Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is five weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next five weeks. This week is the Atlantic Division. Today is the New York Knicks.
2011-12 Record: 36-30, lost first round
Key Losses: Jeremy Lin (signed by Houston), Landry Fields (signed by Toronto), Toney Douglas (traded to Houston)
Key Acquisitions: Jason Kidd (signed from Dallas0, Marcus Camby (traded from Houston), Raymond Felton (signed from Portland)
Depth ChartPG SG SF PF C Jason Kidd Iman Shumpert Carmelo Anthony Amar'e Stoudemire Tyson Chandler Raymond Felton J.R. Smith Ronnie Brewer Steve Novak Marcus Camby Pablo Prigioni James White Chris Copeland John Shurna Kurt Thomas
The Knicks are indeed relevant again. they are competing for a Playoff spot and could be one of the top teams in the East. Considering the hole New York was in for much of the past decade as the franchise swung and missed on one free agent after the other is completely gone. What the Knicks have in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire is a legitimate duo that will keep the team relevant and in the Playoffs.
And nothing is more important in The Big Apple than getting notice. The Knicks could not just get to the Playoffs, they have to do it with pizzaz and with the kind of star power that gets the back pages talking.
if that is the goal, Anthony and Stoudemire certainly can do that.
It is also clear, however, that the Knicks want more. That led to the signing of defensive ace Tyson Chandler last year and that led to the Knicks reloading at point guard with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd this offseason. New York is trying to be more than just a headline.
The talent is undoubtedly there for the Knicks to be a top team in the Eastern Conference. On paper, this is a team that should compete for the Atlantic Division title. With a year and a half under their belts, Anthony and Stoudemire should have an understanding of how to play off each other. In either case, a strong point guard in Jason Kidd should be able to manage keeping both involved.
This is a team that Mike Woodson can shape defensively because of Chandler and Marcus Camby's presence defensively. It is a team that can put up points. It is a team with a solid bench presence in Felton, J.R. Smith and Camby.
This is, surprisingly, a very good team all of a sudden.
It has been a year and a half and the Knicks still have not quite figured out how to get Anthony and Stoudemire to work well together. Both players need the ball a lot to score. They are volume scorers.
Stoudemire found his most success when playing with a distributing point guard like Steve Nash. Kidd is not Nash, but Kidd is a distributor and his presence may help the Knicks balance things and make sure both Anthony and Stoudemire get their shots.
The problem still remains, however. Anthony works best in isolation and so does Stoudemire.
Last season, Anthony took 19.7 field goal attempts per game, shooting 43.0 percent from the floor. There is hope, however, Anthony's assist rate jumped to a career high 21.0 percent last year. Perhaps Anthony is learning how to become a playmaker and set up his teammates as much as himself. This development could transform the Knicks if it is the new Carmelo Anthony -- both devastating scorer and playmaker.
More likely, considering how long Anthony has been in the league, his numbers will regress to the mean -- 19.2 field goal attempts per game, 45.6 percent shooting and 16.0 assist rate.
This is still the Knicks. And hilarity always seems to follow.
This summer several reports came out that James Dolan would invite Isiah Thomas back into the franchise, which received many groans from Knicks observers. It was Thomas' planning that put the Knicks in a deep hole and kept them out of the Playoffs for nearly a decade. He turned New York into the laughing stock of the league.
The Knicks are far from that now and it is doubtful that Thomas would have such an important role if he ever came back. Then again, there were several rumors that the Knicks mortgaged their future to bring Anthony in on Thomas' advice. new York turned a nice young team into one that seemed mismatched.
As noted throughout this post, New York still feels like it has a mismatched roster although the team is building in a positive direction.
The problem is that New York is a win-now city. The Knicks have to be a little worried about competing for eyeballs with their flashy new neighbors in Brooklyn.
New York has to be feeling the pressure to win and win big. Getting to the Playoffs, let alone winning a Playoff game, are no long enough. This is a roster with two sure-fire All Stars, perhaps two starting All Stars, and with that much talent comes the expectation to go deep in the Playoffs. That is a lot of pressure to put on someone like Anthony. And a lot of pressure on Mike Woodson and the Knicks this year.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Knicks? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by hashtagging #KnicksDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Knicks throughout the day.
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