Whether he likes it or not, whether he is ready or not, KP has become the face of the New York Knicks.
Until now there has always been a feeling that KP was willing to be in the background rather than the spotlight. That might have been out of respect for Melo or it might have been because that was where he felt comfortable. We don’t really know which and that’s why this season could be tough for KP.
There are a few things that could have an impact on KP this season
Other players on the team who may feel that they are more deserving of the limelight.
Noah is on a huge contract and under other circumstances could expect to be more of a focal point. However his first season at the Knicks was not spectacular (yes, I know this is an understatement) meaning he has been written off by a lot of fans, and probably media. He will need to be able to be a team player and support KP as he transitions to his new leadership role as any dissection could spread to other players.
Tim Hardaway Jr has returned to the Knicks as an improved player. He should see more minutes and play a more important role than during his last stint but it will be important that he does understand the dynamics of the new look Knicks.
Some of the other younger players may not respond well to the 22 KP becoming the leader of the team. I think it would be impossible not to respect his skill but will they respect him as franchise player and leader?
Increased media attention
KP has received a lot of media attention since draft night but this was softened by the continued focus on Melo and the Melo trade rumours. Now that the media doesn’t have that to talk about, or at least not in New York, they will turn that focus to KP. Ever injury – probably even a paper cut – will be subject to debate and speculation. We have seen this already with multiple reports on his knee injury at training.
Every play will be considered in minute detail and every look he shoots toward a player on his team or another team will be examined for hidden meaning. And of course his off-court activities and use of social media will be under the microscope too.
Okay I’m exaggerating here, but not much.
All the focus, attention and speculation can be tough to deal with and not all NBA players can cope with it.
His own expectations
KP will absolutely have his own idea of how he wants this season to go. He has already predicted he will be an AllStar this season.
If he feels the season, and the results aren’t what he expected this could get into his head and end up causing more issues.
Everyone deals with this kind of thing differently and as long as he has a good support network around him this should hopefully not be too much of an issue.
I say this as a Knicks fan. Knicks fans can be a tough crowd. They expect wins, the dream of championships and they will be looking with hope and expectation to KP to be the unicorn that brings the championship.
I think this will be the year that the fans really put the pressure on KP and I think he will find crowd reactions at MSG to be different from his previous years.
This is probably the most important. The Knicks organisation have an amazing ability to be Knicksian (in a grasping defeat from the jaws of victory way).
They need to supply KP, ensure he knows he has their faith and make moves to help strengthen the team around him. His doesn’t mean letting him has his own way but it does mean valuing the asset they have.
My biggest worry this season is that the Knicks will not have learned from past lessons and will repeat mistakes such as assuming one man can carry a team to a championship or allowing what should be locker room and back office only conversation become public knowledge. That sort of behaviour damages relationships and leads to players asking to move.
These are not insurmountable issues and some of them are smaller than others but I still have concerns for KP and I hope that support network is strong.