4 Reasons New York Knicks Will Be Better in 2012-13
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The New York Knicks entered last season with sky-high, yet unrealistic expectations. Although multiple experts predicted the Knicks as a likely candidate to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, the reality was that this team's trio of superstars shielded onlookers from immense deficiencies.
Not only did the Knicks not possess a coach willing to tailor his style of play to his personnel, but there was a revolving door at the point guard position, along with serious depth issues in the front court.
However, not even the Knicks' most rigorous detractors anticipated this squad squirming into the postseason as a seven seed. After posting a record of 36-30, it's more than fair to say this team underperformed a season ago.
That all said, the Knicks have nowhere to go but up in the 2012-13 season. With a full training camp under head coach Mike Woodson to work out the kinks, the added depth and the newfound stability at point guard, this already potent roster should be able to live up to the expectations bestowed upon them last offseason.
Let's take a look at four specific reasons why the New York Knicks will improve in 2012-13.
New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton with Amare Stoudemire.
The New York Knicks do not need a superstar point guard in order to contend in the east. With Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and JR Smith all projected to start, the last thing this team needs is another guy looking to put up shots. Raymond Felton is not only a player who understands his role within the offense, but he makes the guys around him better with his excellent court vision.
Last season, the failed Baron Davis experiment, coupled with Jeremy Lin's injury, left the Knicks with serious questions at point guard for the majority of the year. With that, the offense quickly transformed into a stagnant, isolation based free-for-all that resulted in abhorrent ball movement leading to low-percentage shots.
Although Raymond Felton will not be the savior to all the Knicks offensive woes, he could certainly help facilitate a more free-flowing, yet structured style of play that does more than just give the ball to Carmelo Anthony while the rest of the team gets ready to rebound.
For example, check out the video above. This is just a basic pick-and-role with Felton and Stoudemire. While it seems simple, this was an aspect of the Knicks offense that was absent for the majority of the 2011-12 campaign.
Amar'e thrives off this play, and Felton's return could provide a new aspect to the Knicks offense that we didn't see last year.
New York Knicks' Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby.
Matt Strasen-US PRESSWIRE
Although the Knicks struck out in the Steve Nash sweepstakes this offseason, the free agent acquisitions of Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby are going to be welcome additions to a squad that showcased Jared Jeffries, Mike Bibby and Baron Davis off the bench a year ago.
With this newfound veteran depth, the team will no longer burden its star players with excessive minutes night in and night out.
While Jason Kidd may turn out to be just an upgraded version of Mike Bibby, his ability to space the floor will make it easier for the Knicks offense to operate. Furthermore, Kidd's ability to grab more rebounds than his skill-set would dictate will be extremely beneficial to a team that struggled in rebounding a year ago.
Staying with that theme, Marcus Camby will allow Mike Woodson to take Tyson Chandler out of the game, while not having to worry about getting completely dominated on the boards. When Chandler was out of the game last season, the team's biggest rebounding threats were Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Neither of those players have ever been known for their ability to crash the boards.
New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire.
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Needless to say, Amar'e Stoudemire suffered through a tumultuous 2011-12 campaign. Not only did the $18 million dollar a year superstar see a statistical drop off in nearly every aspect of his game, but lingering knee and back issues gave fans pause about whether the "real" STAT would ever return to form.
Perhaps the most encouraging facet of Amar'e's 2011-12 season was that, despite the media backlash and public perceptions of him, the 10-year NBA veteran was actually relatively productive.
STAT averaged 17.9 points per game, while pulling down almost eight rebounds each contest. Obviously, these numbers are a far cry from the Amar'e Stoudemire fans were expecting to see. However, it's not like the guy was nowhere to be found, either.
With that, Amar'e has only ever thrived in systems that possess a viable point guard. In Phoenix, STAT had Steve Nash, and then Raymond Felton after signing in New York. However, last season, the Mike Bibby-Baron Davis-Jeremy Lin combination did not allow Amar'e to run the pick-and-role, nor did it help facilitate any ball movement within the offense.
Furthermore, Amar'e was never able to get into any rhythm, which contributed to the disappearance of his 12-15 foot jump shot. If he can add that element back into his game, the Knicks offense will see a significant increase in the space in which they have to operate.
With Mike Woodson returning, a full training camp to get acquainted with Carmelo Anthony and the return of Raymond Felton, Amar'e Stoudemire will have every opportunity to succeed this upcoming season.
With Carmelo Anthony on the roster, Amar'e is not going to put up the numbers that we are accustomed to seeing from him. However, that does not preclude him from being an essential aspect of the Knicks offense. If we see even a slight improvement in Amar'e this season, it could go a long way for the Knicks success in 2012-13.
New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson with Carmelo Anthony.
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The Knicks performance after Mike Woodson took over as head coach was pretty self explanatory. After stumbling to an 18-24 mark under Mike D'Antoni, Mike Woodson transformed this roster into a productive offensive machine, while improving the overall defense as well. The team went 18-6 in their final 24 games, and secured a playoff berth.
As the Knicks enter the upcoming season, fans should be excited about what Woodson can do with this roster. With a formidable defense, viable point guard, increased continuity and a full training camp, this team is in position to do some serious damage in the East.
No, they are not at the level of the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics—yet. But for a squad that has been mediocre for the majority of the last decade, the 2012-13 season should finally see a competitive team in "The World's Most Famous Arena."