In 2001 the Philadelphia 76ers made the NBA Finals, bringing back to the city the excitement they hadn’t experienced since when Dr. J was still playing ball. Can you name a single player on that team besides Allen Iverson? Probably not.
Curiously, the New York Knicks could be on the same path for next season, considering the other big names on that roster have not lived up to the expectations. The franchise and the players are expected to go their separate ways next summer. Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani not only didn’t deliver on the floor, but they spent much of their time in New York in the injury list.
What does that mean for the Knicks’ 2014-15 season?
That means that Carmelo Anthony is the only big name out there. He is the guy who will be double teamed, defended closely and scrutinized by the media, much like Iverson. He is the one to be blamed in case things don’t go well.
To help him out, though, president Phil Jackson has assembled an efficient supporting cast that will be essential to their goal of making the playoffs and ending the first-round curse.
Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert will probably be the starters at their respective positions, and the starting lineup will be completed by a defensive two-guard in Iman Shumpert and recently signed versatile big man Jason Smith. Those aren’t very interesting names, right? Sure, but these four will be the foundation of Knicks’ performances. These four players will try to run the triangle offense as best as they can in order to take the pressure off of Melo’s shoulders. It’s going to be hard, but considering their caliber, specially compared to the guys who played last season (chemistry killers Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton), I really think they have a shot at making the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Michael Jordan couldn’t get the Chicago Bulls a championship until Scottie Pippen joined him, and even then he needed Steve Kerr to shoot his clutch three-pointers and Dennis Rodman‘s rebounding dominance. This is probably the same case in New York until 2015 at least, when they will be able to sign another big name like Marc Gasol. Nevertheless, the supporting cast will still be the most important thing about the team. They will be the unsung heroes to help the team achieve their ultimate goal of winning the NBA Championship.