Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 11/18/12

With a ridiculously improbable start to the season, the New York Knicks were the only undefeated team left in the NBA, before tip off against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 16.  To say the least, the start that the Knicks have had is not only the best opening for the team since the 1993-1994 season in which the Partrick Ewing-led Knicks made a finals run, but a seemingly amazing start for a team that many thought was too old to succeed. The Knicks average age is ­­­­­­32 years and 240 days old, in fact, the Knicks are the oldest team in NBA history.  The Knicks had a busy offseason, re-signing fan favorites J.R. Smith to a two-year, $5.7 million contract and Steve Novak to a four- year deal at $15 million.  They were thought to be bringing global superstar Jeremy Lin back to the team, until the Houston Rockets included a “poison pill” third contract year, overpaying incredibly for the unproven point guard, at $15 million in his third year with the team.  They also let two-guard Landry Fields go to the Raptors for a ridiculous overpayment. Gone was the youth of the Knicks, gone was Linsanity, and more importantly, gone was part of the team that led the Knicks to their first playoff win in fourteen tries (they had previously lost 13 in a row).  But owner James Dolan and General Manager Glen Grunwalt weren’t going to let Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and supporting cast get away from the winning ways.  The Knicks brought in veterans Jason Kidd on a three-year deal and followed that with another Point Guard, 28-year-old Raymond Felton out of Portland.  The onslaught of free-agents followed, with Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, Ronnie Brewer, Pablo Prigioni, Kurt Thomas, and of course, new fan-favorite Rasheed Wallace. The Knicks roster was complete, but clearly nobody ever envisioned what would happen next.  The Knicks struggled in the preseason, failing to distribute the ball and score points.  Their defense was mediocre, and the Knicks finished the preseason 3-3.  We don’t know exactly what has changed, but perhaps the Knicks are motivated to bring light to a region ravished by Superstorm, Hurricane Sandy.  Perhaps the Knicks’ shots are luckily falling in.  Or, perhaps Mike Woodson is on to something. Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE In the opening game of the year, Woodson and Anthony led the Knicks to a 104-84 win over the defending champion – and heavily favored to repeat – Miami Heat.  Playing stellar defense, the Knicks held the Heat to 47 percent shooting and showed off the best defense that Knick fans have seen since that NBA finals run of almost twenty years ago. The Knicks followed the improbable win with two more massacres, beating Philadelphia twice in a home and home onwards to a 3-0 start.  The team hit their first speed bump (if you could even call it that) in their fourth game, against the Dallas Mavericks.  Although they still won, the team proved that even when the three-pointers don’t fall, the team could still be successful.  This team, either way, is winning by an average of 13.67 points per game, clearly the highest in the league. via leanblitz.net The Knicks are making a strong case that ‘defense wins championships.’  A phrase often associated with football, the Knicks are proving to opponents that they’re going to have to score, and have to score a lot, in order to topple the orange and blue team in the East.  Through their first six games, the Knicks are allowing a stingy 89.8 points per game, good enough for second best in the league.  Sure, the Knicks are a superstar team, and with superstars come points, and lots of them.  Carmelo Anthony leads the team in scoring through six games, with 23.8 points per game.  But, the Knicks are clearly focused on their defensive game; something that former Knicks head coach and current Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni was often criticized for his lack of.  Led by Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, the Knicks are stronger than ever on the defensive end.  In fact, Woodson can often be seen screaming at players from the bench if they are not playing tight defense, something Carmelo Anthony is slowly becoming used to – and it seems as if Melo is learning, he is leading the Knicks in rebounds per game, bringing in 8.2 per contest, and blocks with 0.80 per game.  Right now, the Knicks Defensive Rating (DRtg) is 98.5, worthy of second best in the league.  DRtg is found by averaging the number of points a team gives up per 100 possessions.  Conversely, the Knicks Offensive Rating (ORtg) is 113.5, the best in the league.  This is clearly a winning formula being led by specific players. This team lives and dies by the Kidd.  Jason Kidd has been all over the court on both the offensive and defensive ends.  Kidd is currently second on the NBA Career Steals list, with a total of 2,572, and he is reminding Knicks fans why they despised him so much when he made the Finals runs with the Nets at the beginning of the 2000s.  Kidd is stifling on the defensive end, and currently leads the team with 2.20 steals per game, playing at the top of the key.  But, Kidd has become a go-to-guy in clutch moments.  Kidd practically willed the Knicks back into the game against the Spurs, hitting three three-pointers with under seven minutes to play and down twelve against the Spurs, one of the top teams in the League. The Knicks success can’t be mentioned without J.R. Smith’s freakish play coming to mind, either.  Smith is just ridiculous with the ball and from three (he’s shooting .740 from downtown).  And although sometimes watching him play makes you question his shot selection and rationale, the stats back up his play.  Smith is currently averaging 18 points off of the bench, anchoring the second unit that often has trouble trying to score. This Knicks team is defying most fans’ biggest dreams right now, and they’re doing it through defense, and this without their pesky, sophomore two-guard Iman Shumpert who is recovering from knee-surgery.  For once, the Knicks do not have to worry about depth.  Actually, they have too many players right now.  Without Stoudimire back from surgery, the rotation is a struggle, and with the two former starters returning (Stoudemire sometime around the new year and Shumert a little earlier), Mike Woodson is going to have to practically become a wizard, working the rotation into a winning formula.  But then again, isn’t Mike Woodson already a wizard? Convincing this veteran-ridden team to play stellar defense en route to an undefeated start that has people talking championship just two weeks into the season?  We’re just going to have to see how far defense can take the Knicks into the season before fatigue sets in.   But, nevertheless, the Knicks are back, like Amar’e said with his arrival, and just in the Knick of time too, with fans frustration finally being met by stellar play.

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