The biggest change to the NBA this season for me has been not having to change the channel when a Knicks game is on.
I'll be the first to admit that until this season, I was never very pumped to watch a Knicks game on television.
There was no camaraderie, no real excitement, and really no hope that they could win.
After acquiring Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, something has truly clicked in New York City.
You just feel a different kind of energy watching the games this year. Felton has elevated his play to that of an elite guard this year, Amare has proven that he's more than just a flash in the pan talent, and the Knicks role players are all willing to chime in, in order to produce the much needed W.
All of this bodes well for the Knicks going into the 2011 playoffs, as most are growing confident that New York will nab a lower post season spot, and potentially upset a contender.
I, like many of the readers on this site have watched quite a few teams now in my time, and I can say without question that this Knick's squad is for real. If the key components continue to operate at their full potential, then New York has as good a chance as anyone to make waves in the post season this year.
After watching the Knicks victory over the Spurs on the 4th, I was inspired to write up my thoughts on this years New York Knicks.
The following are ten good reasons for you to not sleep on the Knicks this year.
Wilson Chandler has tantalized New York fans for years now with his potential, but this year he has started to deliver on all the talks of what kind of player he could become.
Chandler is off to a blazing start averaging 18 ppg, a block and a half per contest, and he's shooting lights out at 49% / 39% respectively. He is also averaging nearly a full rebound more per game than any of his previous seasons.
The most impressive part of these great stats, is that they are all career highs for Wilson. He's making the most of every possession, and seems to be intent on stamping his name on each of the Knick's contests. I'm not sure how much longer he'll be able to play under the radar, but at this rate it looks as if he'll be able to make the adjustment when teams finally realize who they're dealing with.
No longer is Chandler merely a cog on the roster in New York, as the 2010/2011 season looks to be his coming out party in the National Basketball Association.
If you don't know who Landry Fields is, I promise that you will soon.
This first year man out of Stanford has hit the scene running in his rookie season, already making a name for himself on the New York Knicks.
Averaging 10 points and seven rebounds per game is usually a good stat line, but when you do it shooting 51% as a shooting guard, it's more shocking than anything else.
Fields is quickly showing us that he can be very effective in many areas of this game. He scores at a high percentage, rebounds like most forwards, already averages over a steal per contest, and can knock down long range shots at a clip of 35%.
Not bad for a rookie right?
But I'll tell you what I see in Fields that impresses me much more than his stats. I see heart, hustle, and the will to win. I see a man diving after loose balls, crashing the glass for second chance points, and hitting big jumpers when his team is struggling.
With the right guidance, this kid could go a long way in this league. At the moment he'll focus on making this Knicks squad a contender out east.
Forget Johny for the moment, and check out what Danilo Gallinari is doing for the Knicks this season!
While is main stats have stood still so far this year, Danilo has made a great improvement in his free throw shooting. Shooting about six percent better this year (88%) from the stripe will undoubtedly benefit the Knicks this year, especially with how much shooting this forward does.
Averaging around 15 points per game is no slouch of an effort either, as Gallinari has proven that he can be a reliable contributor on the offensive end.
With much of his points coming from beyond the arc, Danilo also allows the Knicks to stretch the floor with his deadly range. Having a shooter like Gallinari on the outside undoubtedly takes pressure off of Amar'e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.
If Gallinari can continue to be a threat from the outside, the Knicks offense will continue to flow as it has been.
The more that I see from this young player, the more I like his game.
Toney Douglas is now in his second season in the NBA with the Knicks, and he's continuing to make believers out of the New York fans.
He's thriving in the role of the sixth man, and is providing the Knicks with instant offense off of the bench whenever it's needed.
His shooting percentages may be down a bit from last season, but dips like this are customary in the sophomore slump.
On the positive side, both his points per game (9.4) and his free throw percentage (84%) are up from his rookie season. I've also been noticing that he doesn't seem to have a problem with big shots, as I've seen numerous three balls from him with the clock winding down.
What all of this means is development.
He's embracing his role as the teams energizing sixth man, and is doing a darn good job of keeping the offense flowing when the stars need their rest. One thing the Knicks needed to rise to relevance is an off the bench spark-plug like Toney Douglas, and now they have him.
Can this really be the same guard we saw in Charlotte, North Carolina?
Traveling can bring out a lot in people. You try new food, live in different surroundings, maybe you even grow a little bit by what you have experienced. But can you believe what a change of scenery has done for New York guard Raymond Felton??
We all knew he was the right choice to start for the Charlotte Bobcats, but in a New York uniform, he's looking more and more like an elite point guard every game.
How does this translate numbers wise?
Since coming to New York to join Amar'e Stoudemire and crew, Felton has drastically improved in three major statistical columns. He's now averaging 18 points per game (a six point increase), nearly nine assists per game ( a three assist increase), and is shooting 86% from the free throw line (a 10 percent increase).
Think this guy likes his new situation?
His three point percentage has fallen a bit, but I never would have guessed it with the games I've seen. He's shown me some pretty good range numerous games already this season.
All of this adds up to New York finally having an elite level guard to run the potent D'Antoni offense. If Felton can keep climbing the ladder to elite status, the Knicks will have a great chance of making noise in the post season.
Amar'e did more than add to his name with that apostrophe, he added to his game.
Just like Ray Felton, Amar'e has elevated his game in New York City.
Before this season a fan of basketball would have described Amar'e's game as explosive, and flashy. If you were to ask a fan of the sport this year, you would get quite a different description.
Sure the flash and the dunks are still there, but Amar'e has shown us that he truly is so much more than that kind of player. The change goes beyond numbers and stats however, as the real change that occurred in Stoudemire was in his mind. Even if your one of his biggest fans, you have to admit that his attitude in Phoenix just plain sucked.
He always acted like he was owed something, or that he deserved so much more than what he got. His play reflected that attitude also, as he could be explosive one game, and absent the next.
Now in a New York state of mind, Amar'e has a different outlook on things. He has assumed the role of the franchise player, and he's playing accordingly. The offense is running through him, and he's making the most of the situation by putting up mind boggling MVP worthy numbers this year.
The biggest change in Amar'e however, is that he's proud of what he's doing out on the court, and it shows.
He's shooting 52% from the field.
He's blocking over two shots a game.
He's dropping in 26.5 points to go along with nine rebounds per contest.
He's the new Amar'e Stoudemire.
There, I said it. Wanna fight about it?
This New York squad is chalked full of youth and athleticism, and that's the perfect ingredients for Mike D'Antoni's run and gun offense.
Who cares about defense when you can put in so many points?
Okay, so maybe defense is pretty important, and Stoudemire is leading the effort in keeping the opposition from playing in the paint. Adding to this effort is Raymond Felton, who is keeping guards in check nightly as he racks up the steals on a consistent basis.
D'Antoni's system calls for energy, hustle, and a rather high shooting percentage. This is something that won't work for just any group of guys, but it seems to fit like a glove for this New York City team. They have all the right pieces to score from any spot on the floor, and the youth to make it last late into the game.
Not to mention Mike D'Antoni knows Stoudemire inside and out. If any one could bring the greatness out of the power forward, you had to know it would be Mike.
If he can keep them on the right track, it looks like the Knicks will be taken seriously for some time to come.
Like the ball in this picture, an east playoff spot is New York's for the taking.
I mean seriously, how hard is it to snake into the post-season in the East?
Who are the top teams?
.....and then who exactly?
There are four spots remaining after the elite teams of the East have their say, and you bet your mortgage that one of them could be filled by the New York Knicks.
Atlanta looks shaky at best thus far this season, and I don't think Indiana or Philadelphia will challenge.
So who does that leave? Cleveland? I don't think so.
The Bucks will also likely slide in, but other than that, I don't see any threat of keeping New York from the playoffs.
The fans in New York City have always been loyal to their Knicks, but now they are actually starting to believe that this team can make something happen.
I've attended Knicks games in Madison Square Garden both this year and last, and this is what I noticed.
Last year the stands where full, but the reaction from the crowd was very mocking. I would constantly hear people jeer the struggling squad, and they had a pretty good reason to. The Knicks were playing some terrible basketball, and New Yorkers let them know they weren't happy.
This year the stands were again full, but the reaction from the crowd could only be described as pure pride. Besides the "come to New York" comment I'd hear regarding Carmelo Anthony, most of what I heard were fans that were overjoyed to have something to cheer for.
As the Utah Jazz can attest to, having a proud and rowdy crowd come playoff time is very important. When a team has great fans, it nearly always has a ripple affect on the players. Now New York will have the loud voices on their side, something that could prove to be invaluable.
Many players on this team came to the Knicks from bad situations, so it's understandable how they seem to be having so much fun out there together.
One of the biggest ingredients to a successful team is chemistry. If the players don't like each other, it's going to show. If players cannot stick to their role on the team, it will hurt the teams chances of coming out on top. Chemistry also happens to be one of the Knick's strong points this season, as the players seem to be firing on all cylinders.
New York already had a wealth of talent going into this season, and now with this kind of free-wheeling chemistry, they have the chance to beat any team in the NBA on any given night.
It's sure amazing to be reminded what a team can accomplish when they truly play together, and I have an inkling that it will take New York far this season, and in seasons to come.