The New York saga of Mike D’Antoni was a fascinating one. This man, exiled from the desert, came east to the concrete jungle, in an attempt to bring a once glorious franchise from the doldrums of the NBA. In 2008, D’Antoni took on a monumental challenge by coming to New York. Sure, the Knicks paid D’Antoni $24 million over 4 years, but the situation in which he was entering was among the worst in professional sports. From 2001 through the 2007-2008 season, the Knickerbockers accumulated a record of 218-356. They had gone though 7 head coaches, 2 general managers and 1 sexual harassment lawsuit. The Knicks were the NBA’s version of Gommorah. Madison Square Garden had become a wasteland in which careers and reputations came to die. Continue reading
Overview: This 66 game regular season is going to be a test for the Knicks this year. This season will test the Knicks ability to play consistent basketball as well as their collective ability to stay healthy. Mike D’Antoni will be challenged to keep his stars healthy. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudmire will be tested as to whether they can coexist on this team. Mike Woodson will be tested to see if he can improve this defense. There are a lot of questions surrounding the 2011 Knicks. There is also a lot of optimism and rightly so.
This team has 2 of the top 5 scorers in the game today. Their starting center was hand picked off the world champions from last season. They have energetic young players surrounding their “big 3” and a new defensive mentality. I expect this to be the best season of Knick basketball since the Patrick Ewing days. The sky is the absolute limit for this team.
My Biggest Concern: Health. Health. Health. This team’s success, in both the regular season and the playoffs, will be predicated by the health of it’s superstars. With Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire having a history of injuries, head coach Mike D’Antoni will have to be careful to not burn his stars out. D’Antoni is notorious for his short rotation and for relying on his starters heavily. This season he cannot do that. Being a D’Antoni fan, I think he will adjust and do a great job this year.
X-Factor: Some people have said Landy Fields or Tyson Chandler. I think the X-Factor for this years Knick team is point guard Baron Davis. When healthy, Davis is a top 10 point guard in this league and if he can return to form relatively soon I think he has a chance to gel nicely with this club. He brings the ability to score as well as the ability to be an absolute wizard passing the basketball. I love Toney Douglas but I think he is a two-guard at heart and would be better suiting coming off the bench. If the Knicks can un-earth the Baron Davis of old, I think they would become a championship team.
Melo will have MVP type season: Yes you read that correctly. Melo, I guarantee, will be a top-5 MVP candidate barring injury. I think, especially early in the season, he will be relied upon as that point-forward and will get others involved. I believe he has a chance to average over 25 points per game, over 8 rebounds per game and over 7 assists per game. As we saw in pre-season, Melo also has a defensive attitude coming into the season. This does not always mean he will be a great defender but at least he will try and I think that is good enough of this Knick team.
The defense will be good enough: No they won’t ever be a dominant defense but I think with the addition and mentality of Tyson Chandler, this defense will be good enough to win. As long as they can slow people down and get some turnovers, this defense will not be a liability for this team. The offense this year should be fantastic and if they can hold other teams on the defensive end this should be a great team.
If met in playoffs, the Knicks DEFEAT the Miami Heat: Yes. You did read that correctly. I think the Knicks match up so well with Miami that they would knock off LeBrick and the queens from South Beach. Tyson Chandler last year was the reason Miami could not defeat Dallas in the NBA finals. His presence down low took away driving lanes from the isolation-orriented Heat offense. Carmelo Anthony is 9-3 career vs LeBrick James. The Knicks have the length and athleticism at guard to slow down Dwayne Wade. Amar’e Stoudemire is a superior player to Chris Bosh. A healthy Baron Davis is miles better than any point guard on Miami’s roster. I believe our bench is better. I think Shumpert, Douglas (he will be on the bench when Davis returns) and Jorts can contribute more than Battier and Mike Miller and god forbid EDDY CURRY. Yes the Heat have EDDY CURRY. The big fat slob that ate all the Knicks money for years now plays for Miami. I think the Knicks really would beat Miami in a 7 game series. It would not come easy and we are not miles better but I think the way both teams are currently constructed that the Knicks would beat them.
Record and Standing: This team I think will finish the season 44-22. I think this team finishes as either the 3rd or 4th seed in the east. I see them being behind Chicago and Miami and just about even with Boston. I think this team wins a first round playoff series this year. I think if they play Miami in the 2nd round they win. If they play Chicago it would be a hell of a series and would be close. The sky is the limit for this team and I think after years of darkness, the light will shine in the garden. A championship is a serious possibility for this Knicks team and I expect them to have a great year.Follow @tarmosino
Overview: The 42-40 New York Knicks had high hopes for the playoffs after qualifying for the first time since 2003. The Knicks battled key injuries as Amare Stoudemire was injured badly for games 2,3 and 4, while Chauncey Billups was injured late in game 1 and missed the entire rest of the series. The Knicks were swept by Boston 4-0. They go into this offseason of CBA uncertainty with optimism not seen by this franchise in many years. While Billups’ 14.2 million dollar option has been picked up, there is still plenty of work to be done in terms of working the roster. Of course resigning Donnie Walsh should be priority number 1, although that is said to be done sometime this week. Overall the team is headed in the right direction but needs some work with its bench as well as adding a big man or two. The Knicks select number 17 in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft
Guards: The point guard situation is filled with uncertainty. Billups’ knee is not all the issues we have. While it’s critical that his knee reaches 100% before the season (if we have a season) starts, the backup point guard position is just as critical. While Toney Douglas played that role well last season, his size suits him better as a backup shooting guard. The backup point guard position is a position that many expect to be filled with the 17th pick in the draft. Anthony Carter’s contract is up and it’ll be interesting to see if he is re-signed. The coaching staff loves his professionalism and leadership and I was impressed with his play down the stretch, especially in game 4 of the playoffs as he sparked a Knicks comeback that ultimately fell short. As far as the shooting guard situation, the bench spots will be determined by what happens in the draft. Landry Fields should be the starter next season, and it is imperative to the teams success that he finds his pre-carmelo trade form. If he cannot, then suddenly the Knicks have a gaping hole at the shooting guard position. While Bill Walker and Andy Rautins will both be under contract next season, I’m not high on either player. Everyone seems to think Walker is okay but I think he’s an oaf, in the playoffs he had like 6 offensive fouls. I’m not a fan. Rautins is a wildcard because we haven’t seen what he can do yet. He was a great shooter in college but we know that doesn’t always translate to the NBA. Roger Mason played well in the 2nd half of the year when he got minutes due to injuries to Walker. Mason also played decently in the playoffs when his name was called but he’s undersized and in D’Antoni’s doghouse. Roger Mason is the only shooting guard who’s contact is expired and he is expected to be let go next season.
Forwards: Armelo, Camare, Batman and Robin. Whatever you wanna call them, they are the keys to the 2011 Knicks season. How they mesh is absolutely key to the offense and how they evolve into 2 way players is key to our defense. Offensively, it has to be about ball movement. While Amare and Carmelo are both great isolation players, the key to their cohesion is going to be ball movement. Granted they are dominant scorers but they aren’t the only scorers on this team. Landry Fields, Chauncey Billups, Shawne Williams and Toney Douglas are all lethal 3 point shooters. In order for this team to make the jump to 50-60 wins next season, the offense needs to feature more than 2 players. Don’t get me wrong, they both need their touches on offense but the throw it to Melo, stand around and watch offense needs to be abolished next season. Same goes for Amare, although he was good at feeding Carmelo on cuts and screens when the plays presented themselves. It shouldn’t be a competition for points, rather a mesh of efficient offense that results in high percentage shots being buried by two of the top 10 scorers in our league today. Defensively, the Knicks are a work in progress. The Heat have shown us that defense wins in the playoffs. As much as I hate Miami, I give their guys credit, namely James, Wade and Bosh, for transforming themselves to a dominant defensive team as well as a quality offensive team run by the big 3 (or 2 depending on how you look at it). This transformation needs to be executed by Melo and STAT as well. If the Knicks can at least get stops when needed, the sky will be the limit for this team that is just loaded with scoring. In terms of the backups, Derrick Brown, Shawne Williams and Jared Jeffries are all free agents this summer. Renaldo Balkman, acquired in the Denver deal, is the only backup forward that remains under contract. I believe that all 3 are decent players but depending on who we get on the market, all 3 are extremely expendable. I love Jeffries but his lack of offense is just sickening to watch. If he’d come back, it would have to be on a veteran’s minimum and he’d have a very minimal role (I would hope). Derrick Brown is very interesting to me. As shown in the Toronto game at MSG, he’s incredibly athletic. He’s a guy we should try to keep for cheap and develop. His athleticism gives me reason to believe he can be a serviceable backup wing player much like Shannon Brown from the Lakers. The player I believe we are most likely to resign is Shawne Williams. While he, like Fields, crapped out a bit at the end of the year, he proved to be a versatile player (having guarded Dwight Howard at one point) and a potent 3 point shooter. I think he has the toughness that we need on this team. We need some Mason’s and Oakley’s that will enforce and I think Williams can be that sort of player.
Centers: Ronny Turiaf was the playoff starter and he’s likely coming back on his 4 million dollar player option. I like Turiaf but not at 4 mil a season. He’s a high energy game but any more than 18 minutes a game and he wears down. I’d like him on a vet minimum and coming off the bench, he’d be a nice piece. Jeffries and Shelden Williams were the other two players who saw minutes at center. While Shelden Williams played well in the season, he saw no minutes in the playoffs leading me to believe he will not be back. The big story for the Knicks at center is Jerome Jordan, the 7 footer we purchased from Milwaukee last summer. He played this past year in Serbia and played well averaging 9 points and 4 boards a game. He should be a strong piece coming off the bench, or maybe starting a la Timofey Mozgov last season. This, along with Point guard is a position that may be addressed with the 17th pick in the draft.