Prior to the 2012-13 NBA season, the New York Knicks were told that they were “too old,” that “Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire couldn’t play together,” and they “would never beat the Miami Heat.”
Well, the Knicks (31-16) do have the oldest roster in NBA history, but the team is currently sitting in the second spot in the Eastern Conference a game and a half behind Miami.
On opening night, the Knicks made a statement: New York whacked the Heat by 20 points (104-84) amid the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy, and then did it again the next time the Knicks squared off against the reigning champions (112-92).
Carmelo Anthony dropped 30 points in the first contest between the top two Eastern Conference teams, but sat out the second game after injuring his finger diving into the stands for a loose ball in the previous game. Anthony has been one of the best players in the NBA in 2012-13, giving New York 28.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He has also committed to being more of a team player and buckling down on the defensive end, which is a huge credit to coach Mike Woodson.
In blowing out the Heat without an MVP candidate, the Knicks showed that they are indeed the deepest team in the NBA, and far deeper than just their best player.
J.R. Smith, the leader of that second unit, is having a career season and is arguably the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. Smith is giving New York 16.2 points a night off the bench, even though he is playing starter’s minutes (33.4 minutes per game) and, like Anthony, has committed to maintaining a defensive presence.
Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert have returned from injuries that they sustained in the off-season, and have made an immediate impact. Stoudemire has scored less than 15+ points just once over New York’s last 10 games, and Shumpert has started all 10 games since his return from a torn ACL that he suffered during Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs last year.
Raymond Felton came to New York with pretty lofty expectations. Instead of signing breakout star Jeremy Lin to a ridiculous contract, the Knicks let Lin walk to the Houston Rockets, and instead traded for the more productive Felton. Felton has outplayed Lin this season (14.9 PPG, 6.5 APG for Felton, 12.5 PPG, 6.1 APG for Lin), though both have played well. The only thing is, Felton is doing it for $4,894,193 million less.
Anthony, Smith, Stoudemire, Shumpert and Felton are carrying the Knicks this season, and they just might carry them to a shot at the NBA championship.
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