NY Knicks Have Legitimate Chance to Win a Title This Season
They don't just have one of the best scorers in the game right now, but they have all the pieces that complement his talent around him.
Everyone is contributing.
The starting rotation, the bench, head Coach Mike Woodson and even the training staff are giving it 110 percent.
Because of this, the New York Knicks are one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference, and they have the potential to be one of the best in the league.
All NBA statistics are current as of December 8, 2012.
Hoopsstats.com lists the Washington Wizards as the No.1 bench, but I can't agree with that...that'll be up for debate later in the season.
What I will do is suggest that the bench numbers are deceiving.
In 18 games, New York's bench has averaged 19.9 minutes a game, and in that time the mix of players ranging from J.R. Smith to Steve Novak have provided the Knicks with just under 37 points per game.
The key here is that the bench has a variety of players that Coach Woodson can turn to and count on to provide quality minutes and sufficient scoring—when the team isn't in a drought.
Quality role players like Pablo Prigioni and Jason Kidd manning point guard duties behind Raymond Felton—when the whole roster is healthy—is a great tandem to go to. Both guards can make that pass to the open man or create the opportunities for their team.
You can't ask for more than that from them, but if you need them to give you some scoring, they can do that, too!
J.R. Smith—although in a bit of a slump—is a scoring machine from the pine that would be a starter on most teams.
Steve Novak has a cannon from behind the arc, and Rasheed Wallace brings that defensive tenacity that other teams don't have available as bench players.
This bench is a strength that New York has built over the last year or so, and it's what will separate them for the rest of the pact in the near future.
The veteran leadership that this Knicks team possesses is second to none.
We constantly talk about how the age of this team—being the oldest in the league—will hurt them, but we fail to realize that the veterans on this team know what it takes to win.
Jason Kidd won a title in Dallas, where he paired up with Tyson Chandler.
Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby have been in the league for a combined 33 years—they come from that era of hard-nosed basketball that we really haven't seen in many years.
Rasheed Wallace, the NBA's all-time leader in technical fouls in a single season, has that take "nothing from anybody" mentality, and New York needed that for their identity.
Al Iannazzone of Newsday had two great quotes in one of his articles on the Knicks' age being viewed as "veteran leadership."
"The guys that we do have, they bring veteran leadership," Chandler said. "And they bring a calmness around the team that we didn't have before. It's only going to benefit us. In order to win in this league you really need veterans."
"It's veteran teams that are winning titles," Woodson said.
The Knicks have a similar build to those teams mentioned, and that's why there's a good chance they win it all this year.
Defense Wins Championships
Coach Mike Woodson has preached defense since his first day with New York as the defensive coach—and that's clearly paid off for him, from what he's done to this Knicks team.
Tyson Chandler gets some credit too!
He gave the franchise a defensive identity when he was brought over after winning that championship with the Dallas Mavericks, and I think he's rubbed off on the team a bit.
All the players on the Knicks are starting to see what defense can do for them, and that's why the team has transformed into one that only allows 94.7 points per game to the opposition.
Carmelo Anthony is playing great defense, and that's how you know this team means business!
The cliche has been around forever..."Defense wins championships."
Don't believe me?
Just go to Google and type in the phrase and watch as nearly two million results are returned.
That 2003-04 Pistons team was built on defense—the same team that passed on Carmelo Anthony—and both Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace were the anchors on that side of the ball here.
Easier to see why Rasheed was brought to New York?
Even if he's not that player from 2003, he can still intimidate and provide six hard fouls, while scoring when needed.
Maybe the cliche will be replaced by "ball don't lie" if New York manages to bring the Larry O'Brien trophy to Madison Square Garden.
They're the Best in the East...without 2 Core Pieces
New York is still missing guard Iman Shumpert and forward Amar'e Stoudemire, yet the team is still playing great basketball.
Iman adds another defensive body to the rotation, and Amar'e provides more scoring.
Yes, the question is still whether or not Amar'e will disrupt the chemistry, but if Ian Begley's sources are correct and Amar'e is concerned about "helping the team and winning," then fans shouldn't be worried.
In the November 29 article, the ESPNNewYork.com writer claimed that Amar'e would welcome the sixth man role.
A source close to Stoudemire who has visited with the veteran power forward recently said Stoudemire wants to help the Knicks, who were 9-4 entering play Wednesday, and doesn't want to affect any chemistry the team has established.
"He just wants to win," the source says. "He sees how well they're playing and just wants to help. He'll be fine with whatever they want to do."
Obviously, Shumpert would slide into the starting 2-guard spot, while Amar'e would be the first to come off the bench.
A starting rotation of Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Ronnie Brewer, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler is formidable.
The next set of guys would include Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, Amar'e Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace—a lineup that could probably beat most NBA teams, some of which with ease.
Coach Woodson is a smart guy, especially with this New York team.
I expect he will put Stoudemire in the sixth man role, and if New York is having trouble they'll make the proper adjustments.
Whatever the case, the return of both these guys enhances the chances of New York winning it all.
Carmelo Anthony Is Determined
Carmelo Anthony is playing his best basketball now, and he's got the look in his eyes of a winner.
He's third in the league in scoring with 26.4 points per game; however, he's the leading scorer in the Eastern Conference.
Melo is looking more like a well-rounded athlete this year—diving into stands, playing hard defense, driving to the basket and finding his teammates—similar to the transition LeBron James made last year after being with the Miami Heat for a full year.
Anthony has put his ego on the back burner, and he's doing what it takes to help this Knicks team win basketball games.
The Carmelo Anthony we're seeing is unlike the one we've come to expect.
This guy knows that his best chance at getting a ring is with the team surrounding him.
Furthermore, he knows that this is New York's year.