The New York Knicks have a lot in store for the 2012-2013 season. Not only are they entering the season with something to prove, they also have key additions that will help bring them over the top.
After finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference, Carmelo Anthony needs to prove his leadership skills are more effective than what was illustrated last season.
Here are 10 bold predictions of what to expect from the Knicks this upcoming season...
New York played solid defense when Mike Woodson took over. Now that he is in control for an entire season, his impact will really show.
The Knicks started off as the one of the worst defensive teams in the league, but turned it around by finishing 11th best in points allowed per game (94.7).
For those who believe New York can only score, think again.
The chips are in Raymond Felton's favor this year with the Knicks to have a bounce-back season.
Despite coming off a down season, Felton has entered the perfect environment. To start, the man is surrounded by scorers (Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Amar'e Stoudemire, etc.). This allows him to play the role of the distributor where he can solely focus on facilitating the offense.
Plus, keep in mind he has played with a good amount of these players before, like Smith, Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby.
Felton's best year of his career was with the Knicks just two seasons ago, when he averaged 17.1 points and nine assists per game. Expect similar production out of him this season.
Jason Kidd will serve as a great backup point guard to Felton, and he'll be a great three-point shooter too.
Through his 18-year career, Kidd has shot 35 percent from three-point range. Oh yeah, and he ranks third all time in three-pointers made over his career (1,874).
Kidd has always been known for having a great three-point shot. On a team like the Knicks filled with capable three-point shooters, Kidd will rise to the top in three-point percentage.
We really don't know how much longer Marcus Camby can go on for, but he definitely hasn't stopped.
Last season was Camby's first season (excluding '02-'03 season when he only played in 29 games) since the 1999-2000 season where he averaged less than 10 rebounds per game, with exactly nine (I know what you're thinking, he should be ashamed of himself).
Camby has been nothing but consistent over the past decade. Now to make this statement, we need to look at his competition, aka Amar'e Stoudemire.
Well, considering he has averaged only over nine rebounds per game in a season just three times over his career, I think it's safe to put your money on the man who had his worst average for the first time in over 10 years.
Seriously though, when is the dude gonna run out of gas?
Many fans were disappointed with Amar'e Stoudemire's performance last season.
Fans are still unsure about what caused his slump, with speculation ranging from injury and playing with Carmelo. If either is the case, the situation will get better.
Stoudemire is only 29 years old, and as we have learned from around the league, it takes time for superstars to learn how to mesh with each other.
This year expect Stoudemire to be, well, Stoudemire.
Right now Ronnie Brewer is listed as the backup shooting guard behind J.R. Smith, but that could easily change.
Brewer provides a solid defensive presence that Smith lacks. Plus, he shot even better from the floor than Smith last season (42.7 percent compared to 40.7 percent).
Smith is also better off when he comes off the bench to provide a quick scoring spark. It's the not the greatest idea to have him starting next to Anthony. Quite frankly, it's a little redundant to have two scorers play next to each other.
So whether or not Brewer does something to gain the starting spot, it's just what is meant to be.
Unfortunately, Iman Shumpert will not be starting the season healthy due to a knee injury suffered from last playoffs, but when he returns do not expect him to miss a beat.
Shumpert showed a lot of promise his rookie year, especially with his stellar defense. In fact, the 22-year-old averaged 1.7 steals per game.
Aside from his defensive abilities, Shumpert also proved to be an effective scoring threat. His scoring ability could be great to complement Anthony's.
There's a reason why he was named to the All-Rookie First Team. He has the talent to be a legit 2-guard in the league and will continue to do his thing.
The Atlantic Division is arguably the most improved division in basketball entering the 2012-2013 season. With teams like the Nets solidifying their frontcourt and adding Joe Johnson, the Sixers and Raptors making their additions, and the Celtics being the Celtics.
But despite the increase in competition, the Knicks have gotten better as well.
They are overall more talented than both Toronto and Philadelphia and have more experience than the Nets. The Celtics are what really stops this prediction from being a very likely outcome.
However, they did lose Ray Allen, and regardless of the void being filled by Jason Terry, no one can fully replace what Allen brings to the game.
They are just too talented not to be considered to win the division.
Last year the Knicks were unlucky to see the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. Assuming they see a different opponent, they should find themselves fighting for a legit chance to be in the Eastern Conference finals.
Assuming the Knicks finish anywhere form the fourth to the sixth seed, they will most likely find themselves playing against either the Celtics, Pacers, Bulls, Nets, Sixers or the Magic (assuming Dwight stays). New York is capable of defeating all of these teams in a seven-game series.
By no means would it be easy, but they definitely could do it.
With a new, solid core of point guards added and another year of experience and growth under their belt, the Knicks should be able to make some serious progress this season.
Alright, this is one of the riskier predictions, but if you look at the variables in context this could happen.
After replacing Mike D'Antoni last season, Mike Woodson already improved the team defensively and will continue to do so this season.
More specifically, the Knicks have themselves in a scenario where they can produce and improve from last season. If they finish the regular season strong and show up in the playoffs, chances are Woodson will be a huge reason behind it.
Obviously this entails playing well on a consistent basis and establishing themselves as contenders, but all of that is possible because the talent on this team is capable.
Basically, the opportunity is there for him and the entire team to seize.