Linsanity maybe be gone from New York, but this season, with their newly revamped roster, the Knicks still have the potential to be the best they've been in a long time.
Head coach Mike Woodson, who led the Knicks to an 18-6 record as the interim head coach, had the team playing better defensively then they had under former coach Mike D'Antoni, who resigned late in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.
Although they lost Jeremy Lin, who was an international phenomenon last season after emerging from the bottom of the roster, and Landry Fields, who had a disappointing season last year after a solid rookie campaign, the Knicks have added more depth and experience to their roster this offseason with the additions of potential Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, and Ronnie Brewer.
With Lin gone, Baron Davis dealing with a serious knee injury, and Mike Bibby most likely not coming back, Kidd and Felton will duke it out for the point guard spot, though both will likely get plenty of minutes. Kidd is coming off one of his least productive and most injury-plagued seasons last year in Dallas, while Felton was really out of place in Portland. Kidd will mostly be there as a mentor to Felton, but could still be able to contribute on the defensive side of the ball. Felton was a big contributor in his first stint with the Knicks, and looks to do the same this time around.
Iman Shumpert likely will miss a good portion of the season after suffering a torn ACL and lateral meniscus in the playoffs. This means that either Brewer or JR Smith, who returns after signing a two-year deal this offseason, will battle for the starting shooting guard position that was held by Fields last season. Smith is much better off the bench, but he could end up taking the starting spot for as long as Shumpert is hurt. Brewer is also capable of starting, and is a much better on-the-ball defender than Smith is.
Carmelo Anthony returns as the main star of the team, but is coming off of his least productive season since his rookie year. With Lin gone, Melo will most likely get more looks, even though they didn't play together too often. He must use better judgement while shooting the ball, but after coming off of a huge performance in the Olympics, his confidence will hopefully be back. Steve Novak emerged as one of the best three-point shooters in the league last season, and after signing a four-year extension, will certainly be a big contributor once again off the bench.
Amar'e Stoudemire had his worst season since the 2005-06 season, where he missed all but three games with a serious knee injury. He just did not play with the same intensity that fans are used to seeing him play with. Adding Felton back to the roster could be what the doctor ordered. In his first stint with the Knicks, Felton had great chemistry with Stoudemire, and they were becoming an elite guard-forward duo. Since that trade, Stoudemire has struggled, but hopefully he will be a lot better this season.
Tyson Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, returns as the big man. His presence last year led the Knicks to being a much better team defensively, especially when Lin emerged, and even more so when Woodson took over as coach. His defensive domination under the basket, and continued development offensively, will both be key in helping the Knicks take that next step toward a championship.
With Jared Jeffries gone, Camby and Thomas both will rotate into the frontcourt. Camby won't contribute much as a scorer, but is still a consistent rebounder, defender and shot blocker at the age of 38. Thomas is just about the same player as Camby, only shorter and older.
Other players to look out for on the roster are rookie Chris Smith, JR's younger brother, Chris Copeland, a summer league product, James White, an athletic guard-forward who's bounced around between the NBA and overseas, and Pablo Prigioni, an NBA rookie point guard who spent 17 seasons playing in Spain and Argentina.
Overall, this Knicks squad is arguably much deeper than they've been this whole century. However, with teams like the dominant Miami Heat, the up-and-coming Indiana Pacers, the revitalized Brooklyn Nets and the stingy Chicago Bulls, the Knicks are still anything but guaranteed a shot at the NBA Finals. But, they certainly are not eliminated from consideration, at least on paper.
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