Jeremy who? The Knicks have moved on from the chaos that was last season and are setting their eyes on a successful start to this year. They added tons of veterans to the team, much like the Heat are doing in Miami. The question is, will all the pieces fit this time?
The word of the year for last season was inconsistent. This year they will need things to move along more smoothly in order to make another run towards an NBA Championship. They have all the pieces, but let's figure out the five things that need to happen in order to make all those pieces fit.
Step 1: Amare Stoudemire Stays Healthy
One of the major issues last season was that the Knicks couldn’t build chemistry between their two superstars—because they were never on the floor at the same time! Stoudemire played in a career low 47 games last year, dealing with issues mainly in his knees and back.
In order for the Knicks to be the team every New York fan thinks they can be, STAT has to be on the floor. He is only 29 years old, so I don’t want to hear that "he can’t stay healthy because he’s old" stuff from anyone. All the people that think that the Knicks are a better team without Stoudemire are just fooling themselves.
Step 2: Everyone Commits to Defense
Now this step will be harder than the first one. The Knicks all need to commit to defense the way their All-Star center Tyson Chandler did last year; just in case you didn’t hear, Chandler was the Defensive Player of the Year. If the Knicks came out with his intensity on defense every game, they would be a much better team. Their first full season under Mike Woodson should help too. Woodson is known for being a more defensive-minded coach and will try to build on that for next year. The Knicks were 24-18 under Woodson last season.
Step 3: The Felton/Kidd Combo Has to Work at PG
One of the main keys to this team will be replacing Jeremy Lin. Whether or not you liked him, Lin ran this team effectively and they were a better team when he played. New York traded for Raymond Felton in the offseason, who has gotten kind of a bad rap the last few years. He had arguably his best season in New York before being dealt in the Melo trade.
The Knicks also signed veteran Jason Kidd, who has seen better days. Until Iman Shumpert returns though, you have to imagine that Kidd will be the backup point guard, if not the starter in some cases. It's going to be hard to adjust to their two style, as Felton is an uptempo guard while Kidd likes to slow the ball down and work more of a half court game. I think this is one of the keys people don’t really look at.
Step 4: Carmelo has to be Carmelo
Melo has seen way too much criticism since he has come to New York, and honestly, I don’t understand why. The guy carried this team to the playoffs last year (with a little help from Jeremy Lin). Injuries bogged him down, but he continued to fight though and play.
Say what you want about him, but he is probably one of the best, if not the best, scorer in the game. He is also one of the most clutch players in the league. In order for the Knicks to make a run, he has to stay healthy and just play his game. Also, just like I said about Stoudemire, if you think this team is better without Anthony, you’re out of your mind. He is easily a top 10 player in the NBA.
Step 5: Bench Veterans Need to Step Up
The Knicks signed a number of veterans to come off the bench this year and get some quality minutes. It was ridiculous how many minutes guys like Anthony and Lin played last season. They signed several players, including: Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, J.R. Smith (re-signed), Jason Kidd and Ronnie Brewer.
While Brewer will battle with Smith to start at shooting guard, the rest are going to play key roles off the bench. The Knicks seriously lacked depth in the frontcourt last year and I’m not sure if aged versions of Thomas and Camby are the answer. I think both have a little left in the tank, but NY is going to need a little more than a little from both of them. Everyone off the bench is going to have to contribute for the Knicks to be successful.
So, these are my keys for the Knicks to have a good year. I think if they find a way to make these five things happen, they could make a deeper playoff run.
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