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New York Knicks Must Rely on More Than Just Veteran Experience to Contend

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New York Knicks Must Rely on More Than Just Veteran Experience to Contend
Harry How/Getty Images
At 40 years of age, Kurt Thomas will be the oldest on an aging crew of New York Knicks in 2012-13.

Just in case you weren't paying attention over the summer, the New York Knicks went through a few personnel changes. 

The pundits can debate whether or not the team is better or worse. What is not up for debate is whether or not the team is older or younger. 

The Knicks are officially "old." 

In fact, according to a recent report in USA Today, STATS Inc. has determined the Knicks to be the oldest team in NBA History.

Can age truly equal beauty?

The depth of experience on the Knicks is impressive. They've got scoring, defense, playmaking, even championship experience in the form of Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd. Of course, they didn't win their rings in New York, and that's probably a big part of why they're now playing in the Big Apple. 

All that experience will be a big plus for the Knicks. More experienced players tend to understand the value of defense. They also have experience adapting to new teams. Most NBA players don't spend their whole careers in one city, playing for one team, with one coaching philosophy. 

The experience will help. That doesn't mean it is as simple as just adding a bunch of seasoned veterans and, voila! Instant title. 

First of all, players get injured, being old doesn't assure one of injuries, nor does being young ensure a player of constant health. Older players do get injured more frequently, and they also can take a longer amount of time to recover from injuries. 

Marcus Camby was dominant on defense in the 1999 playoffs, but he was also 13 years younger.

Barely a week into the preseason, and already Marcus Camby has his first injury. Camby has played 16 seasons in the NBA, and not once has he played in all 82 games. Don't expect this minor preseason injury to be the last one that Camby endures all season. 

The other thing about the experienced veterans is that, usually, NBA Champions have a mix. Some age and experience, and some youth and energy.

That's not to say the Knicks lack those things. New York does have some youth and energy—J.R. Smith is as fine an athlete as anyone in the NBA.

Second-year player Iman Shumpert is not only an exceptional athlete, he's also a multi-faceted player who has was one of 2011-12's finest defensive rookies.

Raymond Felton, at age 28, is not young by NBA standards, but he's not old either. Felton openly admitted to playing last season in less than optimal physical condition.

It was only one season though, and Felton is young enough to regain the physical condition that made him a consistently solid point guard for most of his eight-year career.

Then there's Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is not old, but he's no longer young either. What he is, is an experienced player who is one of the league's most unstoppable scorers, and he's in his prime right now. 

The Knicks are going to benefit from their experience this coming season. Having players such as Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and Camby will all help in terms of consistency and leadership.

They've also got players like Kurt Thomas (40 years old) and recently signed Rasheed Wallace (38 years old) who will play lesser roles, but still provide insight and experience.

The experience is important, the further development of players such as Shumpert, Smith, and 27-year-old Ronnie Brewer, who is currently recovering from knee surgery is critical as well. 

There's almost a yin-and-yang dynamic at work here. The younger players can learn from the older guys. The older ones can hopefully benefit from the younger players' superior athleticism, energy, and hopefully durability.

In the end, the key to the team's success is not just the age and experience of the veterans. Those players who are in their primes, or youth, must step-up and contribute.

If they don't, all those games and minutes that guys such as Kidd, Thomas, Camby and Wallace have logged won't yield results that much better than the one-and-done playoff trips of the past two seasons.

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