Definitive Blueprint for a New York Knicks NBA Title
The New York Knicks are off to a quick 12-4 start and appear to be one of the few teams in the Eastern Conference that have a legitimate chance to win the NBA Title.
Mike Woodson has done an admirable job since being named the head coach, as he has crafted gameplans that focus on playing good defense and getting Carmelo Anthony the ball.
The Knicks are currently leading the Atlantic Division and are only a half-game behind the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat. While the Knicks trail the Heat in the standings, they have been more dominant in terms of win/loss differential.
According to ESPN.com, the Knicks have amassed a positive-8.2 point win/loss differential, which is the best mark in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat are the heavy favorites to win the Eastern Conference, although the Knicks are one of the few teams that could give them a tough series. In order to do so, the Knicks will have to continue to progress as a team while integrating a pair of injured but talented players into their rotation.
Play Better on the Road
The New York Knicks are off to a quick start—especially at home, where they have compiled an undefeated 7-0 record
Road games are a different story however, as the Knicks are just 5-4 away from Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have lost road contests to the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets. While none of those losses are egregious, the manner in which the Knicks lost those games is slightly alarming.
In those four losses, the Knicks surrendered an average of 111.5 points per game, although that number is skewed due to the 131 points scored by the Houston Rockets on November 23rd.
If the Knicks want to be taken seriously as a title contender, then they will need to make a handful of statement road wins.
It should be noted that the Knicks traveled to San Antonio and beat the Spurs by four.
The Knicks' other four road triumphs came against the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Hornets (without Anthony Davis) and Philadelphia 76ers. Out of those teams, only the Bucks and 76ers have a chance at competing for a playoff spot.
The Knicks will be presented with plenty of opportunities to prove that they are capable of playing well on the road, as clashes with the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets are on the horizon.
Continue to Play Carmelo Anthony at Power Forward
With Amar'e Stoudemire out due to injury, the New York Knicks were forced to start Carmelo Anthony at power forward.
Anthony has thrived at power forward because he has the size to defend the position and is too quick to be adequately guarded by opposing power forwards.
According to the advanced stats provided by Hoopdata.com, Anthony has compiled the 13th best PER in the NBA with a 22.9.
According to ESPN.com, Anthony is third in the league in scoring, as he has averaged 26.1 points per game thus far. It should not come as a surprise that Anthony is amongst the league leaders in scoring because he averages a league-high 19.3 attempts per game.
Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Josh Cohen made excellent points as to why Anthony and the Knicks would be better off keeping Anthony at power forward, as the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist clearly thrives at the position.
Improve on the Boards
The New York Knicks have struggled on the boards this season, as they currently rank 26th in the league in rebounds.
Part of the Knicks' rebuilding woes can be attributed to the absence of Amar'e Stoudemire, as they could certainly use the 7.8 rebounds per game that he averaged during the 2012 season.
According to Hoopdata.com, the Knicks rank 28th in Total Rebound Rate, which is a statistic that takes the rebounds of opponents into account as well. The only two teams that are ranked behind the Knicks are the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics, both of which have serious rebounding woes as well.
The Knicks top three rebounders are Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. Prior to this season, Smith averaged 2.9 rebounds per game over the course of his career. This season, Smith is hauling down an average of 5.1 boards per game, which speaks to the Knicks' weakness on the glass.
The rebounding woes are not specific to one side of the court, as the Knicks rank 27th in offensive and defensive rebounding.
If the Knicks are to have sustained success throughout the remainder of the season, then they must find a way to control the defensive glass more efficiently.
If opposing teams are able to secure second-chance opportunities on such a consistent basis, then the Knicks will find it difficult to beat quality opponents.
Get Amar'e Stoudemire Healthy and Integrated into the Rotation
The days in which Madison Square Garden chanted "MVP" for Amar'e Stoudemire are firmly in the past, as he has quickly fallen out of favor with the fanbase.
Stoudemire has been unable to play so far this season due to a left knee injury, although his presence has not hurt the team's record.
The Knicks are 12-4 in Stoudemire's absence and his return is now a conversation that creates concerns regarding the future of the team.
With Amar'e out, Carmelo Anthony has shifted to the power forward position and dominated the game from that position.
According to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, Stoudemire is at least a couple of weeks away from returning to the court. What is more surprising is that Stoudemire is reportedly willing to come off the bench if asked.
When Stoudemire does return, Mike Woodson needs to find a way to integrate him into the rotation in a way that helps the team.
Amar'e is among the most talented offensive big men in the league, so in a perfect world, his return would make the Knicks even more dangerous.
Improve on Defense
The New York Knicks have played solid interior defense and that will continue to be the case as long as Tyson Chandler is around to protect the rim.
According to Hoopsdata.com, the Knicks are ranked 10th in Opponents Points Scored, which would put them in the league's top third. While points allowed is all that matters, there are statistics that suggest that the Knicks defense struggles in certain areas.
The Knicks have been able to overcome their poor perimeter defense due to strong interior defense and a highly-productive offense, but they cannot continue to rely on their offense so heavily, especially on the road.
Based upon the numbers provided by Hoopsdata.com, the Knicks are ranked 29th in Opposing Three Point Percentage as they have allowed opposing teams to shoot 39.3 percent from behind the arc.
Another statistic supplied by Hoopsdata.com shows that the opposition's true shooting percentage is 54.1 percent, which has the Knicks ranked 23rd in the league.
The Knicks have the third-best scoring defense in terms of scoring per 48 minutes, as their slower pace gives opponents fewer possessions and scoring opportunities.
Asking the Knicks to improve on defense may be a tall task, but that is what it would take for them to win an NBA Championship.