Going into last season, the Knicks preached defense as their priority but ended up becoming a record-breaking offensive team and one of the worst defensive teams left in the playoffs by the second round.
Tyson Chandler was still elite inside—good for an All-Defensive first team selection—but with little help on the perimeter until Iman Shumpert returned, New York's team defense was mediocre at best.
With Shumpert and Kenyon Martin now on the team for a full season and Metta World Peace joining them, the Knicks have plenty of great individual defenders. Becoming an elite defense, however, requires contributions from everyone on the team.
On the bright side, it was only two years ago that the Knicks finished fifth in defensive efficiency with a roster with much worse defensive personnel. Players like Jeremy Lin, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Steve Novak and Amar'e Stoudemire all played major minutes that season, yet the defense remained elite.
What that means is that it's very possible the Knicks could turn things around this season. Stoudemire is playing less minutes, while players like Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have certainly gotten better as individual defenders.
The key for New York really comes down to two players—Raymond Felton and Andrea Bargnani.
Felton had a pretty good reputation as a defender until last season, where he allowed a 19.7 player efficiency rating from opposing point guards. This was particularly surprising considering his weight loss, which does raise questions as to what he can really do to improve in 2013-14. It could turn out that cutting his minutes is the only way to fix the issue.
Meanwhile, in the frontcourt, Mike Woodson has a tough decision to make as to whether Bargnani or Anthony will play outside. Both players were above average as defensive power forwards last season, but could struggle out on the perimeter.