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ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: The New York Knicks

Sep 18, 2013, 8:45 AM EST

Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler AP

Last season: If you’ll recall, New York’s offseason leading up to last year was widely regarded as a joke. Jeremy Lin was let go, Raymond Felton was brought in, and then the Knicks seemed to sign all the oldest players available in free agency. But with the benefit of hindsight, the Knicks did about as well as you could hope for given their lack of flexibility thanks to Amar’e Stoudemire’s albatross of a contract.

Maybe it’s because a championship was never a realistic goal, but the New York’s season felt like a resounding success. Winning 54 games, battling a very, very good Indiana Pacers team in the second round of the playoffs, and developing a style of play to set the table for future teams turned what should have been a wasted season into a building block going forward.

Signature highlight from last season: Do we really have to pick just one from the KnicksTape? Well, alright.

Key player changes:

IN: Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, Andrea Bargnani, Tim Hardaway, Jr.

OUT: Chris Copeland (signed with IND), Jason Kidd (retired), Marcus Camby (traded to TOR), Steve Novak (traded to TOR), Quentin Richardson (traded to TOR), Kurt Thomas (retired), Rasheed Wallace (retired), James White (released)

The Knicks certainly added some players with name recognition, and replaced a lot of end of the bench filler with some pretty solid depth. Buying way, way low on Andrea Bargnani is a risk worth taking (if it wasn’t for that rascally draft pick surrendered), and Udrih and MWP can still produce, even if their games are in the shadows of their names at this point.

The biggest mistake may have been letting go of Chris Copeland. He was under-utilized last year under head coach Mike Woodson, and his ability to stretch the floor and score might be missed. Seeing him go to a conference rival had to sting.

Keys to the Knicks’ season:

1. Can the 3-point barrage continue?

No team in NBA history attempted or made more 3-pointers than the Knicks did last season. The decision to fire up an unheard of amount of 3-pointers certainly paid off, as the Knicks pieced together the 3rd best offensive efficiency in the league last year. The Knicks are on to something on the offensive side of the ball, but can they keep it up with all the personnel changes?

Jason Kidd’s shooting ability with his feet set and his masterful extra passes on the perimeter helped father New York’s perimeter ball sharing that led to a lot of really high quality looks. He’ll be missed along with matchup nightmare Chris Copeland, and it will be interesting to see if Udrih and Bargnani curtail their usual mid-range based attacks and opt to take more 3-pointers. Will old habits die hard?

2. Can Tyson Chandler hold the defense together?

Thanks to a little duct tape, WD-40 and the presence of Tyson Chandler in the middle, the Knicks were able to muster out the 18th best defensive efficiency mark in the league. Now, that might not sound great, but given the injuries, age, and minus defenders on the roster, it probably should have been much worse.

There is good news on the horizon though. Iman Shumpert is fully recovered from his ACL injury, Pablo Prigioni is a known entity now, and Metta World Peace and Tim Hardaway, Jr. should provide some muscle and speed on the perimeter. Ultimately, however, everything defensively for the Knicks boils down to the big man in the middle. If Tyson Chandler gets hurt for an extended period of time, this thing could ugly fast. Having Kenyon Martin a full season will help, but the Knicks will be playing defensive sieves like Bargnani and Stoudemire real minutes. Chandler has to be healthy, and he has to erase a ton of mistakes his frontcourt partners are bound to make.

Something to keep in mind: Over the last decade, no team with a defensive efficiency worse than 15th in the league has made an NBA Finals. Only 20% of those below-average defensive teams have made the playoffs.

3. Can all the personalities co-exist?

The Knicks are two-deep at every position. Everyone won’t be healthy at the same time, but it isn’t hard to imagine there being junctures where playing time becomes a big issue in the locker room. Adding Metta World Peace to this eclectic group of characters may seem like it would push this thing over the top, but in reality the Knicks played some of the most unselfish ball in the league last year. So long as Carmelo is getting his, J.R. is allowed to be J.R., and the big dog in the paint gets fed every now and then, the Knicks just might make it. But if they don’t, it will sure be entertaining.

Why you should watch the Knicks: When Carmelo Anthony catches fire, there isn’t much quite like it in the NBA. The Knicks are a little goofy, but a lot of fun to watch offensively when the ball is really swinging around the horn. Also, J.R. Smith is a national treasure.

Prediction: 51-31. For all the hand-wringing over the Bargnani deal, the Knicks didn’t seem to do an awful lot to swing the needle either way this offseason. There might be some early stumbles as the new additions acclimate to their roles, but so long as Carmelo Anthony is on the floor and the threes keep flying, the Knicks have enough firepower to be finish safely in the 50 win area. That said, this preview will self-destruct if Chandler misses a significant amount of time.

  1. dysraw1 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    this season with the new editions the team should be high scoring. our defense will be questionable at best,but we do have some up grades on that side of the floor. the Bulls are gonna be better, along with a host of others. so focus, health and attitude.will play big roles in our year as usual

  2. onlyavoice - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    They’ll Be Fun To Watch During The Regular Season.
    It’ll Be Funnier Watching Their Post Season, Melo Faking Injuries For Excuses, Chandlers Being Out Played & His Arrogant Smirk Is Wiped Off As They Lose, Jr Smith & World Peace Self Imploding, Wanna-Be Woody Being Clueless Again.
    It’s Going To Be An Amusing 1st Round.

  3. richbertin - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Reblogged this on Starks Raving Mad and commented:
    ProBasketballTalk has the Knicks going 51-31 this upcoming season. Can’t say that I disagree, but much of this is contingent on the health of the roster. These players are a year older and at the advanced age of most of these guys, those knees and backs don’t heal as quickly as they used to. The window for the Knicks to make a deep playoff run isn’t as wide as it was last season, but as the Spurs show us each season, age is a variable that can either work against or for a team’s success. Of course the Knicks aren’t the Spurs though…

  4. dysraw1 - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    dude you are right it really has been rough in the second season. i don’t know about your point of view and all. you definitely have some issues. so much negativity.

  5. cruzan80 - Sep 18, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Health is the only real concern for the Knicks as far as I see. Among all the teams that made the playoffs last season, the Knicks had the most players who missed games due to injury. Chandler, Amare, Melo, Rasheed, Camby, Felton & Kidd all missed at least 10 games last season. Yet they still won 54 games, had a 13 game win streak & advanced to the 2nd round. If theyre healthy….and yes that’s a big “if”…they’ll be no lower than a 2nd seed again & will be an incredibly tough out in the playoffs.

  6. cruzan80 - Sep 18, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Health is the only real concern for the Knicks as far as I see. Among all the teams that made the playoffs last season, the Knicks had the most players who missed games due to injury. Chandler, Amare, Melo, Rasheed, Camby, Felton, Shumpert & Kidd all missed at least 10 games last season. Yet they still won 54 games, had a 13 game win streak & advanced to the 2nd round. If theyre healthy….and yes that’s a big “if”…they’ll be no lower than a 2nd seed again & will be an incredibly tough out in the playoffs.

  7. jimeejohnson - Sep 18, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Those great Knicks teams that competed for, and actually won, championships thrived on defense. From Willis Reed to Patrick Ewing, the big guy in the middle means a lot to any team playing for all the marbles. One of the rare exceptions has been the Miami Heat, and most of us know why they have had such success without that exceptional presence in the middle: LeBron James. One can only wonder what might happen if The King takes his talents to the Knicks (or the Nets).

  8. dynasonic - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Being that I am a Pacers fan… I couldn’t imagine the hatred that would course though my veins if Lebron James went to the Knicks. I already “hate” the dude because of… well… screw him he’s on the Heat. Now putting him in a Knicks uniform?… My ears are getting hot just thinking of it.

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