For the New York Knicks to have any success during the 2012-13 season, they must improve their team chemistry.
Last season, it was difficult for the team to get on the same page since there were so many new additions to the roster.
Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis and Mike Bibby signed with the team during the offseason, Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson were added during the draft, J.R. Smith signed mid-season and Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak were claimed off of waivers.
There was also a shortened season with no training camp and very few days off, so the players didn’t really have time during the season to gel together.
Now that things are back to normal, the Knicks must build some team chemistry before the season begins in November.
Here are seven things the Knicks must do in order to ensure cohesive team chemistry.
Jason Kidd is 39 years old and has been in the league for 18 seasons.
Iman Shumpert was only 4 years old when Kidd made his NBA debut back in 1994.
Kidd has a ton of wisdom and experience he can offer his younger teammates. He knows how to act on and off the court, even with his lapse in judgment during his recent DWI.
He knows what it takes to win a championship and has experienced everything the NBA has to offer.
If he shares his immense knowledge with his new Knicks teammates and acts like an assistant coach on the squad, the Knicks are sure to build team chemistry quickly.
J.R. Smith has tremendous talent, but also has a history of being a troublemaker.
J.R. Smith needs to control himself and not be a distraction to his teammates. He is a very important piece of this team and his stellar play could be the difference between a good season and a great season.
If he can’t handle that though, he may bring the Knicks down with him.
Raymond Felton must be the floor general if he is going to start at point guard.
He’s primarily been a shoot first, pass second type of player, but that will need to change next season. There are too many talented scorers around him in New York for him to do that.
Felton will be the man responsible for keeping his teammates happy on the court—mainly Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
If he can keep up the ball distribution and at least match his career high in assists next season, 8.3 assists per game, the team will be energized and committed to working as a team.
Even though the Knicks went 18-6 under Mike Woodson in 2012, he really didn’t have time to implement his game plan and teach the Knicks how he wanted them to play.
Now he does, so there will be no excuse for the team not to improve from last year.
Woodson has always been known as a defensive minded coach. He needs to sell Melo and STAT on the importance of team defense and get them to give a much better effort on that end of the floor.
He also needs to hand out specific roles on offense to improve floor spacing. It appears he is already doing this since he encouraged Stoudemire to improve his low-post game this summer, a role STAT is not accustomed to playing.
Once training camp begins, it is Woodson’s job to make sure his team is on the same page and his superstars are leading by example. If he can do this, the Knicks will be in great shape to begin the season on November 1 in Brooklyn.
Tyson Chandler came to New York and completely changed the team’s attitude and mindset on the defensive end.
Chandler is a very vocal leader. He is always directing his teammates and giving advice for how he thinks they need to play.
He is also always giving 110 percent effort and leading his team by example. There is never a play that Chandler takes off. His teammates thrive off of the consistency from their big man.
When asked last season about Chandler’s leadership ability by Newsday, Carmelo Anthony had this to say.
“Tyson has been very consistent for us. He's our anchor in the hole.”
As everyone already knows, Amar’e Stoudemire lost his cool during the playoffs last season against the Miami Heat.
Yes, the Knicks were already down 0-2 at the time, but they were heading back to New York and could have put the pressure back on the Heat with a win in Game 3.
Instead, Stoudemire took himself out of the game with a hand injury that he caused by punching a fire extinguisher in the locker room after Game 2.
This behavior is completely unacceptable, especially from a superstar who the team leans on. Stoudemire cannot be doing things like this if he wants to be a leader on this team.
If Stoudemire kept his composure and got back to work instead of overreacting like he did, the Knicks may have been able to rally around the home crowd and extend this series longer than they did.
Carmelo Anthony is by far the team’s best scorer. Everybody knows this.
Unfortunately, this sometimes gets him into trouble. Melo often tries to take on double teams and score no matter who’s in front of him—even if the best play for the team would be to pass the ball off to someone else.
I’m not one of those people who feel Anthony is a selfish player, but I do think he sometimes tries to bite off more than he can chew.
We all know Anthony is capable of going on a hot streak and scoring at will. When his shot is falling, there is nobody in the league that can guard him.
If he can better decipher when he should be attacking every play and when he should be looking to find his teammates, the Knicks will be nearly impossible to defend in 2012-13.