1. A LEGIT SCORING STARTING CENTER
First of all, before you bash Jeffries -- something that nearly every Knicks fan has done since the season ended -- consider this: The numbers prove he was actually effective on the floor, especially while playing alongside Stoudemire, albeit in only about 250 minutes of action. On an individual basis, Jeffries was plus-87 points (in comparison, Ronny Turiaf was minus-11 and Williams was minus-29), and ranking the Knicks' 4-5 combos, Jeffries-Stoudemire was the best at plus-62. In comparison to Turiaf, who started most of the time at center, when Jeffries was on the court, the team played more efficiently and Stoudemire shot at a higher percentage.
Take a look:
Player Team Offensive Rating Team Defensive Rating Net +/- Stoudemire FG%
Jeffries 122.2 108.2 14.0 50 %
Turiaf 108.4 107.1 1.3 44 %
But even with Jeffries' ability to space the floor, defend and take charges, the Knicks were missing something big: interior scoring. The Knicks ranked 18th in points in the paint and 20th in second-chance points this past season. This is not to say they need Howard to fix their problems, but they need at least a B-tier center who not only has some Jeffries in him but also can post up and go to work as well as rebound. The Knicks ranked 20th-worst in the league, averaging 40.5 boards.
Realistic available free-agent centers: Kwame Brown (unrestricted), Samuel Dalembert (unrestricted), Reggie Evans (unrestricted), Chuck Hayes (unrestricted), Ryan Hollins (unrestricted with a player option) and Chris Wilcox (unrestricted).
Scout's take: "They definitely could use a big, physical guy. Centers are not easy to get, though, so I'm not going to dwell on that. Look at Miami with Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire.
Unless there's cap space or something otherwise, that's not an easy thing to go get. Point guards and centers are the two toughest things to get, and that's why if you can get good ones, it's so much more valuable than a good 2 or a good 3. It's easier to put a serviceable 3 or 4 with Chris Paul or with Dwight Howard than it is to put a serviceable 5 or 1 with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Miami, though, has such a talented 2 and 3 that they make up for a lot of that obviously."