5 Reasons Why New York Knicks Will Win the 2013-14 NBA Title
5 Reasons Why New York Knicks Will Win the 2013-14 NBA Title
Up until recently, there wasn't a whole lot to be excited about when it came to the New York Knicks. In a way, we could take it one step further and say that it was just plain depressing to be a Knicks fan up until the team finally started to attract the kind of talent that one of the best markets and fan bases in the NBA rightfully deserves. With Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler all joining the fold in recent times, the fan base finally had some inkling of hope for being a part of the moments that matter in the playoffs instead of simply being spectators as others around them raise division titles, league awards and ultimately, NBA championships.
That said, the 2012-13 NBA season didn't go all that well for the Knicks once they actually began their strenuous climb towards the top of the mountain as they were thoroughly embarrassed and outplayed in virtually every tangible and intangible aspect of basketball by the Indiana Pacers, leading to a 4-2 series loss for the ones who call the Big Apple home.
With disappointment in sports, the first domino to fall usually is that of significant player personnel changes, something which the Knicks decided to buck the trend on as most of last year's notable contributors in the rotation all return to the team for the 2013-14 NBA season. As well, with the abundance of one-dimensional players on the team last season, the Knicks saw to it that the major transactions of the offseason brought an influx of multi-talented veterans into the organization.
The Eastern Conference will be home to several major contenders for the NBA championship as the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Pacers all will look to stomp one another out in the long, tedious and difficult quest towards advancing to this year's NBA Finals. Although at present time many overlook the Knicks within these conversations, there is more than enough reason to believe that the they could shock the basketball world by winning the NBA championship this upcoming season.
All signs point to five key elements being front and center in any prospective run at an NBA title by the Knicks this season.
If you're looking for a reason as to why such a talented collection of players simply looked outmatched against a scrappy but slightly overachieving Indiana Pacers squad, look no further than the injury bug.
First of all, the New York Knicks' defense begins and ends with the interior presence of Tyson Chandler, the NBA's 2011-12 Defensive Player of The Year. That said, to say that Chandler had a little trouble with the injury bug would be like saying that Steve Novak had a little trouble crashing the glass on a consistent basis or that Andrea Bargnani at times looked like a deer in headlights on defense for his former team, the Toronto Raptors. In a season that saw him suffer from a budging disk in his neck, a wrist injury and flu ailments at the most crucial of times, it's easy to see why his game might just bounce back with a clean bill of health this upcoming season.
With Amare Stoudemire, you're essentially looking at damaged goods. With balky knees he has developed over the course of the past few seasons due to his overuse early on in his Knicks career, he is no longer a player that can be counted on for the kind of production his contract dictates he should be putting up on a nightly basis. That said, if his 14.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in limited minutes are any indication, Stoudemire is still a player that can add notable offensive punch when healthy enough to step onto the court.
Along with the two stated above, having two summers of preparation and recovery since his ACL tear will only help Iman Shumpert in his attempts to becoming a key cog of Knickerbocker success this upcoming season. Health will always be a question mark for the Knicks, but if they remain healthy, the talent on the roster is undeniable.
4. Depth of Talent
Perhaps the worst kept secret about the Knicks is their possession of a roster full of talented elite level basketball players.
Returning from last season, the defensive presence of Tyson Chandler, explosive scoring ability of J.R. Smith and Amare Stoudemire, lock-down perimeter defense of Iman Shumpert and exploits of Raymond Felton all will provide significant minutes for the Knicks this season.
Oh, and that certain 2012-13 NBA scoring champion and elite level talent that one Carmelo Anthony brings to the table.
While that talent might have proven insufficient in seasons past, the addition of two players in Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace adds enough to the equation to be very optimistic about the year ahead in New York City.
With Bargnani, the Knicks get a player that has struggled with the concept of help side and team defense throughout his career but can score the ball in a variety of ways that very few 7-foot players are able to do. With a quick first step for a man of his size as well as excellent jump shooting ability, the lifting of negativity and pressure that seemingly drowned his career should be a revelation in New York should he enter as the first or second man off of the bench expected to score and nothing much more.
As for World Peace, the grittiness and toughness that are brought to any team with the player formerly known as Ron Artest cannot be underestimated. He brings his eccentric but lovable personality and championship experience to a roster that outside of Tyson Chandler really lacks in the latter department.
As stated earlier, with the health of Tyson Chandler no longer a concern, the defense automatically gets a leg up in comparison to what we witnessed from the unit in that department at the closing of last season.
With Chandler's interior presence, reliable perimeter defenders will be crucial in taking the Knicks from merely a good defensive team to one that can throw labels such as "elite" and "formidable" onto itself. With Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin, the Knicks have three great and versatile defenders up to just such a task.
The crucial element in the Knicks' success will rest on the establishment of this defensive identity that has wavered and lacked at times these past few seasons. If Andrea Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony and the other average defenders on the team can effectively buy into the system and their roles within it on the defensive end, the Knicks should have a chance to stay with any team on any night merely because of the ability to keep the game close.
2. Development of Iman Shumpert
Last season, recovery and strengthening of the torn ACL that ended Iman Shumpert's season one year earlier was the prime focus for the talented young shooting guard. This season, with the chance to see significant minutes and an expanded role on offense thanks to dedication and subsequent improvement in his game, Shumpert has the chance to be one player that swings the tides in the Knicks' favor in any game and potentially their season.
Among the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, an element that is vital to possess to stop the dominating perimeter talents present throughout the league, Shumpert will be crucial in both the team's defensive identity and success as well as the balance of contribution for the Knicks. If he is able to effectively build off and reach some of the significant potential that resides within him, he will undoubtedly be one of the most important players in a potential Knicks title run this season.
1. Carmelo Anthony
Finally, we've come to the head honcho, the alpha dog, the biggest apple in the vastness of New York's Central Park. In Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks possess a true superstar and one of the premier scorers the league has seen in recent times.
With a game that is gaining traction on certain portions of the floor each and every season, there aren't many ways in which Anthony cannot score. Although there are holes in his overall game, namely his defense and less than stellar rebounding, the game is won by putting up at least one more point than your opponent. And with Anthony the Knicks possess a player that not only scores in bunches but one that isn't afraid of taking the shot late in close games.
For the Knicks to reach their lofty expectations, the pressure will rest squarely on Anthony to be not only productive on the floor but pro-social and calming presence off of it in the locker room. If Anthony can raise his game from merely a prolific scorer to one of a well rounded superstar with few evident flaws in his game, the Knicks will possess the elite caliber talent that championship banners are raised with.