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New York Knicks: Despite Stellar Start, Stoudemire and Shumpert Will Be Key

Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith have led the Knicks to their best start in 19 years
Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith have led the Knicks to their best start in 19 yearsElsa/Getty Images
Brandon MaukContributor IIINovember 14, 2012

This latest edition of James Dolan's New York Knickerbockers really reminds you of the last team in the franchise's history that started 5-0.

After knocking off the Orlando Magic on Monday night they are now enjoying their best start since that magical 1993-1994 season that ended one win shy of the NBA Championship. 

They are also the only undefeated team left in the NBA, and they didn't beat any cream puffs, knocking off the defending world champions, a playoff team in Philadelphia twice, and a Mavericks team that is doing fine enough without Dirk Nowitzki. 

New York is second to only Miami in points scored per game and second to none in the NBA in per-game points allowed. ESPN's John Hollinger's metrics say the same thing. 

The key to the Knicks' success has been the play of Carmelo Anthony (leading the NBA in scoring), outstanding man to man and team defense, and three-point shooting, which is the second best in the NBA. They also force a ton of turnovers without turning it over themselves. 

J.R. Smith has played outstanding, averaging 18.2 PPG on .493 percent from the field and shooting 72.2 percent from three. He has three games of over 20 points and also improved on defense.

Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton have played very well as the starting backcourt, with each taking turns in handling the ball and playing excellent defense on their men

The defense has been absolutely outstanding without Iman Shumpert, considered their best perimeter. Former Bull Ronnie Brewer has filled in well for him

The Knicks with face a litmus test this week: two back-to-back road games in San Antonio and Memphis and a Sunday matinee at the Garden against the Pacers. Later this month they will face Anthony Davis and the Hornets, the Mavs in Dallas and the rescheduled grudge match in Brooklyn.

 

As good as the Knicks have been to start the year, there's a good chance that they may struggle against these teams, as they feature all-star and superstar big men in Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert and of course the great Tim Duncan. 

The Knicks inside game has been relatively absent. Coach Mike Woodson has been going to Rasheed Wallace, fresh out of retirement, but he has settled to shooting threes. Tyson Chandler is obviously limited on offense but should continue to get his attempts as long as he's healthy (had the flu in the second game of the season that limited him to 21 minutes). Marcus Camby has yet to play a role yet

The biggest problem for the Knicks is their rebounding, which is currently the second worst in the NBA. One man who can help with their inside offense and rebounding is already on the team: Amar'e Stoudemire. 

Unfortunately, it looks as if Stoudemire is going to miss at least four more weeks and it will take a while for the Knicks to adjust him back into the rotation. They should start by having come off the bench as soon as he comes back and work him back into the starting lineup. A healthy Amar'e makes the Knicks a much more dangerous team in the postseason. 

When everyone is healthy, the Knicks roster will look like this:

Starters:

PG Raymond Felton

SG Iman Shumpert

SF Carmelo Anthony

PF Amar'e Stoudemire

C Tyson Chandler

Bench:

PG Jason Kidd

PG Pablo Prigioni

SG J.R. Smith

SG Ronnie Brewer

SF Steve Novak

PF Rasheed Wallace

PF Kurt Thomas

C Marcus Camby

Tell me how good this team is. The bench is loaded with guys who can shoot, pass, and/or play solid defense and rebounding.

They will need everyone healthy to have a chance of beating Miami in the playoffs. Miami has zero solid big men, so sizing up on them with Stoudemire, Chandler, and Camby and Wallace behind them will give the Knicks a big advantage on them, and any team for that matter.

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