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PBT Season Preview: The New York Knicks

Sep 13, 2010, 12:07 PM EDT

Gallinari_celebrates.jpgToday starts PBT’s run through every team in the NBA, looking at the changes and upcoming season. Every weekday from now through the start of the season a new team will be the focus. We start with the Knicks and will spend this week in the Atlantic Division.

Last season: An uninspiring 29-53 record that was not good enough to make the playoffs, for roughly the 495th consecutive season. And, as always, it was Isiah’s fault.

Head Coach: Mike D’Antoni, who if the Knicks really struggle again will find out just how much fun the New York media can be.

Key Departures: David Lee, Chris Duhon, Al Harrington, Jordan Hill

Key Additions: Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike

Best case scenario: Making the playoffs. Well, unless they find a way to trade for Carmelo Anthony, then the expectations would fast become unreasonable.

For that to happen: First, the Carmelo to New York trade is about as likely as Jessica Alba calling me today (the Knicks don’t have the picks and young players Denver would want in a trade; if Melo is coming to the Knicks it is as a free agent, meaning he is willing to forego $10 million or more). So lets take that off the table and talk about this team making the playoffs with the roster it has.

This radically remade team would have to gel quickly, and that would start with Raymond Felton growing into the Steve Nash role faster than expected. Felton is actually a very efficient scorer in transition — last season for the Bobcats he shot 66.4 percent in transition. The question is can he direct and set up guys well at that pace. Felton also is going to have to be better as the pick-and-roll ball handler, and he shot 47 percent in that role last year  – defenses know and fear what Stoudemire does as the roll man, they will back off and dare Felton to make them pay.

The rest of the key players like Anthony Randolph and Danilo Gallinari — who we think will have pretty big years — would have to find their sea legs quickly.

The Knicks also would have to play passable defense, particularly in transition — last season the Knicks gave up more points per possession in transition than they scored. That has to change. Also, the Knicks need to get good rebounding and production out of Ronny Turiaf at center. Or Eddy Curry… yea, that could happen.

More likely the Knicks will: Be the most fun Knicks team to watch in years, however will take some time to gel. They may well get off to slow start. They won’t play great defense. There will be flashes of what Randolph can do, Stoudemire will throw down over people, Gallinari should take a step forward. There are pieces here and they are going to be entertaining to watch.

But how to fit all the pieces together will take time. Look for some D’Antoni to throw out wild lineups for a while, trying to find what works. Can a Felton/Toney Douglas backcourt work? Traditional positions will be out the window as Stoudemire may get some run at the five and the three, all with the goal of just finding lineups that work. By the end of the season, if they are healthy, expect the Knicks to be playing better.

And there is nothing wrong with that. Just like it took time to climb out of the hole the franchise was in, it will take time to build something meaningful. These Knicks will be so much more entertaining and fun that the losses will not sting as much. There is hope now, you will see it building. Live with that, enjoy it, revel in it. Don’t expect at title right now, expect to have fun.

Oh, and you can safely bet on a season that no matter what the team does on the court there will be a tidal wave of speculation about every decent free agent or trade piece out there.

Prediction: 38 wins, an improvement but in a new and deeper East they will miss the playoffs again by a few games. That will lead some in New York to question if D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh have done what they promised. But those people will forget how far they had to come. The Knicks will be the best they have been in years, with a promise for the future intact. That is a bug step out of the hole for this franchise.

  1. tish - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Amare’s best days are behind him w/o Nash and will get injured, Gallo will make and miss a lot of threes, no one will play defense.
    Honestly, I think Cleveland will be better. New system with Byron Scott, Jamison will go back to his role as lead scorer/locker room hero, JJ Hickson and Amare’s production will be equal by the 11-12 season. Still got Varejao.. Cleveland’s got a little more heart even if it’s still being repaired.

  2. Re; tish - Sep 13, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    how did this become about cleveland?

  3. sexy rexy - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    HA this guy said Cleveland.

  4. Knick Fan Still - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    Disagree. Amare and the Knicks will have a very very good season and free agents will want to be the missing piece in NY

  5. CountZero - Sep 13, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    As a Knicks fan, I think this is actually a good prediction.
    Realistically, you have a bunch of guys who haven’t played together trying to gel in a very complicated offense. They will struggle early on. Then they will begin to show flashes, and late in the season they will start to become a dangerous opponent for the better teams.
    38 wins is a pretty good over / under. There is a chance that they will figure it out earlier than expected and win something like 42-45, but I would say that’s the high end and not the expected. I’m happy they are in a good spot, young and with a manageable cap. I’ll actually pass on a ‘Melo deal at this point.

  6. Paul - Sep 13, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    @ Tish–Are you crazy? What indication do you have that Amare’s “best days are behind him”?? He’s only 27 years old and played a full season with no problems last year. He’s just as explosive as he’s always been and is arguably the best PF in the league. You’re basing what you say on nothing. Same goes for Gallinari. First of all, he;s more than just a 3 point shooter, which you would know if you watched the Knicks last season–and how are we already making predictons about what kind of defense they will play. I think that one of the things that stands out about this Knicks team as compared to previous seasons, is that they have some pretty solid defenders now. Felton, Chandler, Douglas, Azubuike and Turiaf are all capable defenders, and even Gallo is showing that he can defend soundly, despite people parroting that he can’t. Stoudemire can defend when his hearts in it, and Randolph is long as hell and a shot blocking threat at all times. I think this Knicks team is crazy athletic and dangerous.

  7. Dan't - Sep 13, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    If you don’t know the game that is okay… but don’t fake it.
    You might have GUESSED right about an Amare injury but medical consensus is that after as long without re-injury he is beyond being a real risk.
    And to say that “Summer League Hall of Famer” JJ Hickson will equal Amare’s contribution after just one year as a starter is foolish.
    Hating is fine..but pretending to have knowledge is childish.

  8. Dan't - Sep 13, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    I am a Knicks’ fan as well and I agree with chemistry and gelling. However, the misnomer that the team’s offense is complicated and that this will be a hurdle is pretty wrong IMO.
    The reason players like the offense is that it ISN’T complicated. It is a smarter version of what a pick up team that has people familiar with each other would have. It is a push offense with a pick ‘n roll. Not complicated at all.
    That is why players think the style is fun it realize less on remembering plays and remembering everyone’s position and more on movement and a vague notion of spacing.
    One of the easiest offenses to learn IMO.

  9. Matt - Sep 13, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    No mention of Mozgov?

  10. Mase - Sep 13, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    Mozgov will play a bigger role than anyone outside of the Knicks training camp knows. They didn’t give him lotto draft pick money to not play him on a sub-.500 team. The Russian Hammer will sure up the paint and so will Turiaf for that matter which will leave Amare to do what he does best which is score in bunches. A.Ran will be the next KG, book it! Gallo should get a ton of wide open looks this year with so many other scorers on the court too. Chandler is the only question mark to me, will he step up and become the Caron Butler or will he become a Jarvis Hayes?
    Felton will be an all-star this year, just watch is footage on the fast break and when Larry Brown allowed them to play uptempo he was incredible! Remember, he won a NCAA title on a fast paced run n gun UNC team in college. He will average 17pts, 9dimes per game.

  11. Fanatic - Sep 14, 2010 at 1:28 AM

    Yeah we don’t have anybody that can play Defense… besides Felton, Douglas, Azubuike, Gallinari (I seem to remember him being effective against Mello last season), Randolph, Turiaf & Mozgov… lol! Also, I know Stoudemire’s Defensive abilities are not the greatest – but they are DEFINITELY better than Lee’s (not to mention his Offensive capabilities). So to that first poster – you don’t know what you are talking about. You are obviously a Cavs fan – definitely not a TRUE Knicks fan! I say 2010-2011 Knicks = No. 7 Seed – EASY! Playoffs here we come!
    P.S. LeChoke James is a LOSER!!!

  12. Please no more Isiah - Sep 14, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    @ tish – Dude, are you for real?? Jamison going back to his usual leading scorer/locker room hero role?? What has Jamison ever done on any team at any time to lead you to believe that he is this? Do you even know basketball?? The Knicks are now mostly young, athletic and hungry. How they will gel and how quickly they can gel remain to be seen but I for one am anxious for this upcoming season to see if the Knicks are finally going in the right direction.

  13. Ken - Sep 14, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    “That is a bug step out of the hole for this franchise.”
    “Bug” step, nice proofreading by the writer of this report. LOL

  14. Drew - Sep 14, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    I think 38-40 wins sounds about right to me. I think this team will be able to spread the floor and put points on the board, but what kind of defensive team will they be? I don’t see anyone anchoring the defense in the lane. Turiaf can give sporadic energy minutes off the bench. Felton was torched by Jameer Nelson in last year’s playoffs. Wilson Chandler will add some athleticism and toughness, but I think this team is a player or two away and a year away from competing as they need time to gel.

  15. Fanatic - Sep 14, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    How about Mozgov? He definitly should be able to “anchor defense in the lane.”

  16. Truth - Sep 14, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    The Nets will be better than the Knicks. Losing David Lee and replacing with Amare is essentially a wash. Gallinari will improve, which will help, but I don’t see more than low 30s wins.

  17. Larry - Sep 14, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    Amare was one of 2 Suns (Jared Dudley the other)to play in all 96 regular season and playoff games. If not for an errant finger in the eye two years ago Amare would have missed 1 game in 5 yearssince is micro-fracture surgery. Jason Kidd had the surgery 6 years ago at 32 and is still playing at 38.
    To assume Amare will get injured is ridiculous. Could happen but thmake as statement that he will is nothing but pure speculation. He is a superbly conditioned athlete. He came back from 2 career threatening injuries to make all-NBA.

  18. Travis - Sep 14, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    NY will be much improved and more entertaining. That may not mean much in the playoff race this year because the East has improved a lot. Like the Nets, Wizards and Sixers, there is reason for hope. They will be in a 4 or 5 team race for 8th. They are not better than Heat, Magic, Bulls, Hawks, Celtics,or Bucks. They probably aren’t better than the Bobcats either. Hence the race for 8th. The Wiz will challenge, but lack of depth will doom Wall and Wiz. Cavs will be better than expected, but not enough without a go to guy or All Star capable player (no Varajao is not close), Sixers are too thin up front and if Brand is not Brand then they won’t challenge. The Nets may be closest competition. Lopez will dominate in weak centered East, Harris has a reason to play and addition of Murphy, Favors and Morrow will make a difference. Could be a fun season on the Hudson.

  19. ocgunslinger - Sep 26, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    “That is a bug step out of the hole for this franchise.”
    “Bug” step, nice proofreading by the writer of this report. LOL
    A “Bug” step is not a proofing error but what Kurt meant to say.
    A “Bug” step is really tiny and about the amount of improvement in what we expect from the Knicks.

  20. Jim Bodin - Sep 27, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Why is there no mention of Bill Walker? He has as much potential as most of the rest of the starters.

  21. Fanatic - Sep 28, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Yeah, I think people are low balling Walker as well. I would definitely rather have Walker as our starting 2/SG because Chandler can’t shoot! Walker has proven last season that he can both shoot & take it to the hole (and since he is now lighter = he is faster). Mason is a reserve SG. Once Azu is fully healed he will be our starting SG – but until then we will play him very limited minutes at SG. It will be interesting to see who wins out for starting SG – Walker or Chandler (or even Fields!). I would be surprised if D’antoni starts Chandler as 2/SG however!

  22. John - Sep 28, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Tim Mozgov will have a monster season and contend for RoY.
    You heard it here first.

  23. JAY - Sep 28, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    not a bad prdiction, im a Knicks fan and im realistic enough to see this team is improved but not enough to be a threat in this division. i do think Amare will be worth more like 42-45 wins

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