New York had a busy offseason and has added or retained several pieces that the Knicks feel will push them closer to a championship.
The Knicks retained Pablo Prigioni, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith, and they signed Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih. The team also traded for Andrea Bargnani and drafted Tim Hardaway Jr.
These additions will help fill out Mike Woodson’s rotation, which also includes Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. New York should have a deep rotation capable of leading the team to the playoffs.
Woodson will need to determine how to balance his rotation that consists of no less than six options at guard and five in the frontcourt. Woody has only guaranteed starting spots to Chandler, Felton and ‘Melo, which leaves players like Smith, Shumpert and Bargnani competing for a starting job.
While the rotation is not yet finalized, the Knicks are likely to put up more points this season with some of their additions like Bargnani set to make an impact on offense. Bargnani has averaged 15.2 points per game throughout his career and will look to make his presence felt on the offensive end this season.
New York finished last season with 100.0 points per game, which was ranked 11th in the league. However, Bargnani’s presence will likely increase that number, especially if he plays alongside ‘Melo.
With the roster just about set, let’s take a look at what to expect from the Knicks this season.
First off, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein ranked the Knicks as the No. 11 team in the league and the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference behind Miami, Indiana, Brooklyn and Chicago (in that order) in his preseason power rankings:
Who thinks they're going to win 54 games again? Not I. The top half of the East is significantly more competitive, which means that the Knicks better get something out of Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani -- as well as Metta World Peace and a full-strength Iman Shumpert -- to keep up.
New York certainly has the potential to be better than the No. 5 seed in the East, as it has a much deeper squad this season. The Knicks’ depth, especially in the frontcourt, should help give players like Chandler some more rest throughout the season.
The Knicks will have plenty of opportunities to prove they are capable of competing on the big stage, as the Knicks have several prime-time games scheduled throughout the season, via knicks101.com:
Schedule-makers certainly made it appear as if they want the Knicks to play on the biggest stage as often as possible, as the team will play 24 primetime games during the season. These games will be aired on either ABC, ESPN or TNT. Counting games on NBATV, the Knicks will have 33 primetime matchups.
The Knicks will have 15 games against teams projected to finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference. They will play the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets four times each and will play Indiana three times.
How the Knicks do against these teams could shape their season. If New York can win even half of these games, it will likely be in good shape in terms of its in-conference record.
However, the Knicks should be able to do better than split these games, as New York played teams like Miami well. In their four contests last season, New York won three of the four games by a combined 52 points, which should give the team confidence moving forward.
The Knicks will also play four games each against some teams expected to finish toward the bottom of the standings, including the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks.
Once New York gets to the playoffs, how far it advances will depend on how healthy key players like Chandler and ‘Melo are at the time.
Chandler battled a neck injury and a rough bout with the flu in during the playoffs, which may have impacted his play. Keeping Chandler healthy for the playoffs is key for New York, via turnontheknicks.com:
It will be very important for the Knicks to keep Chandler fresh for the 2014 playoffs where they will likely have to play the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls or Indiana Pacers who all have formidable front lines.
The addition of Bargnani and the retention of Martin will certainly help keep Chandler fresh this season. However, the Knicks will also likely have either Cole Aldrich or Ike Diogu on the roster when the season begins as well.
Both are true centers with better size and rebounding skills than Bargnani and Martin, who are both better suited for the power forward position.
The Knicks need to improve their rebounding skills if the team wants to take the next step this season. Last year, New York ranked 26th in the league in rebounds per game and 18th in rebounds-per-game differential with a mark of minus-one, via ESPN.com.
However, neither of the four alternatives are as efficient offensively as Chandler. Woodson will have to make sure to put them in the game when they will be surrounded with offensive threats such as Smith and ‘Melo.
If Amar’e Stoudemire can contribute at any point this season, he will also play a factor in keeping Chandler well rested throughout the season.
‘Melo was slowed down with an injury during the playoffs, as he was hampered with a bothersome shoulder after all the contact he fought through over the course of the season.
If he plays at the 4, ‘Melo is also likely to receive more rest this season with the addition of World Peace and Bargnani. Should Anthony spend more time at the 3, Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. will likely spell ‘Melo in an effort to give New York’s star player some more rest.
If the Knicks manage to enter the postseason healthy, they have a strong chance of meeting Miami in an Eastern Conference Finals showdown.