With the competition in the Eastern Conference fiercer than it has been in a very long time, the Vegas odds for the New York Knicks have set their over/under for the 2013-14 season at 48.5 games, a good bit lower than the 54 wins they pulled out last year. This is, of course, totally fair, but I’m confident that the Knicks can land on the “over” side of that projection (though not by much).
The Knicks will bring back an elite offensive unit with a very strong bench, and they should continue to be one of the league’s best three-point shooting teams. There’s plenty of versatility on the offensive side of the ball, led by Carmelo Anthony, a matchup nightmare capable of blowing past power forwards and using his strength to bully small forwards on the block. The Knicks’ bench has also added some depth, which should allow them to keep that offense humming even with their star player off the floor. They’ll be held back by their defense. They have a few very strong defensive players (Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace, Kenyon Martin) in their rotation, but they also employ several players that are massive liabilities on the defensive end, and they’ve done little to address their spotty perimeter defense from last season. This will keep them out of title contention, but they should still be good enough as a whole to squeeze out 50 wins.
While the rest of the Eastern Conference may have gotten stronger, the Atlantic Division is a mess, and the Knicks should be able to pile up easy wins against everyone that isn’t the Brooklyn Nets. The Philadelphia 76ers are getting ready for some of the most brazen tanking the league has ever seen, the Boston Celtics are rebuilding and have no go-to scorer and the Toronto Raptors will be mediocre at best. Plus, the Nets have an aging roster that likely won’t be able to play Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for more than 30 minutes a night. The Knicks should be able to win the Atlantic division and beating up on the conference’s weaker teams should get them right around the 50-win mark, assuming the team stays healthy.