The New York Knicks are going be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season! No, I am just kidding, but I am sure some fans are thinking that. The start to the 2012-13 season for the Knickerbockers has been extremely impressive. New York has three-straight wins by 16 points or more, en route to a 3-0 record. But what does the quick start really mean?
The Knicks have been slowly making progress since a few years back when Donnie Walsh took over as General Manager to fix Isaiah Thomas’ mess. The Amar’e Stoudemire signing put them back on the map, and the Carmelo Anthony trade made them a legitimate title contender.
This past offseason was a good one, as the Knicks added Jason Kidd and brought back returning players in Marcus Camby and Raymond Felton. The Knicks now have quality players throughout their roster and a much deeper bench then they did a year ago. The only issue I see is health and age. So far this season, Stoudemire, Camby, and Iman Shumpert have missed games. In terms of age, they have a lot of older veterans that could wear down as the season goes a long. It will be imperative that Mike Woodson does a good job limiting their minutes during the season, this way they will be fresh come playoff time.
The Knicks will be a good team as long as Melo plays at a high level. They also need their defense to continue to suffocate opponents as it has thus far. If both of these things happen, they will be a good team regardless of Stoudemire’s health. However, if they want to be an elite team, and compete for a title, they need Stoudemire to be on the court.
The answer to which seed the Knicks will have at seasons end is two fold, and it begins and ends with Stoudemire. If he returns in two months from injury and is effective, I could see them seriously contending for the Atlantic Division crown and ending with a two or three seed in the East. If he comes back and is not the same player, and/or gets hurt again, I see Boston winning the division, with the Knicks getting the fourth seed.
The Eastern Conference is not very top heavy this season aside from Miami. Orlando lost Dwight Howard, Chicago may not get Derrick Rose back this season, and Boston is still good, but with an aging core of players.
The Knicks can and will contend for a top four seed in the Eastern Conference this season. If they stay healthy, it's not a matter of if they will be good, it's a matter of if they will be an elite team or not.