Top 5 Reasons The New York Knicks Can Win The NBA Championship
The New York Knicks
The New York Knicks come barreling into the playoffs as arguably the NBA’s hottest team, but many are skeptical if they can actually win it all or even challenge the Miami Heat. This has been a season of up and downs for the Knicks between injuries to everyone from Carmelo Anthony to Raymond Felton and everyone in between. In this home stretch however, the Knicks have gone 16-2 and have transformed back into the team that was dominating the league the first couple weeks of the season.
Their defense has improved as has their three-point shooting, which everyone all year said would dissipate, yet it has not. Anthony is playing at the highest level of anyone in the league right now, and his teammates are happy to help feed the beast. Although Jason Kidd is still struggling with his shot, his intangibles on defense and passing the ball make him a very dangerous component for teams to deal with in the playoffs along with the fact that he is indeed an NBA champion. Felton has recaptured the initial energetic burst that he displayed early in the season when he was playing at an all-star level before he got hurt. Iman Shumpert also has continued his growth as a player and now boasts a very efficient outside shot to go along with his suffocating defense.
Everyone also tends to forget the size that the Knicks have that can intimidate opponents from coming in the paint. Since returning to the league, Kenyon Martin has been everything the Knicks could’ve wanted and then some, and alongside him will be the reigning defensive player of the year, Tyson Chandler. Here are the reasons the Knicks can win it all.
5. The Point Guards
The Knicks have something that not many other teams have. They have three legitimate point guards. The trio of Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton at times have proven to be the fire starters for this high powered Knicks offense. Prigioni is 16-2 as a starting point guard this year, and as long he can be healthy for the playoffs, he gives the Knicks a pick and roll master with the ability to be a pesky defender and knock down the three.
With Felton you get the bulldog. He isn’t that physically imposing, but he will fight you tooth and nail for every loose ball and rebound. Felton has also shown the ability to get to the rim at will this season and is pretty adept at finishing over taller players along with knowing when to pass it up for an easy alley oop.
Kidd brings the veteran presence that every team needs and is capable of making the big play offensively and defensively despite his diminished speed. These three will be the catalysts to the Knicks' offense come playoff time.
4. The Emergence Of Chris Copeland
Chris Copeland has come out of nowhere. The now 29 year-old rookie was relegated to garbage time for much of the season, but now with the absence of Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks have turned to him for scoring and he has delivered big time. In the last ten games, Copeland has averaged 15 points per game on 49% shooting and 45% shooting from three point range. He has displayed the ability to get his shot off against any defender and also shows off an impressive inside game with a variety of hook shots and up and under moves that often leave the defender in his wake.
The Knicks had been searching for that third scorer behind Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith the whole season, and now on the brink of the playoffs, they have found one.
3. The Presence Of Tyson Chandler
During the Knicks' recent win streak, Tyson Chandler was absent for a large part of it and this led to people thinking maybe Kenyon Martin was more effective as a starter than Tyson was. This is simply not true as Chandler has shown throughout his two years as a Knick that he can be an absolute game changer.
Currently the Knicks' only seven footer, Chandler is an essential cog to both this team’s offense as well as its defense. Raymond Felton finds Chandler for alley-oops at a higher rate than any point guard finds any other player. Their connection seems to be telepathic at this point and the toughest part about it is that not many are athletic enough to stuff Chandler at the rim once he is primed for takeoff. Along with this there is Chandler’s elite rebounding talent as well as his very solid free throw shooting for a big man making a piece that is not only needed, but integral to the Knicks having a chance to win the title.
2. The Growth Of J.R. Smith
Mike Woodson has seemed to be the solution when it comes to the enigma of J.R. Smith. This year, Smith has cemented himself as the surefire sixth man of the year, and this is attributed to his growth as a player. Formerly only a scorer, Smith has elevated his game to include good defense, good passing and now takes the ball to the paint at a way higher clip. Smith became so good at pick and roll efficiency this year that at one point, his points per on pick and roll plays was better than Chris Paul’s.
During the team’s thirteen game winning streak, Smith would consistently and aggressively drive to the basket and force teams to foul because they had no other choice. With this part of Smith’s arsenal, it has allowed him to get off his patented fall away jump shots more consistently and has given him much more space to launch threes. Smith was a big reason the Knicks couldn’t get past the Heat in the first round last year. If the Knicks are to go far this year, he will be a big reason they do.
1. The Dominance Of Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is this year’s scoring champion, and if it wasn’t for LeBron James’s epic stretch of play during the Miami Heat’s 27 game win streak, he might’ve been the MVP too. That’s how good Anthony has been this year. After hurting his knee and hearing the doomsday callers for the Knicks chiming about, Anthony has come back with a vengeance, and at one point he scored 41 points per game on over 50 % shooting in a six-game stretch. His three point shot used to be something you would let him take, but this year it is one of his most lethal weapons.
In April, Anthony shot 54% from the field and 46% from three point territory. The groove he is in right now isn’t just because of his scoring either. In his last ten games, he has averaged 10 rebounds a game and notched six double doubles in his last 12. He has evolved his game to become a small forward with power forward ability and is now the league’s toughest to defend against. Anthony’s teammates are also more than happy to have him lead the team in shots as they always find a way to get him the ball when he’s on the court. Anthony often reciprocates by making smart passes out of double teams that lead to open shots. A lot of people don’t realize the value of the hockey assist in basketball, but when you watch Antony play you can see how valuable it really is.
Anthony has a different look in his eye this year, and if the Knicks are going to challenge for the title, it will be the clutch play and leadership of Carmelo Anthony that gets them to the promise land.Adam Braunstein is a writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter at @adambraunstein. Like him on facebook or add him to your network on google.