Thursday, October 25, 2012

Season Preview: New York Knicks

The Knicks are an enigma wrapped in a mystery. The Knicks found Jeremy Lin, the man who saved the Knicks season the first time (Carmelo held it down in the final month, but we dislike him), and promptly dropped him. Now, the Knicks seem to be going in this direction where they acquire every veteran in the league, with the hope to acquire a championship. Even with an tumultuous offseason, the Knicks fans seem lost with this team, and the pundits feel this team couldn't be much better.

With all of that, the Knicks still have some positives. Head coach Mike Woodson is going to demand a defensive intensity, and the Knicks seem to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. The offseason acquisitions are all mysteries, but the summer league/preseason games have alluded to the fact the Knicks are more deeper than last season. After playing guys like Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, and Josh Harrellson, the Knicks should be more stable with their starters on the bench.

Before seeing season projections, why not listen to them? Me and Taylor Armosino (Follow on twitter at @Tarmosino) discussed the Knicks season, and you can listen here.

PG: Raymond Felton

The man who’s supposed to make Knick fans forget about Lin. Last season, Felton had a terrible contract season with Portland (11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 40% shooting), the Knicks saw it as a perfect chance to bring him in and allow to be mediocre for the Knicks. The pluses don't outweigh the minuses, but what New York will do for him is allow Felton to run pick and rolls, and with Amar'e there, Felton will look to grasp the 2009 magic. At best, Felton will produce Lin's production in his 29 game run (11-6-43%), and for his pricetag, we should be getting much more.

SG: Ronnie Brewer

Let’s go from one of the worst offseason additions, to the best offseason acquisitions. Ronnie Brewer is something the Knicks could use more of: A role player who can defend multiple positions and take up valuable minutes. While he won't produce much on the offensive end, Brewer is extremely efficient when he gets offensive chances, sans last season. If Brewer can give New York a couple of baskets a night, just give New York 8-9 points per game, the Knicks will have a steal. His defensive and ability to play both shooting guard and small forward will be huge this season.

SF: Carmelo Anthony

The most overrated or underrated player in the league based on where you rank him. The first half of the season was terrible for Anthony as he was directed to run the team as a point forward and struggled. During the second half of season, Anthony had a revelation. Dominating when playing power forward position, and help leading the Knicks to the playoffs. He's one of the best driving players in the league, but settles for a ton of threes. In the pick and roll, Anthony is a terror, and his defensive numbers in the posts are great, even though the sample size is small. All this says put Carmelo in packages at the power forward spot, but with our next player, it's tough for him to do that.

PF: Amar'e Stoudemire

His toughest season to date, Stoudemire struggled through the shortened season with injuries, family troubles, and on court adjustments. After making the 2nd team All-NBA the year prior, Stoudemire saw his numbers dip to 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. With Anthony on the court, Stoudemire has struggled to adjust offensively, and both provide liabilities on the defensive end. At this point, the Knicks should consider moving Stoudemire to the bench. Not only is Amar'e a terrible fit next to Anthony, but he's a bad fit next to Chandler as well. Amar'e can still get 30 minutes a night, but he'll be a much better fit off the bench in a pick and roll offense with some shooter/defender/roamers around him. Would new backup center Marcus Camby be a better fit? Sure, but it's all about Stoudemire's hesitation of coming off the bench.

C: Tyson Chandler

The most important player to the New York Knicks roster: Tyson Chandler. Not only did Chandler win the defensive player of the year award, but Chandler also helped New York form into a top 10 defense. Outside of seven feet, he struggles on the offensive end, but anything remotely close to the basket is an automatic two points. He’ll rebound, he’ll defend, and he’ll be the defensive leader on the floor. Chandler is a true leader, and the heart and soul of the Knicks. Even with Chandler, there's some problems. He was completely healthy last season (he hurt his wrist and played through it), so I wonder if Chandler regresses from playing 62 games (close to 100%) last year, to missing say 15 games this season.

Overview: The Knicks will have a solid defense, and the one question lingering for me is the shooting. If you listed the Knicks top five shooters on the roster, they would be: Carmelo Anthony, Steve Novak,  J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland, and Amar'e Stoudemire. The Knicks will go through stretches where they'll look terrible on the offensive end, and as someone who watched the Knicks during the MDA era, I never though I'd see the day New York would struggle on offense. The one bright side is the new talent at point guard. Jason Kidd will do Jason Kidd things, and Argentian import Pablo Prigioni will provide some pick and roll play, as well as some spot-up shooting. While the Knicks let Lin go and didn't improve the point guard spot with one player, they upgraded the entire position from starter to third string.

Prediction: 46-36, 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference.


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