The New York Knicks will be better than the Brooklyn Nets this season. There, I said it. In all likelihood, they will both be upper tier Eastern Conference teams, but New York, and the Atlantic Division, will belong to the Knickerbockers. As SG J.R. Smith said when asked who the best team in NY was, “I don’t know of any other teams in New York. If we’re not talking about the Knicks or the Yankees, I don’t know them.”
Smith is just one of the reasons that the Knicks will have a better year than their cross-town rivals. Along with Smith, Carmelo Anthony and (a healthy) A’mare Stoudemire can score at will, and will have Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd distributing the ball amongst them. Felton and Kidd, who took the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals, can score when they have to, but both love to pick apart the defense and share the basketball. Last season, Kidd averaged 5.5 APG with the Dallas Mavericks, while Felton dished out 6.5 APG for the Portland Trailblazers. Felton is also adept at the pick-and-roll offense; while playing with Stoudemire on the Knicks for the first half of the 2010-2011 season, the UNC native averaged 17.0 PPG and 9.0 APG.
The Nets have not been shy about their movie to Brooklyn, and have made a lot of noise about their revamped rivalry with the Knicks. Joe Johnson said that the Nets are “definitely” the better team in New York. The Brooklyn Borough president, Marty Markowitz, said this in a news conference: “For nearly 40 years the Manhattan Knicks have shown they can’t bring the championship home to New York, so it’s going to take the Brooklyn Nets to get the job done. So move over Manhattan—enough airballs. You had your chance.” Nets owner, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, has even taunted the Knicks front office, referring to the owner, James Dolan, as “that little man.” Brooklyn has also taken shots at Knicks fans, with Prokhorov telling the press that it is a matter of time before he can “convert Knicks fans to Nets fans.”
Carmelo Anthony is returning from London to New York with a gold medal around his neck. Without starting a single game, he was second on Team USA in scoring with 16.3 PPG. ‘Melo shot an astounding 50% on three pointers, netting 23-46 from beyond the arc. Against Nigeria, Anthony had a record breaking performance, scoring 37PTs, and shattering Stephon Marbury’s record for most points by an American in an Olympic game. ‘Melo only played 14 minutes, and sat the entire fourth quarter, but still managed to hit 13-16 shots (10-12 3PT). If Anthony shoots like he did in London, a Knicks loss will be a rarity this season.
However, ‘Melo can’t shoot like that every game, but luckily, the Knicks are deeper than just Anthony. They have an advantage that the Nets don’t have: a bench that’s filled with quality players with specific roles on the team. Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, and Chris Smith (J.R.’s brother) will be the defensive stoppers. Steve Novak, the NBA’s leading 3PT shooter, and J.R. Smith will light it up from downtown and stretch the opposing defense. Everyone knows that Stoudemire can play like an all-star, and the last time he played with Felton, he was a MVP Candidate.
The Nets have back-court superstar power in Deron Williams (also an Olympic gold medalist) and Joe Johnson, but the Knicks have ‘Melo and A’mare (who have been working out together in the off season to work on their chemistry) and a deeper team. The move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, the new uniforms and gear, the new logo, and Jay-Z’s influence have created a buzz about the Nets that is unwarranted. The Knickerbockers are still the real team in New York.
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