"GO NEW YORK! GO NEW YORK! GO!"
Fans of the New York Knicks have plenty to smile about these days.
It was a triumphant regular season for the Manhattan crew, one that saw the Knicks win 50 games for the first time since the 1999-00 season, boast the league's highest-scoring superstar (Carmelo Anthony, 28.7 points per game) and earn a No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
But just as Michael Jordan said in his book (h/t NBA.com) "there's no such thing as a perfect basketball player", there's no such thing as a perfect basketball team either. What's stopping the Knicks from winning 55 games? Or 60 games? How can these Atlantic Division champions get to the next level?
Let's dish out credit where credit's due, and also look at some guys who need to step their game up.
Advanced stats were obtained from Basketball-Reference.com.
It's official: We won the Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes.
Remember when NBA pundits and fans alike doubted whether a Carmelo Anthony blockbuster trade to NYC would trigger another Garden Party? We were all so silly back then.
Kirk Goldsberry does a great job quantifying Carmelo's statistical breakthroughs over at Grantland, but I'll keep it short and sweet right here: Carmelo is the best scoring wing in the game today.
The new topic of debate: Did Carmelo Anthony just have the Greatest Knicks Season Ever? Hmmm...
|Greatest Individual Knicks Seasons (stats per Basketball-Reference.com)|
|NBA Season||Points/Game||Field-Goal Pct.||Rebounds/Game||Win Shares*|
*Estimate of number of wins contributed by a single player.
Judging by the stats, there's one thing we can all agree on: Carmelo Anthony is a beast.
Earl Smith Jr., winner of the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year award, is about to get PAID.
Here's a quick look at the top swing guards in 2013 unrestricted free agency: O.J. Mayo (player option), Manu Ginobili, Devin Harris, Ben Gordon, Corey Maggette, J.R. Smith (player option).
Yuck. Let's face it: Other than Manu Ginobili (who's 35 and a mortal lock to re-sign with San Antonio), J.R. Smith is better than every one of these guys.
Honestly, J.R. Smith's biggest competition for cash...is J.R. Smith.
|J.R. Smith: Career Arc|
|Points/Game||Field Goal Pct.||3-Point FG Pct.|
|First 8 Seasons||12.5||42.7%||36.9%|
There's some serious food for thought here: If you're an NBA franchise, do you really believe that J.R. Smith is a rising star in the NBA? Or, is this the same guy who bolted for China during the lockout and loves every shot he takes?
Looking at this free-agent class, a bet on a 27-year-old J.R. is a gamble worth taking. Sadly, because of salary-cap woes and the new collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks may have to pass on re-signing their second-best scoring option.
Which is a shame. Especially since Amare's teenage knees aren't walking through that door.
Fellow B/R columnist Adam Fromal put it best: Tyson Chandler is the most self-aware player in the Association. This guy just knows how to play defense.
Tyson's influence on the defensive culture of the New York Knicks is obvious:
|Knicks Defense Under Tyson Chandler|
|Opp PPG (NBA Rank)||Defensive Rating|
|Pre-Tyson (2010-11)||105.7 (28th)||110.1 (22nd)|
|2011-12 (Year 1)||94.7 (11th)||101.0 (5th)|
|2012-13 (Year 2)||95.7 (7th)||106.3 (8th)|
Although skipping 16 of the last 20 games for the Orange & Blue most likely cost Chandler a second Defensive Player of the Year nod in a row, Tyson's impact is one of the major reasons New York was in great position to contend in the Eastern Conference.
Seemingly born with basketball intellect and unmatched guile, Jason Kidd continues to terrorize the Eastern Conference in the same way that he once terrified the Knicks in his prime.
Give J-Kidd his favorite big man in Kenyon Martin, cross the Hudson River, let him run the break and turn on your favorite OutKast song, and you might just confuse 2013 with 2003.
Jason Kidd plays the part of a savvy veteran with grace and aplomb, making more triples than ever (35 percent) and defending tough scorers with little more than old-man tactics.
He gets a C+ only because he's not nearly as fast as he used to be, but that's no knock on J-Kidd's effort and passion for the game.
He's a Hall of Famer twice-over, and will hang his Dallas/Phoenix/New Jersey/Dallas/New York jerseys in Springfield sooner rather than later.
I've been talking about Ray Ray's revival since Christmas and I'll say it again: Raymond Felton is a proven winner. From South Carolina high school to North Carolina and Coach Roy to his two go-rounds with the Knicks, Raymond Felton has always found success when given a chance to shine.
Ray gets the C++ computer programmer grade here because of a 30 percent three-point shooting stretch in February, most likely due to his bum thumb injury. Plus, Ray still hasn't answered questions that point to his subpar individual defense skills, and occasionally gets toasted by a quick Eastern guard.
Above all else, Ray does deserve credit for this: His inspired play quieted the LINSANITY! chorus.
No belt? Cmon son.
Since we've already talked about the good, bad and decent, let's get ugly.
|Amar'e Stoudemire: New York Knicks Career|
|Year 1||78||25.3||8.2||$16.4 mil|
|Year 2||47||17.5||7.8||$18.2 mil|
|Year 3||29||14.2||5.0||$19.9 mil|
Do you see that inverse proportion? AHHH!
Amar'e's getting paid more, but he's playing less and getting worse. Yikes. I wonder, if these vectors hold up, how Ama're will look in Year 4...
Amar'e Stoudemire (Year 4): 15 games, 10.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, $21.6 million???
A rich man's Patrick Patterson! (Cut to Knicks fans wiping tears from eyes.)
A quick roundup of the New York supporting cast:
Pablo Prigioni: C
Pablo, no one can steal an inbound pass quite like you can.
Iman Shumpert: D
Iman, your knee is fully healed. Can you jump around like House of Pain and defend dudes please?
Rasheed Wallace: C
SHEED! Your "Will He, Won't He!" injury return drama made me reminisce about 90210, Luke Perry be damned.
Chris Copeland: C+
Did you know that Cope shot the same percentage as Steve Novak from three (42 percent)? Crazy, right?
Kurt Thomas: F
Well, at least we'll always have our mid-range jumpers and Y2K memories.
Marcus Camby: D-
They should have never traded you for Antonio McDyess. Imagine how awesome you would have been if NBA insiders thought ABPRmetrics were cool in 2003!
Steve Novak: C-
Man, it must really be hard to do the "Discount Double Check" from the seated position.
Kenyon Martin: C+
James White: C-
Too bad David Stern and Co. asked you to the All-Star Weekend a few years too late. Oops.
Solomon Jones: F
Remember that time Solomon Jones started against Indiana and then was cut the next day? Weird.