With an early exit at the hands of the eventual champions, the New York Knicks' season has once again been labeled a bust. The fall of Mike D'Antoni has caught more headlines than the rise of Mike Woodson, while the detachment of Amar'e Stoudemire's hand has brewed as much of a storm as the helping hand of Jeremy Lin.
As will be life in the New York media.
As we look forward on the 2013 NBA season, many will look to 2012 and note the flaws of what happened and the dreams of what could have been. Rather than join the pack and criticize the early-exiting Knicks, the most applicable evaluation would be of the team they've become, not the postseason failure they've suffered.
After concluding the first half of the season with a mediocre 18-18 record, the New York Knicks fell victim to a six-game losing streak. With three of those losses coming by double-digits, the future appeared dim for the Mecca of Basketball as missing the postseason became a legitimate possibility.
And then came the insanity that no one reported.
The Knicks closed out the year on an 18-6 run, including nine wins against postseason teams. The run was highlighted by the re-emergence of superstar Carmelo Anthony, who scored at least 30 points in eight of the Knicks' final 12 outings. He also posted three double-doubles and a triple-double, as well as two 40-point games.
Just remember that teams win titles, not players.
As we move beyond Carmelo, we arrive at reigning Defensive Player of the Year and 2011 NBA champion Tyson Chandler. Further than that, we find Amar'e Stoudemire, a four-time visitor of the Western Conference Finals and the 2011 star of the New York Knicks.
In an era in which owning a Big Three leads to championship realizations, is it possible that the Knicks' trio is the next to break through?
As we note the shortcomings of the Knicks' star lineup, we seem to have overlooked the importance of an offseason. Much like the Los Angeles Clippers, who were heavily hyped, the Knicks were forced to learn how to play with each other on the go. By learned, of course, it's meant to be said that they never discovered how to work with each other.
With that being known, how can we ignore the upside?
Under Mike Woodson, the Knicks worked their way to becoming the 11th ranked defense in the NBA. This was a direct result of Chandler's contributions, but also due to an elevated effort from the unusual suspects: Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.
Both offensive-minded player applied themselves defensively in ways that we'd never seen. This could be correlated to Chandler's presence, but also the play of rookie Iman Shumpert, Smith's first line of competition for playing time.
With the newfound effort exhibited by the Knicks on the defensive end, as well as the powerful presence of superstar scorers Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, New York's roster may be the most well built it's ever been.
So what's next for the Knicks? Will we witness another year of disappointment? Or will this be the year that the Knicks' defense leads them to postseason success?
For the first time since 2000, the New York Knicks will make a deep playoff run.