In the coming months we are going to be starting up “Turn On The Knicks” – Job descriptions for writing positions will be released in January along with our new openings for Turn On The Jets. However, I will be contributing to both sites as will Chris Celletti, who does terrific Knicks work over at SB Nation as well. Outside of Twitter commentary, we want to keep our pulse on what has been a thrilling Knicks season so far. Hence, every 10 games moving forward we will review what we have seen and what we think moving forward
Current Record: 15-5, first place in Atlantic Division, first place in Eastern Conference
Most Impressive Win: How can you top winning in Miami by 20 points without Carmelo Anthony? The early season comeback win in San Antonio is a close second. Yet what might even be more impressive is how the Knicks have routinely blown out their inferior competition. There have been no let-down losses against the Detroits and Orlandos of the world.
Worst Loss: The only one that stands out as a truly brutal one was the beating they took in Houston by 28 points. Obviously the overtime loss in Brooklyn stung a little bit from a bragging rights perspective but it isn’t like the Knicks laid a complete egg that night.
Best Player: Of course this has to be Carmelo Anthony, who is right in the middle of the MVP discussion. Anthony is averaging 26.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per night while shooting 43% from downtown. More importantly, there is a greater all around urgency to his game, particularly on the defensive end. He seems to be finally fully embracing every aspect of being both a team’s leader…and their leading scorer.
Most Pleasant Surprises: Despite being more of his usual sporadic self as of late. JR Smith remains a viable 6th Man of the Year Candidate with 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists and strong defense off the bench. Smith has been more reliable than expected and of course had that gem of a game winner in Charlotte. Tyson Chandler’s offense (over 70% from the field!) has been a huge boost and the amount of quality minutes from Rasheed Wallace has helped tremendously on the defensive end.
Biggest X-Factor: Stats don’t do justice to what Jason Kidd has brought to the Knicks backcourt. He is a knockdown three point shooter (50% from behind the arc), facilitates the offense and is averaging nearly 2 steals per game. His ability to comfortably play two-guard has been enormous in settling down the Knicks rotation.
Other Mentions: The next time somebody says “Man, the Knicks really miss Jeremy Lin” will be the first. Raymond Felton has been solid from day one as the starting point guard. For the record, he is outperforming Lin in every major statistical category.
Biggest Disappointment: Marcus Camby has been unable to stay healthy and when he has been out there, hasn’t been able to contribute much. Considering that Chris Copeland has handled his limited minutes well and that Amare Stoudemire will be back soon enough, it is hard to see him making much of an impact at all this year.
State of the Union: Could you have really asked for a better start? The Knicks have the best record in the Eastern Conference, remain undefeated at home and have blown out the Miami Heat twice. Despite their often joked about advanced edge, they have shown tremendous depth, energy and outside shooting. Can they sustain this 60 win pace? It is hard to expect that but they are firmly in the mix for a #2 seed in the conference and the current favorite for an Atlantic Division title.
What is even more exciting is that both Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert will be returning in the coming month or so from their respective injuries. Stoudemire has publicly claimed he is comfortable coming off the bench and he better be because that is where the Knicks need him. He should be able to provide a down low scoring punch off the bench and step in to take the offensive lead on nights when the 3 pointers aren’t falling or Anthony isn’t shooting well. Shumpert is a terrific on-ball defender who will likely take Ronnie Brewer’s (who has been very good) place in the starting line-up, allowing him to become part of the second line with Amare.
The Knicks have ten games throughout the rest of December and have a real chance to put some distance between themselves Brooklyn and Boston (currently 3.5 and 4 games back respectively). There are some fun ones coming up starting tonight in BK. After that Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers come to MSG on Thursday, Lin-Sanity is in the building this Monday and then Brooklyn plays their first ever game here next Wednesday.
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