NBA Debate: Which Is the Better NBA Team in New York?
After what seemed to be an eternity of disappointment in New York, basketball is finally back on the rise in the city that never sleeps.
Not only have the Knicks added numerous pieces this offseason, but the incoming Brooklyn Nets have made significant improvements towards being title contenders as well. With Joe Johnson, C.J. Watson, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, and other players making there way towards the Big Apple, the excitement for the upcoming season is at an all-time high.
There is always something special about an intrastate rivalry, with evidence from the Giants’ and Jets’ constant struggle for superiority of New York (Well, New Jersey if you want to get technical), and we are finally getting that excitement back on the basketball side of things. Recently the schedule has been announced, revealing that the Knicks and the Nets will open up the season against each other at the new arena in Brooklyn. This poses the debate: which is the better New York team?
As a native New Yorker, I took the liberty to compare the two teams from head to toe. The teams were compared in seven different categories, and split a possible ten points for each category (example: if one team excels in a certain area compared to the other, they might get eight points while the other team gets two.).
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Both teams made significant changes towards their backcourts over the offseason. The Nets added 6-time all-star Joe Johnson to pair up with Deron Williams. In addition to Johnson, the Nets also added an exceptional bench player in C.J. Watson, who helped lead the Bulls without Derrick Rose last season. The Knicks added Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd to go along with J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, combining athleticism with experience.
While the Knicks’ backcourt is very respectable, the Nets’ completely blows it out of the water.
Raymond Felton did have success in New York, but ever since his departure, his career has taken a turn for the worst. Since leaving the Knicks his assist average has dropped by two and a half and his scoring average has dropped by about six points. Coming back to New York was a strong desire for Felton as he looks to prove he can make everybody forget about Lin.
When the Knicks signed Jason Kidd, it was assumed that he would take on the role of Jermey Lin’s mentor. Guess not. With Felton most likely grabbing the starting role, Kidd will be no more than a contributor off the bench that will throw in about two or three assists per game.
What the Knicks do have to look forward to is the return of Iman Shumpert. In his rookie season, he took the NBA by storm with his tenacious defense and athleticism. He has a promising future as long as his knee heals.
The Nets don’t have much to worry about here. Deron Williams is on his way to being one of the, if not the best point guard in the league, while Joe Johnson is one of the most athletic shooting guards out there. Now that Williams finally has running mate, he can look to do some damage. C.J. Watson and MarShon Brooks are very talented bench players who will be able to hold the floor while the starters take a breather.
Back Court Split: Nets 8.2 Knicks 1.8
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It seemed almost certainly that the Nets were closing in on Dwight Howard for the second time when he made it known that he would resign with no one except for Brooklyn. While almost all hope is lost on signing the powerful center, the Nets are left with Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, and Gerald Wallace. Definitely nothing too complain about. Brook Lopez is a talented center, however he has had trouble staying healthy over the years, and the Nets’ lack of depth won’t allow for another injury. Gerald Wallace is an all-star small forward, and Kris Humphries does more that what he’s asked.
The Knicks, on the other hand, have the most well-balanced front court trio in the NBA. With three all-star caliber players, its hard to say the Knicks won’t be a dominating force. Tyson Chandler was the defensive player of the year, proving that he can be the Knicks’ leader on the defensive side of the ball. We all know what Carmelo Anthony is capable of, as he is one of the best scorers in the league. Amar’e struggled last year, there is no doubt about it, but we have seen exactly what he is capable of in New York.
While they were all Knicks last year, they were rarely playing together. Amar’e was out with an injury for a while, and so was Carmelo. If all of them can stay healthy, they have the potential to dominate the glass, as well as scoring.
Front Court Split: Nets 2.9 Knicks 7.1
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After a great deal of disappointment, the Knicks finally parted ways with Mike D’antoni mid way through the season. Mike Woodson took on the role as interim head coach, but after going 18-6 for the remainder of the season, “interim” was removed from his title.
Woodson completely transformed the Knicks defense, causing opponents to score far fewer points. The only thing fishy about the Woodson situation is the fact that the Knicks got completely embarrassed by the Miami Heat in the first round; they appeared as if they were a college team practicing against a professional team. Inexcusable. Knicks fans better hope that series was a fluke, and that Woodson can lead the team as he did during the remainder of the regular season.
For the Nets, Avery Johnson is not the worst selection for the head coaching job. He experienced a deal of success in Dallas, including a Finals appearance. However, when he moved to New Jersey he did nothing eye opening with only a four percent winning percentage increase between his second and first year. Now, with a group of talented players, all fingers will be pointed towards Johnson if something goes wrong.
Coaching Split: Nets 5.1 Knicks 4.9
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Last season, the Knicks had one of the deepest teams in the NBA. 2012-2013 will be no different, as they have added even more solid role players to contribute off the bench. Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, J.R. Smith, Kurt Thomas, Steve Novak, and Marcus Camby will all see decent minutes, as they look to propel the Knicks deep into the playoffs. Any team that is eleven deep has what it takes to succeed. Giving starters a rest is very crucial, especially now that they well be playing all 82 games.
While the Nets improved significantly over the offseason, they did not do much to help their woeful bench. In the trade for Joe Johnson, they gave up a number of supporting bench players, decreasing the Nets’ depth, forcing them to solely rely on the attack of their starters. Not having a good bench will come back to haunt them dramatically in the playoffs.
Bench Split: Nets 1.1 Knicks 8.9
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Both of these teams have made significant improvements to take them out of the rubble.
The Knicks didn’t have to make as much of a journey as the Nets, being that they were in the playoffs last year as the seventh seed, while the Nets did not even reach the postseason. Both teams have superstar-type players in their starting lineups with Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson, and Amar’e Stoudemire being the faces of their respective teams.
The one glaring difference is that the Knicks are much deeper than the Nets. With no bench, a few injuries here and there could possibly derail the Nets. The Nets have an advantage in the back court, while the Knicks have a stronger front court. They have two respectable coaches, but the Knicks simply have an advantage when it comes to depth.
Total Split: Nets 17.3 Knicks 22.7