Who Will Step Up for New York Knicks After All-Star Break?
The Knicks are sitting in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 32-18 record, but after starting 18-6, New York went 14-12 over its final 26 games. Had it not been for such a hot start to the season, the Knicks could be much lower than the No. 2 seed.
Anthony has done more than his part, but several of his teammates are contributing a lot less than they should be.
Steve Novak, last season’s 3PT shooting leader, has struggled in the first half of the season. His numbers are down across the board, and the most glaring are his 3PT percentages: 44 percent (down 3 percent) from downtown, 42 percent from the field (down 5 percent), and even shot attempts (down 1 shot per game from the field/3PTA).
J.R. Smith initially was making a case for Sixth Man of the Year in the early part of the year, but his production has tailed off a bit heading into the All-Star break. Smith is putting up 16.2 points, dishing out 2.8 assists, and grabbing five rebounds per night off the bench (although he plays starter’s minutes). New York will much more want Smith to show up in the second half of the season, because when Anthony is out of the game, Smith is the go-to guy offensively.
Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t really had a chance to acclimate himself to the team, returning from injury in time to play just 20 games. After struggling at first, Stoudemire really picked up his offensive production off the bench for New York. Over the last 10 games, Stoudemire was putting up nearly 16 PPG (13.6 PPG this season). Over the break, Stoudemire should be able to catch up on plays, defensive assignments and everything else that he has not been able to since returning.
Anthony has been running the show for the Knicks, but the team cannot expect him to just ride him throughout the second half of 2012-13 and the playoffs. Novak, Smith and Stoudemire really need to elevate their production in New York for the team to have a chance to make a run at the No. 1 seed and actually get past the first round of the playoffs.