How Much Can Copeland Contribute?

Brian DiMenna

Over at the New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog,┬áMike Kurylo notes that on such a veteran-heavy team like the Knicks, there are few players that can realistically be expected to improve. For the bulk of the roster, the challenge is maintaining their current level of performance or massaging the potential drop-off. One of the few guys they have who could potentially see some development happens to be 28-year-old rookie Chris Copeland, a 6’9″ forward who has shown a pretty natural ability to score, particularly during the preseason and in his limited minutes over the first 16 games.

In Sunday’s win over Phoenix, Copeland put together an impressive second quarter, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, and even adding a couple assists, something that hasn’t been a staple of his game. But the question is whether Copeland showed enough to become a serious contributor?

Naturally, it doesn’t seem like Mike Woodson was overly convinced, given that Copeland didn’t play after halftime. That’s the type of ringing endorsement you get when an interviewer tells you they “really enjoyed talking with you,” and then you never hear from them again.

But there’s no doubt the Knicks could use a little scoring punch on the second unit, something that might make them a little less reliant on the somewhat enigmatic Rasheed Wallace, and perhaps Copeland could find himself filling that role, at least until Amar’e Stoudemire is set to return sometime in the next few weeks … hopefully.

Of course, while that all sounds well and good, it’s equally likely that Sunday’s game proves to be the highlight of Copeland’s Knicks career, a flickering moment where he briefly held our attention, only to one day be recalled over beers as, “Oh right, the guy with that hair. I liked him.”

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