Can the New York Knicks Still Be Considered a Championship Contender?

By A.J. Speier
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks should feel very confident about their chances of making the playoffs, but after dropping a pair of games to the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, they still have work to do in order to be a championship contender.

With a 23-13 record, second-best in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks have a 8.5-game lead over the ninth place Philadelphia 76ers. The rest of the teams, the Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards, don’t pose as much of a threat due to a lack of superstar players.

The 76ers are still waiting for Andrew Bynum to make his season-debut and have struggled to replace Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Elton Brand.

Barring serious injuries, the eight teams that should make the playoffs are the Miami Heat, Knicks, Pacers, Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

Against the Eastern Conference playoff candidate teams, the Knicks have a 6-6 record. Their record against the Heat is 2-0, Pacers 1-1, Bulls 0-3, Nets 2-1, Celtics 0-1 and the Bucks 1-0.

Since the Raymond Felton injury, the Knicks have a 3-5 record. Carmelo Anthony has been in and out of the lineup, Amar’e Stoudemire is working his way back from surgery, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby have dealt with injuries and Jason Kidd has struggled with a position change from shooting guard to point guard.

Iman Shumpert is set to return soon, which will allow the Knicks to keep James White on the bench, but the lack of continuity on this team is something to be concerned with.

Last season, Anthony and Stoudemire failed to co-exist and once again they’re missing out on time to work on chemistry with the starting point guard. Once Felton comes back, Kidd will likely move back to shooting guard.

Follow A.J. Speier on Twitter @Ajbisons for articles, news, and all things NBA

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