The new-look New York Knicks have put together a young team with the leadership and depth they always lacked.
Many experts see this team in the playoffs for the first time since 2004, but what else is in store for this upcoming season?
Young Anthony Randolph at just 21 years of age looks ready to breakout, while point guard Raymond Felton is ready to prove he can run a team with an uptempo style.
Incoming superstar Amar'e Stoudemire gives the Knicks their first dominant offensive big man since Patrick Ewing in the late 1990's.
Here are six bold predictions that could certainly happen for the New York Knicks' in their upcoming season.
Raymond Felton, the Knicks' starting point guard, has already said that he cannot wait to throw alley-oops all day to Amar'e Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph, and the other athletic run-and-gun Knicks.
“(I expect) a lot of lobs and exciting dunks, along with Amar’e,” Felton said- http://www.nba.com/knicks/news/felton_signs071210.html
With Bill "Sky" Walker, Amar'e Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph, Wilson Chandler, Kellena Azubuike, Danillo Gallinari, and the 7 foot, athletic Russian new center Timofey Mozgov all running up and down with their new speedy PG Raymond Felton, the 2010-11 New York Knicks will be a highlight-reel waiting to happen.
I can just picture the pick-and-roll alley-oop dishes from Felton to Stoudemire with the rim rattling slam dunk finishes by Stoudemire, followed by Stoudemires' trademark emphatic chest pumps.
Raymond Felton is coming off a year in which he averaged 12.1 PPG and 5.6 Assists in 33 minutes per game as the starting PG for the slow-paced Charlotte Bobcats.
In Felton's best season with the Bobcats, 2007-08, he averaged 14.4 PPG and 7.4 APG in 37 minutes per game.
The speedy point guard isn't far-off from a 17 and 10 year, and quite frankly his averages are only going to go up in the uptempo system Dantoni employs in New York.
In New York, Felton finally has the great outside shooters in Danillo Gallinari (Career 39% 3 PT shooter) and Kelenna Azuibuike (Career 41% 3 PT shooter) alongside him that he never had in Charlotte (Stephen Jackson Career 33% shooter from 3 PT, Gerald Wallace career 31% shooter from 3 PT).
Not to mention one of the best offensive Power Forwards in the NBA, Stoudemire, for Raymond Felton to work the pick and roll to perfection with. Stoudemire will also demand double-teams and draw open looks for the outside shooters.
Last year the Knicks averaged only 3.7 Blocks per game, which ranked last in the league.
To put this in perspective, Center Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic averaged 3 blocks per game on his own.
Things should change this year for the Knicks in the block category.
With the Additions of Anthony Randolph(1.5 BPG in 09-10), Ronny Turiaf (1.4 BPG for career), and even Amar'e Stoudemire (1.4 BPG for career), the Knicks bring in three new players who combined have out-blocked the entire team from the 2009-10 season.
Not to mention Wilson Chandler, Kelenna Azubuike, and 7 foot, 24 year old Russian newcomer Timofey Mozgov, who all posses excellent defense as well and blocking as well.
Although the Knicks may still not be a good defensive team (whether their coach would like them to be or not), they're toughness and blocking power will certainly be more prevalent and atop of the league.
One of the reasons I like this 2010-11 Knicks team so much is because many of the players have toughness, youth, and high energy. The team's great depth this year includes many young players with very high potential.
Here is a look at some of the Knicks prized prospects:
-Danillo Gallinari, age 22, is coming off a season in which he averaged 15 PPG, 5 RPG and came in second in the league with 186 three-pointers made.
-Newly acquired Anthony Randolph, age 21, has top-10 player potential and rare traits that people can only dream of. He stands at 6 foot 11 inches, but can dribble like a guard. Not to mention his speed and athleticism are off the charts for someone of his size. If he has the season that people expect him to have in New York's high octane and free offense, it would be very hard for NY to include Randolph in any trade, including Melo.
-Timofey Mozgov, age 24, is a seven foot center with great athleticism and a good mid-jumper. Players like these are hard to find. This could be one reason why the Knicks had to secretly scout him all the way in Russia. With some time and experience, Mozgov could turn into a steal and one of the most athletic and dominant centers in the NBA. His good footwork and speed allow him to run the pick and roll easily, while running up and down the floor quickly as well.
-Kelenna Azubuike, age 26, has had quite a journey to the NBA. The Ex-Kentucky Wildcat was a D-leaguer before being signed to an NBA contract, but ever since he has certainly proved he belongs. Two seasons ago, Azubuike shot an outstanding 46% from behind the arc, while pulling down 5 boards per game as well. The 6'5 shooting guard will certainly be a fan favorite in New York because of his toughness and pure shooting.
Yes, 48 games. At first thought this seems out of reach, but after breaking down their schedule and realizing how many teams took steps back this off-season, it shouldn't be any trouble for the Knicks to knock off the Bosh-less Raptors, the Lebron-less Cavs, The Felton-less Bobcats, The rebuilding Pacers, The extremely young and not quite there 76ers, the log-jammed Pistons, and the unimproved NJ Nets.
Not to mention the fact that in the Western Conference, besides the Lakers, OKC, and Dallas Mavericks, every team has taken a step back as well.
Projected home record: 29-12
Projected road record: 19-22
Lets face it, The Miami Heat will be going to the NBA Finals from the East.
However, The projected second and third-seeded Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics, respectively, are certainly beatable this year.
If the Knicks earn a 7th or even 6th seed and match-up against the Magic or Celtics in the first round, the Garden will be rocking for the first time in a while. I don't see neither of these two teams being able to take the Knicks down without playing 6 or 7 games in the opening round series, considering the fact that Boston is declining year after year, and Orlando collapsed last year in the playoffs.
To make things even more interesting, with a 48-34 record, the Knicks could potentially eek-out a 5th seed which would probably match them up against the Bucks or Hawks, two teams that struggled to move deep into the playoffs last year.
If the Knicks can escape Miami in the first round, Knicks fans will be surprised by their team's capability to advance deep into the playoffs for the first time in a decade.