Now before we start to throw the term around like it’s something easily attained, let’s start off with this simple notion: on paper, the Knicks are just that, elite.
With Carmelo Anthony, a superstar and top ten NBA player, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Andrea Bargnani, and what’s left of Amare Stoudemire‘s once tantalizing ability to bully his way around the court with his skill and athleticism, the Knicks can score the basketball and do so in a multitude of ways.
Likewise, with Tyson Chandler, the 2011-12 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, anchoring the defense with support from Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin, the team possesses just that element of lock down grind it out basketball in both the perimeter and post necessary to attain any meaningful success in the league.
Sadly, something just hasn’t clicked. Even with an early season marred in injury misfortune, this is the kind of team that shouldn’t be sitting at 3-5 on the season while facing more questions than Rob Ford is in Toronto at the moment. Facing such heavy scrutiny so early on, the team is forced to face reality, at least as they see it, at such an unusual point in the season for the confrontation that we could be on the verge of either seeing a major unification and collectivism develop within the current group or major changes that dissect that very group currently not producing in the wins column.
Can the defense survive a month and change without Chandler’s calming and ever important presence on the defensive end? Does the raw potential of Shumpert or the explosiveness of Smith find a new home in favor of more established and consistent performers from night to night, such as Kenneth Faried? Will Stoudemire ever return to even the kind of player that one can trust to put in a effort-laden stretch of minutes within a game, terrorizing on the offensive end while avoiding the current label of true defensive liability slowly being branded on him with every missed assignment and miscue? Are the exploits of Bargnani over the past four games, where he has averaged 21.2 points and six rebounds, a sign that The Magician has finally found his stride and his comfort after leaving the dark cloud of hatred engulfing him behind in Toronto?
Most importantly, is Mike Woodson your head coach going forward?
All are questions that the executives, fans, players and media alike must ask themselves about this team going forward. As with anything in life involving more than a single set of eyes, differences in opinion are all but guaranteed and that holds true as usual in this situation. Some will look at the injuries and struggles of much of the roster at the moment and shout for roster shuffling, coaching changes and a Patrick Ewing comeback, something that would probably go as well as a Charles Barkley PGA golf qualifier. Yet, others will see these same elements and take into account the bad luck, not coming from within but from freak occurrences, something that is destined to inevitably turn in the team’s favor at some point.
Essentially, while some believe the present chaos befalling the team will continue, other eyes see another story. As with all opposites where some see purely negative, others believe Anthony will not continue shooting 43 percent from the field, that the secondary scoring of Smith, Felton, Stoudemire and Bargnani will turn the corner at some point and strike fear into opposing defenses and that a defense that holds so much potential will improve while not being ranked 29th in rebounding in the league.
Some see a lot of darkness in the Knicks’ future, and others do not.
No matter what side of the argument you choose to reside on there is no doubt about the kind of talent that resides on the roster currently assembled for the storied franchise that calls the Madison Square Garden its stage for sports drama and theater.
That said, can they put it together? Can they save their season?
It’s something over eight million people in New York city alone are eagerly waiting to find out.