The New York Knicks is a team seemingly on the rise, yet a team that looks to be in quicksand.
The Knicks made the playoffs last season as the 7th seed which isn’t the glamor life, but it’s something for a fan base that knows nothing but disappointment lately. The “resurgence” was initially supposed to center around the tandem of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire with the basket being protected by Tyson Chandler. The supporting cast wasn’t very strong, but the hope of fans was still present. Internal turmoil revolving around ex-coach Mike D’Antoni caused front office pains as well as on the court pains. Anthony, when actually playing, seemed to do everything the coach didn’t want him to do. Stoudemire seemed to make all the wrong decisions on offense. To Stoudemire’s credit it didn’t seem like he was trying shuffle D’Antoni out the door. D’Antoni was also at fault in the way he utilized the front court players he had. Anthony did much better at the 4, but of course that would mean bringing Stoudemire off the bench. It would have been great to see how that would have played out, but there was the dark cloud of the Amar’e contract. The sheer size of the deal guaranteed him continued starting status, which of course meant Melo would suffer in efficiency.
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The lone bright spot for New York, outside of Chandler, was Jeremy Lin. A whirling dervish of a point guard who brought new excitement to the city while its top two players brought frustration. We don’t need to recap this part in detail, because it has been so well chronicled. Lin lit up opponents and the city in a dreamy 25 game stretch, some of which happened in the absence of Melo and Amar’e. D’Antoni loses his job, which didn’t seem like a great outlook for Lin’s potential or chances of staying with the Knicks. Lin then goes down before the playoffs begin, and does not make a return. Thus ended the brief glory of Li mania in the big apple.
An interesting thing happened under coach Mike Woodson though, and that was Melo going absolutely crazy at the end of the season. Stoudemire was out which shifted Anthony to the 4, and from there he caused mayhem. In April he shot 46% from 3, just under 50% from the field and averaged just under 30 points. This was what Knicks fans had been waiting for, and they loved every bit of it. That level of production flamed out during the playoffs as Amar’e made his return a few games before. Anthony still scored against the Heat, but it was a labored effort of inefficiency. The Knicks managed to pull off one win, and then the season was over.
It’s unknown whether or not Woodson will attempt to play Melo at the 4 spot for longer stretches during the upcoming season, but he’d be wise to do so. Some situational lineup shifts would have to be worked out, but it’s something that can be done. The point guard situation is interesting to say the least. Lin is out, and Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd are in. Neither Felton or Kidd can provide as potent of an attack on the rim as can Lin. Kidd can still facilitate and hit open threes so he’s an improvement in a sense to the backup spot. Felton’s decision making will be key. If he can involve Chandler in the offense then things should run smoother for him while he’s on the floor. Kidd is familiar with Chandler and will be able to link up with him from time to time. Ronnie Brewer is a new addition as well and will provide the Knicks with a nice baseline attack when he’s in the game. Brewer constantly finds a way to get the ball and immediately go to the rim when he’s down there. He’s also also a solid defender which New York should fully cherish. Another pickup was Marcus Camby who will provide shot blocking and rebounds in a reserve role.
With the other players the Knicks bring back from last season they’re in position to make the playoffs again, and possibly finish in the 6th spot. Amar’e will hopefully return with a more focused game. He went through some personal things off the court last year that surely affected his play, but he wasn’t playing very well before those events anyway. Him going to the rim with greater frequency will be key along with Melo playing within the offense. Efficient Anthony is deadly Anthony. Iman Shumpert won’t return until January or February probably, and even then he won’t be at full strength which takes way from the Knicks on-ball defense. Still, this is a playoff team, albeit a bottom level one. They could very well end up playing better than last year though, and end up with more than one playoff win (If they don’t run against the Heat).