5 Reasons Why the New York Knicks Will Win Eastern Conference
5 Reasons Why the New York Knicks Will Win Eastern Conference
The New York Knicks have blown out the reigning champion Miami Heat twice by score of 20 points. In the head-to-head meetings between the two, the Knicks have won by a combined 40 points. Keep in mind the Heat have the greatest player in the world in LeBron James, and in the second meeting, the Knicks were without their own superstar Carmelo Anthony. By the way, that game that Anthony sat out was in Miami.
New York is a legitimate contender this season, and I believe that they will beat out Miami as the top team in the Eastern Conference at the end of the season. I am not knocking the Heat in any way; I realize the difficulty in chasing a back-to-back championship, as you get the best from every opponent you play. I am simply saying this: the Knicks are for real.
With Anthony playing at an MVP level and J.R. Smith playing like Sixth Man of the Year, the Knicks have the superstars. With Ronnie Brewer and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have the defense. With Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni, the Knicks have the guard player and leadership that they will need to win. And with Steve Novak, Smith, Anthony, and Rasheed Wallace, the Knicks have enough 3PT shooting to shoot the lights out every night.
No other team in the league, Miami included, is as deep as the 2012-13 Knicks. The bench, who refer to themselves as “Mob Deep,” could probably beat over half of the starting rosters in the NBA. I don’t see flaws in this Knicks team, with the exception of health and age (they have the oldest average team age in NBA history), and I see no reason why New York wouldn’t finish atop the Eastern Conference come playoff time.
5. Point Guard Play
The Knicks have a three PG rotation that includes Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni. Felton runs the pick-and-roll with Tyson Chandler exceptionally well, and is averaging 15.9 PPG and 6.9 APG in 2012-13.
Kidd’s role in New York is more a calming presence on the floor, which balances out the sometimes hectic play of J.R. Smith. In addition, he is able to get Carmelo Anthony the ball in positions where he can score, and will knock down jump shots if left open.
Prigioni, a 35 year old rookie from Argentina, is having a bigger impact on the Knicks than originally expected. He is adept at stealing the ball from opposing guards, especially on inbounds plays. Prigioni is putting up 3.4 PPG and 2.7 APG in 13 MPG.
Last season, under Mike D’Antoni, defense was an afterthought in New York. D’Antoni is an elite offensive basketball mind, yet lacks the defensive coaching ability that is needed to win a championship in the NBA.
Mike Woodson, who stepped in for D’Antoni last season, is looking like a long term solution the Knicks long-time defensive woes. This season, the Knicks are a top ten defensive team.
Woodson has been able to get Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, who were not known for grit or hustle earlier in their careers, to commit to being defensive stoppers, and that mentality has spread throughout the team.
When Iman Shumpert, arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, returns from injury in January, he will add to an already stingy defensive unit.
3. 3PT Shooting
The offense of the New York Knicks relies on pick-and-rolls, ball movement, and isolations, but what happens when there is a double team or teams clog up the paint?
This is where the 3PT shooting of the Knicks comes in. With Carmelo Anthony working in isolations and Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler working the pick-and-roll, Coach Mike Woodson spreads sharpshooters around the perimeter at all times. Steve Novak, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, and Rasheed Wallace are all knocking down big shot after big shot as the Knicks have surged to an early season lead in the Eastern Conference.
I know that many basketball minds say that if “you live by the three, you die by the three.” However, with the Knicks, I don’t see this as being completely true. The Knicks have so many quality shooters that it is nearly unfathomable for all of them to be off on a given night. In other words, someone, anyone really, will get hot at some point during the game. And, with Anthony not hogging so many possessions and being willing to dish it out to the perimeter when he is doubled, the three’s will be raining down from New York all season long.
2. A'mare Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, and "Mob Deep"
When A’mare Stoudemire comes back around Christmas, he will most likely come off the bench. Although he may not like the idea, being that he is the second highest paid player in New York, it is best for the team, and will give the Knicks the best bench in the NBA. Along with Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert is returning from a knee injury, and will make his comeback sometime in January.
Steve Novak, J.R. Smith, and Rasheed Wallace are giving the Knicks tremendous minutes off the bench, and with Stoudemire and Shumpert coming back, that bench will be looking like what would be a starting roster for many other teams in the NBA.
1. Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith
Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in the NBA, and this season, is turning it up a notch. He is a top five scorer, which is what he is renowned for- putting the ball in the basket. However, realizing that this season is probably his best shot yet to reach a coveted NBA Championship, Anthony is turning up his defensive intensity and all around effort on the court. He is a better passer than he gets credit for, and has become a leader for a Knicks team that I believe will beat out the Miami Heat as the top team in the Eastern Conference.
No true superhero is complete without a sidekick, and Anthony’s right-hand-man is SG J.R. Smith. The two grew very close during their days as teammates on the Denver Nuggets, so much so that Anthony is the godfather of one of Smith’s daughters. Smith is an early season candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, and provides offense similar to Anthony’s, just not as efficient. However, with Anthony on the bench, especially if he is in foul trouble, Smith is the go-to-guy.
The offensive duo is showing the league that to win, you have to give a concerted efforts on both ends of the floor. If Anthony and Smith can do that for an entire season, the Knicks will be the best team in the Eastern Conference come playoff time.
Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for articles, news, and all things NBA.