New York Groove: Knicks Off to Best Start Since 1999
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 17:11
The New York Knicks enter play today with a 3-0 record, their best record three games into the season since the start of the 1999-2000 campaign. Jeff Van Gundy led the Knickerbockers to 50-32 record, taking them to Game Six of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Indiana Pacers. New York has been through great turmoil in the interim, becoming the laughing stock of the league and now finally regaining respectability in recent years under former coach Mike D’Antoni. I unsure as to whether or not the Knicks will replicate their 50-32 performance in ’12-’13, but I will, however, I will guarantee that New York will win at least 45 games and finish second in the Atlantic Division, ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
I admit, I was puzzled by some of the Knicks’ moves over the offseason: letting young fan favorites Jeremy Lin and Landry Fields, trading young big man Josh Harrellson, just to name a few. The most frustrating was letting Lin go. James Dolan has been overpaying for washed up players since he’s been in control of the team, why not take a chance on the young Lin? Worst case scenario, he develops into an awesome bench player. Not to mention the fact that his jersey would have likely remained among the top sellers among Knicks fans. Anyway, New York’s starting point guard is now Raymond Felton, who had previously been with the team before being sent to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Although keeping Lin might have been the popular pick, it is becoming apparent that re-acquiring Felton was the smarter of the two possible moves. With scorers like Carmelo Anthony and Steve Novak and big men like Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, Felton is the better option, as he is more likely to dish it out than Lin, who is more of a scoring point guard. Also, with the addition of Jason Kidd, the Knicks have two very legitimate options at point guard. Granted, Kidd is much older, but on a team of veterans, Kidd will be able to help Felton is dishing it to the scorers.
Another surprise concerning the Knicks is the quality of defense they have been playing. Yes, it has only been three games, but they are first in the NBA in average points per game allowed with 85.3. Over the past few years, New York has had no problem scoring; however, the Knicks are now the oldest team in NBA history (yikes). For a Knicks fan, it is kind of startling; however, it certainly makes for a better defensive team, which the Knicks have not had for a while. Tyson Chandler, 2012 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and additions of Marcus Camby in the frontcourt and Kidd in the backcourt have now made the Knicks a formidable defensive team. Not to be forgotten, Iman Shumpert, who is recovering from a torn ACL and meniscus, has the potential to become one of the better young defensive players in the NBA.
Also injured is Amar’e Stoudemire. Amar’e has always been plagued with injuries, but his knees are really beginning to break down. The Knicks’ main scoring option is and must be Carmelo, with Chandler snagging hitting tip-ins and alley oops down low. Although he may not want to admit it, as a result of his deteriorating health, his best days are behind him. When he eventually returns from his knee injury, Amar’e would be best serve the team by reducing his minutes at power forward, swapping time in a rotation with Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, and Marcus Camby. The most important thing for the Knicks, however, is that they have options for big men (I just listed five, including Stoudemire and Chandler). Of course, Amar’e would still get the majority of the minutes, but in order to keep him fresh, a more part-time role would be best for everyone.
Considering the time that Stoudemire has missed due to injury, along with Mike D’Antoni’s resignation, the Knicks are now unquestionably Carmelo Anthony’s team. I don’t know if I speak for most Knicks fans, but I was initially uncomfortable with the idea of ‘Melo taking the reins of the team. However, Amar’e is breaking down and Anthony is showing that he is one of the best pure scorers to play in the NBA in recent memory. Yes, the Knicks are old, but the Celtics have been old forever, or at least it seems so. Many have the Nets finishing ahead of the Knickerbockers, but I honestly believe that the Knicks will finish ahead of Brooklyn’s new team. Who knows, maybe they’ll even be able to exact a little revenge on the upstart Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals this spring.