The New York Knicks may have been eliminated from this year’s playoffs earlier than expected, thanks to the tough defense and athleticism of the Indiana Pacers, but to say that this season was a failure would be the furthest thing from the truth.
Despite not making the Conference Finals or NBA Finals, New York still managed to win its first Atlantic Division title in over a decade and made the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Star forward Carmelo Anthony won his first scoring title, J.R. Smith was named Sixth Man of the Year and Tyson Chandler was named to his first All-Star team. If you ask me, those aren’t bad accomplishments by any means.
More importantly, just look at how little everyone expected from the Knicks coming into this season. Save for Anthony, Chandler and the oft-injured Amar’e Stoudemire, fans seemed to have a lot of doubt about how well this team could perform after letting Jeremy Lin and “Linsanity” leave in free agency, only to be replaced by the hit-or-miss Raymond Felton.
On top of that, GM Glen Grunwald filled the roster with a bunch of aging veterans in Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace, plus Kenyon Martin late in the season. When it was announced that these players would be on the roster for the 2012-13 campaign, fans appeared quick to write off New York as an aging squad and destined to underachieve down the stretch.
Granted, being eliminated in the Conference Semifinals was surely not an ideal finish in the eyes of team management, but the fact that New York was able to post such a strong regular season record and also take the season series from the rival Miami Heat, is a testament to how special this team really was and could continue to be in the next couple of years.
The age factor certainly needs to be addressed, especially since Grunwald has very little money to work with this offseason, but the fact of the matter is that most of this team is going to be intact for next season, assuming no major moves are made. Mike Woodson has made the Knicks relevant again with this squad, and it’s only fair to keep him aboard for a while and see if more steps forward can be taken.
This season was a success no matter how you look at it, and fans should be excited to see what this roster can do to build on it in the following years.