Friday’s game against the Miami Heat is the start of the most important season this century for the New York Knicks. Which really isn’t saying much, considering the Knicks had some miserable years in the last decade. We’ve heard all offseason long how either the Knicks are too old and possibly overrated. I think I speak for all of Knicks nation when I say I’m sick of hearing how Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can’t play together. From Charles Barkley to Marv Albert, the Knicks have had to hear it all offseason. With some key offseason acquisitions, the Knicks appear to be ready to challenge the perennial Eastern powers. So with that, here is the top 5 reasons the Knicks will succeed this year:
5.) Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire will finally figure it out
Carmelo and Stoudemire have to become a great tandem if the Knicks want to make a deep run in the playoffs
Surprise! Yet another injury to Amar’e Stoudemire has occurred. This will reportedly keep him out the first two months of the season, which will derail the chemistry the Knicks are trying to create. However, what many critics forget is the lack of games ‘Melo and STAT have actually played together. The record in the regular season since the duo have been paired over the last 20 months stands at 30-33. I’m not a math major, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t equal one full season. In fact, ‘Melo and STAT haven’t even had a full training camp together. How can two alpha dogs create chemistry together when they’ve haven’t even been on the court the better part of the past two seasons? Even Dwyane Wade and LeBron James didn’t have this tall of order when they first were paired.
Now all the statistical analytical geeks will come at me with how the Knicks were amongst the bottom end of the league in scoring efficiency when both players were on the court at the same time. They will also say how statistically Anthony THRIVED at the power forward position. To that I say you’re absolutely right. In fact, I’m a HUGE advocate of playing Carmelo at the four-spot. He torched opponents and led the Knicks on a great run when playing that position. My argument is this: even if you bring Stoudemire off the bench, they’re still going to end up playing together the majority of the game. So the solution is this; play Stoudemire at the center position more often. At this stage of his career he’s a huge improvement offensively to Marcus Camby. The Miami Heat played this way and it won them a championship. Is Chris Bosh, who has been called soft more times than tissue paper, really that much of a greater defender than Amar’e Stoudemire? With both players new-found perspective on defense there is no reason this lineup shouldn’t be used more often. Especially when Tyson Chandler heads to the bench with seven minutes left in the first quarter with two quick fouls.
4.) The Knicks can DEFEND
Tyson Chandler anchors the Knicks’ defense
This hasn’t exactly been a staple in the Knicks repertoire this century, nor did it help when former coach Mike D’Antoni took over. However, last season the Knicks brought in former Atlanta Hawks head coach, Mike Woodson to assist the defense. And he did yeoman’s type job fixing the Knicks into a top defensive team. Fast forward to this season and Woodson not only took over the Knicks from D’Antoni, he also helped lead them to the playoffs with this newly found emphasis on playing defense.
With Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony seemingly focused on defense, this could make the Knicks even tougher on that end. There is no reason why both can’t become solid defenders with their talent and athleticism. With Tyson Chandler anchoring the center position, he brings an element the Knicks haven’t had in quite some time. This was evident last season when he won Defensive Player of the Year, as he changed the whole Knicks culture.
Losing Iman Shumpert for what looks to be at least the first half of the 2012/2013 season will hurt, but they brought in defensive specialist Ronnie Brewer. Add to boot they no longer have a bunch of bums at point guard that couldn’t guard an out-of-shape 36-year-old heavy-set YMCA men’s l league point guard and this should significantly help their perimeter defense.
3.) Raymond Felton/Jason Kidd/Pablo Prigioni WILL be an upgrade at point guard
Can the Knicks’ new point guards produce?
Spare me with the Jeremy Lin talk. Was I swept away with “Linsanity” last season? Of course. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. That still doesn’t mean he was the right player moving into the future. I do believe they should have signed him with the purpose of trading him, though. That is a discussion for a different day. Time to move on, and Ray Felton is who we have now. Felton has taken a ton of criticism for coming into last season out of shape. You know, because that was the first time in a lockout shortened season that has ever happened. Seriously, the man was pissed off he was traded from the Knicks, then it only got worse when he was shipped off once again to Portland. I don’t care about his past. He’s in shape now and I have seen him thrive in New York, which can’t be taken lightly. We’ve seen players crumble under the pressure and scrutiny New York has attached with it.
Felton brings a different element than the bag of bums Mike Bibby, Baron Davis and Toney Douglas brought to New York. In fact I’ll even throw Jeremy Lin in there, because for as exciting as he was during that brief stretch on the offensive end, he had his limitations on the defensive end. Felton, Kidd and Prigioni can actually move their feet laterally. Kidd is a savvy defender that can guard two-guards and the duo of Felton and Prigioni can play defense. We should see a huge improvement from that standpoint.
Offensively, Pablo WILL become a fan favorite amongst the Knicks’ faithful. He’s excited us so far in preseason and he has a wealth of experience from playing overseas for years. Plus I couldn’t get enough of him during his postgame interview after dishing out 11 assists against the Nets in a preseason game. Prigioni will get the ball into the hands of Carmelo and Stoudemire. He will also get everyone else involved, as he has shown a propensity for finding the open man for easy hoops.
As far as Jason Kidd goes, we know what we’re going to get out of him. He’s a spot up shooter at this point in his career and plays savvy defense. He’s not the elite defender he once was, but he can certainly help out at that end. Also a very smart offensive player and should add another element on that end. I feel like we all know what we’re going to get out of Kidd: 15-20 minutes, solid defense, a spot-up three a steal or two and of course a few assists.
2.) The Knicks finally have some Stability
The Knicks’ return their big three this season. Keeping their core in tact, despite Amar’e Stoudemire potentially missing the first two months of the season
During the past decade it seemed like every season the Knicks would have a turnover of their roster (seriously no pun intended). This year they added some high-profile names to come off the bench. See, many analysts that get paid to give their professional opinion often times forget this as they are bashing the Knicks for being old. Then, conviently, forget that the Celtics start an aging Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and bring 35-year-old Jason Terry off the bench. Whatever the case, the Knicks return their nucleus of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Steve Novak and most importantly, head coach Mike Woodson.
Veterans like Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas don’t need a ton of time to get acclimated with the players and the Knicks system. They have all been around the block. Ronnie Brewer and Pablo Prigioni also are good glue guys that know how to play the game. The Knicks know what their identity is, and that’s defense first. The Knicks have plenty of leadership and guys that know what it takes to win.
This is the first time in three seasons the Knicks haven’t had a major change with the team. You can’t underestimate stability.
1.) Carmelo Anthony is poised to have a BIG year
‘Melo MUST have the best year of his career if the Knicks are going to make noise in the East
There has never been more pressure on the former Syracuse stand-out than this upcoming season with the New York Knicks. He is the clear alpha dog on a team poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. ‘Melo is at his absolute apex of his prime and the best shape of his life. He had the pleasure of playing with the NBA’s best players in Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant in the Olympics which should only push his drive to win.
He will be the clear number one target on the offensive end. ‘Melo is an excellent passer and all indications seem to be leaning Anthony becoming a less selfish player. Look for Anthony to be less of the ball stopper that we have seen in the past and more of a catalyst.
Remember this: last time Carmelo Anthony came off an Olympic championship run in 2008 he was an absolute beast the following year. This is his time to cement his legacy with the New York Knicks. Watch out league!
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