After reaching the postseason for the second consecutive year in over a decade the New York Knicks enter the 2012-13 NBA season looking to build on that momentum and possibly go further this time around than their past two playoff experiences. Last year the Knicks finished the season with a 36-30 record which was good enough to finish second in the Atlantic Division and seventh overall in the Eastern Conference. New York fell victim in the playoffs to the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat in the first round, four games to one. That one playoff game victory was also their first in over a decade; now let’s focus on the Knicks upcoming year.
Carmelo Anthony (22.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game last season) is without question the headliner of this unit and the Knicks can only go as far as he takes them. Anthony has received his fair share of criticism as being the leader of winning ball clubs largely due to the fact that during his nine-year career in the NBA his teams have reached the postseason eight times but have only once made it out of the first round. In order for Melo to shake that reputation he will have to get the Knicks out of the first round at least and possibly even further than that.
The center of the Knicks problem swirl around the fact that their two biggest stars and best players Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire (17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and one block per game last season) don’t seem to play well together. Both Anthony and Stoudemire seem to thrive with the other sitting on the bench in large due to the fact that they do their best work in the same general area on the court. If the two of them don’t figure out how to work with one another than the Knicks could be looking at another first round playoff exit or possibly not even reaching the postseason at all.
The 2011-12 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler (11.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game last season), J.R. Smith (12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game last season) and newly acquired Raymond Felton (11.4 points, 6.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game last season with the Portland Trailblazers) round out New York’s starting five and will need to ease the struggles that their two biggest guns have playing together. Team chemistry will be a huge x-factor with the Knicks on determining how successful of a season it will be for them, especially within their starting unit.
The Knicks bench seems much improved from season ago, they have some key pieces returning from last year including second-year sensation Iman Shumpert (9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game and deadly long range shooter Steve Novak (8.8 points and a league leading 47.2% shooting from behind the arc last season) but will also need to rely on the new acquisitions they have made as well. Some of those acquisitions include future hall-of-famer Jason Kidd (6.2 points, 5.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals last season with the Dallas Mavericks), Marcus Camby (4.9 points, nine rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game last while splitting time with the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers) and Kurt Thomas (three points and 3.5 rebounds last year with the Trailblazers).
With so much uncertainty surrounding the starting lineup the Knicks are going to rely heavily on chemistry amongst the second unit to truly balance this team as a whole. There will even be times where either Stoudemire or Anthony will occupy the court with the second unit in order to allow both superstars to do their thing free without the other inferring with their sweet spots on the floor. It will all be interesting to watch unfold especially under the bright lights and constant media influence in the Big Apple, stay tuned everyone.
Head Coach/Front Office:
Following a tumultuous season last year regarding the head coaching position with the Knicks the entire Big Apple is hoping that this season goes a lot smoother win Mike Woodson being named the new full time head coach. Last season Woodson took over for Mike D’Antoni who was fired, oh I’m sorry I meant resigned with 24 games remaining in the season. In the those 24 games under Woodson New York went 18-6 which gave them the push they need to reach the postseason. If Woodson can create that same magic again this season for the Knicks then there is a strong possibly they will have home court advantage in the first round of the postseason which could mean they could advance to the next.
The front office will either be questioned heavily or praised depending on how good the team does and how well the departed sensation Jeremy Lin does this season. In his first year of full-time GM duties Glen Grunwald decided to let Lin walk and not match the four-year/$28.8 million offer sheet that the Rockets signed Lin to. Instead Grunwald decide to make a few trades and bring back three former Knicks (Felton, Camby and Thomas) along with signing free agents Kidd and Ronnie Brewer. If they pan out and the Knicks do well then Grunwald will be considered a genius but if they don’t and Lin has an incredible season in Houston then Grunwald will be second guessed and bashed by everyone in New York, fans and the media alike. That’s got to be a tough position to be in but hey ask Brian Cashman, that’s the life of running a team in New York City.