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The Knicks are legit. If they can keep this up is another question.

Nov 16, 2012, 1:25 PM EDT

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith celebrates as he faces the crowd after making a shot against the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York Reuters

The Knicks are 6-0, the last undefeated team in the NBA — and it’s not a fluke.

They are defending better than anyone in the league, giving up just 93.6 points per 100 possessions, via Hoopdata. (Anyone who says they just started defending this year wasn’t watching last year.) Their offense with Carmelo Anthony at the four is clicking, they are averaging 111.3 points per 100 possessions, again best in the NBA. Raymond Felton back at the point has steadied the decision making and added points.

If you questioned their competition, they just knocked off the Spurs in San Antonio. They are moving the ball on offense; their defensive rotations and hustle are sharp for this time of the season.

They are legitimate…

Well, let’s define legitimate. We are 7.3 percent of the way into their regular season. When we look at an East where the 76ers are without Andrew Bynum and the Celtics are struggling to find their groove, suddenly the idea of a top 3 or 4 seed and advancing out of the first round of the playoffs seem very legitimate.

But that’s not what Knicks fans are thinking… or at least starting to let themselves dream about.

And I’m far from sold on those big dreams. Because it’s a long season. Because of regression to the mean. And because there are some big hurdles ahead. (Oh, and because of the Miami Heat.)

First, the long season. Showing you can string together six good games — the first six, or six in January — only shows potential, not the ability to sustain a level of play. The Knicks will continue to be legit because they are defending, they are not going to fall off the map (baring major injury). But looking like a contender in November and in May are two very different things.

Second, regression to the mean — the Knicks are playing over their heads right now.

This season they are shooting 42.8 percent from three, a huge jump from the 33.6 percent of last season. J.R. Smith is shooting 73.7 percent from three through six games. That is not going to last. New York will be better from three than last year, but they are not going to keep hitting threes at this rate, and that is going to impact the rest of their offense when Jason Kidd is missing those threes in the fourth quarter, not burying them.

Generally, shots are just falling for the Knicks — they are hitting the highest percentage of spot-up jumpers in the league. They are getting 23.4 percent of their offense from spot-up shoots and they are hitting 45.1 percent of those shots (stats via Synergy Sports). That will slip.

Or, there is this note on twitter from Zach Lowe of Grantland: “Knicks have turned the ball over 9.9% of their possessions. Would be easily the lowest TO rate in league history. Uptick coming.”

Things are going to normalize for the Knicks.

And then they are going to have to integrate Amare Stoudemire back into the offense.

This really remains the question out there — the offense is clicking with Carmelo Anthony at the four, can you really start Stoudemire at the four and move Anthony back to the three again? Not and succeed at this pace. Right now the Knicks are getting 15.5 percent of their offense from isolation and they are shooting just 36.7 percent in isolation (13th in the NBA).

The Knicks are sharing the ball right now, they can’t go back to ‘Melo isolating on the wing 23 feet from the hoop. Not and win.

There’s a lot of potential with this Knicks team — Tyson Chandler has compared the makeup of this squad to the 2011 Dallas Mavericks title team. That’s lofty, and that team needed a Texas-sized load of things to go right for them to get the ring.

Things are not going to keep going this right for the Knicks, and when they don’t we’ll see what kind of team this really is.

  1. jjacks1122 - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Will be interesting to see how Amare factors into all of this when he returns

  2. senorpapino - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    Knicks are more than legit. They are clearly the best team in basketball right now (key being right now).

    Only undefeated team.
    Beat Miami by 20 at home.
    Beat Spurs on the road.
    5 out of 6 wins by double digits.
    #1 offense and #1 defense right now (per 100)

    The keys going forward will be Amare and Shumpert coming back, Kidd’s health, and JR Smith’s continued success. Based on the east so far, there is no reason to think they won’t be a top 3 seed in the playoffs and could easily be the 1 (with Wade already hurt again).

    • zacksdad - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      They have played only 6 games. Over the 82 games teams will figure them out and start to take them more seriously. I believe the will be a 4th – 6th seed. Not bashing them, just do not believe they have a complete great team. They are doing great for what they have though.

    • holi23 - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      They should get better with Shumpert back, assuming he has no slippage from his injury or he will find his form by the playoffs. His athleticsm and defense are key for the old legs on the club.

      They just need to hope Amare doesn’t even come back this year, it seems like they play worse when both Amare and Melo are together

    • cmehustle - Nov 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      Idk. I would say clearly the best team in basketball is the NBA Champion Miami Heat. Right now all the way until they crown another team in June. Emphasis on from now until June.

  3. staff2cj - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Should be interesting. it’s so early and the Knicks are a old team.

  4. chargerdillon - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    This is a team that functions best without all of it’s stars on the court. They played their best ball when a team player like Lin stood in for Anthony.

    And now here we are again with another big star in Amare out and they’re playing their best ball.

    Am I the only one who thinks the Knicks biggest problem is the fact they’ve put together a star studded roster that FAILS?! As soon as all the big pieces are together, things will fall apart.

    More importantly if the Lakers go on a terror to the NBA finals with D’Antoni as their coach, what does it say again about the mangement in New York.

    It sure looks like the person pulling the strings has no idea what vision he’s trying to create for his team other than the one he wants, continues to fail.

    Hurry back Amare, can’t wait for the drama to return

  5. clevelandschronic2 - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Like someone said wait till amare returns and things will collapse like they always do. And melo will go back to doin what melo does best hog the ball and make the offense stagnant then take jump shot after jump shot. Still not gettin out the first rd of the playoffs. Nyk arent even the best team in Ny. Nets make it farther guaranteed

  6. yousuxxors - Nov 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Keep hating. Their stars are not old. Jr smith is hitting so high because of the wide open looks and smart decision making. They are deep and play hard team bball. I know the shooting wont be lights out all year but their d will. They spanked miami already and dwade will be hurt all year. Number one seed here we come. Amare comes back we get more points … Shump comes back and we get a great wing defender.

  7. hartdaddy - Nov 16, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    Yup, Raymond Felton & Jason Kidd, two high I.Q. PGs who aren’t turnover prone…they’re just gonna flip out & start
    turning the ball over.

    Our Spot up shooters, guys like Steve Novak, JR Smith, Kidd, Felton & Carmelo Anthony are just forget how to hit open J’s?

    Team Defense will just vanish, the ball movement will just vanish, Mike Woodson will just cease being a good coach. Old school basketball fundamentals are just gonna no longer work.

    & as for Amare coming back & messing up chemistry, reality check…the Knicks are 7-1 under Woodson with Amare & Melo on the court together.

    The 2012 Knicks new slogan should be “JUST BELIEVE”, because yes, they’re legit & guess what, they’re only gonna get better as the year progresses.

  8. Mr. Wright 212 - Nov 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    People act like we think we’re going 82-0.

    As far as keeping up the flow, having the best defense in the NBA (certainly not going to stop that with Woodson hammering it home all game, every game) and the most efficient offense, the most depth and quality depth, the best perimeter defense (with Shump back) in the NBA.

    2011-2012 is over, Heat “fans”, and everyone who acts like what you saw last year from the Knicks is relevant.

  9. dysraw1 - Nov 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    never did question the legitimacy of this group. but im sure that teams are making adjustments as we speak.

  10. raseinstein - Nov 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    It’s not about how you start the season but its about how you finish the post season.

  11. dysraw1 - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    you know on my first post i only read the title, and not the article. so when did read it i was like what drivel, dude you are lost in the sauce. what an insult to say in essence that Woody’s crew is gonna fall apart. this early notice to the league when you come see us bring your A game

  12. starks3 - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Haters going to hate all you got to do is just ride on. Time to put the league on notice. Raymond Felton is going to be an all star this year

  13. michaeljordanseviltwin - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    The title is an oxymoron. IF the Knicks are legitimate THEN they will keep it up. If they aren’t then they won’t.

  14. bossaliniee - Nov 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    A lot of people doubted them before the year too right on this app. Talking bout their gonna need crutches to walk to the stadium.Thats why I always believe in myself and will never listen to the na Sayers. Haters cry me a river!

  15. pricejustin24 - Nov 17, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Helin is a douche who needs to smash his keyboard. Do us all a favor and merk yourself you Canadian fuk

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