The New York Knicks enter the 2012-13 season with some lofty expectations.
With superstars like Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler leading the way, most people feel the Knicks should be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to get on the same page yet. Since Anthony and Stoudemire came to New York, the Knicks have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round both seasons and have only won one playoff game in the process.
That is all set to change this season with the improvement of some of the Knicks current players and the addition of others.
Here are seven reasons why the New York Knicks will exceed expectations this coming season.
The Knicks took a major hit when Iman Shumpert went down with a torn ACL during the playoffs last season. Shumpert is by far the team’s best perimeter defender, averaging 1.7 steals per game as a rookie.
With the injury coming so late in the season, there is no chance Shumpert would be ready for the opening game. Sources close to the team, like Al Iannazzone, Knicks writer for New York Newsday, are reporting that Shumpert’s rehab is ahead of schedule, but that should still keep him out until at least January.
In order to make up for this defensive loss, the Knicks went out and signed another great perimeter defender, Ronnie Brewer.
Brewer is a 6’7” guard and has the experience to step into the starting lineup right away. This will also allow J.R. Smith to remain as the team’s sixth man, which is the role he is accustomed to playing.
The shooting guard position could have been a weak spot for the Knicks this season with Shumpert out and Smith needing to step into the starting role, but the addition of Brewer keeps things in order for the NYK.
Aside from the DWI Jason Kidd was recently charged with, Kidd has always been known as a great mentor for young players.
One of his biggest advocates who can prove this was his backup point guard in Dallas, Jason Terry. Terry had these words to say about Kidd and his leadership ability while he was a member of the Mavericks.
"It's all about our leader, Jason Kidd. The way he plays the game, the way he has always played the game rubs off."
He also went on to praise the way that Kidd was extremely unselfish and always looked to make the extra pass.
Kidd originally came to New York to mentor Jeremy Lin, but with Lin's departure, he will turn his attention to helping out young guards Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
These three players should all have much more productive futures after learning from Kidd who has been to the playoffs 16 times during his career.
The Knicks completely turned their season around last year when Mike Woodson took over for Mike D’Antoni as head coach.
With D’Antoni, the team had a record of only 18-24. They were third in the Atlantic Division and on the brink of missing the playoffs.
Once Woodson became head coach, the Knicks won eight out of their next nine games and finished the season with an 18-6 record. Woodson turned the Knicks into one of the best defensive teams in the NBA without even having time to fully implement his strategies.
With a full training camp as head coach to teach the team exactly how he wants them to play, the Knicks should only improve on their stellar play under Woodson last season.
The Knicks lacked any real defensive presence off the bench last season. Once Tyson Chandler subbed out of the game; all hopes of defending the paint were lost.
This season, however, they will have Marcus Camby to man the middle while Chandler is sitting on the bench.
At 38 years old, Camby won’t be scoring in double figures like he was earlier in his career, but he can still be a solid defender and rebounder. Even last season, when he played his least amount of minutes per game since the 2002-03 season, he still averaged 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
If Camby can put up just half of those numbers as a Knick, he will already be better than any big man the Knicks brought off the bench last year.
Coming off of his Defensive Player of the Year season, Tyson Chandler was supposed to be a dominant defensive presence for Team USA during the Olympics.
Instead, he was a no-show for the entirety of the tournament.
Even though Chandler started in all eight games in London, he was third to last on the team in minutes played with only 11.3 per game. He also was fifth on the team in rebounds and sixth on the team in combined blocks and steals.
Chandler should be out for vengeance when he tries to earn his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award. He may have embarrassed himself during the Olympics, but there is no chance he plays that poorly again once the season opens in 2012.
The biggest reason Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have struggled to play together is because they both like to catch the ball at the high-post area.
To fix this issue, Amar’e Stoudemire worked all summer on improving his low-post game. He focused on catching the ball with his back to the basket and developing some post moves to help him score from closer to the hoop.
To help him with the transformation of his game, coach Woodson called in Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon for guidance. The two worked together for a few weeks this summer and both appear happy with the results.
Olajuwon said, “You won’t believe it. It’s night and day. His spin move is becoming so sharp and crisp. He could spin all day. He loves it.”
Stoudemire was also pleased with his progress, telling the New York Times he will have “an incredible year.”
If Stoudemire and Anthony can both dominate on the floor together, the Knicks will become extremely difficult to guard.
Carmelo Anthony was virtually unguardable during the Olympics.
Even though he didn’t start a single game in London, he was second on the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game. He certainly took advantage of the shorter three-point line, connecting on 50 percent of his attempts from long distance.
Against Nigeria, Anthony put on one of the most impressive performances in basketball history. In only 14 and a half minutes, Anthony scored a Team USA-record 37 points on only 16 shots. Melo was shooting the lights out this game, hitting 10-of-12 threes and 3-of-4 shots from inside the arc.
Melo will build off of his stellar Olympic play once the season starts up again. After the 2008 Olympics in which Team USA brought home the gold, Anthony led the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Championship. This was the only time in his career that he got past the first round of the playoffs.
If history repeats itself, the Knicks should advance deep into the playoffs for the first time since 2000.