NBA Trade Ideas: 10 Bold Predictions for New York Knicks with Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has been a New York Knick for almost a week now and the Melodrama has still not subsided.
He has continued to dominate headlines and face questions from the media about leaving Denver and what is next for him and the Knicks.
Not to jump on the bandwagon, but what exactly is next for Anthony and the Knicks?
This trade is considered to be one of the most pivotal in New York history and it is going to be interesting to see exactly what the effects are.
Will Anthony lead the Knicks to the playoffs?
Can New York improve in the Eastern Conference standings?
How many games are the Knicks going to win?
These questions and more will be answered in the months to come.
As for now, all we can do is speculate and hypothesize.
On that note, here are 10 bold predictions for the New York Knicks and their new superstar, Carmelo Anthony.
No. 10: Carmelo Anthony Will Improve His 3-Point Shooting
Carmelo Anthony has always been known as a mediocre three-point shooter at best.
At 31 percent for his career, he has been no real major threat from beyond the arc.
However, this is bound to change while playing in Mike D'Antoni's uptempo offensive system.
Anthony is going to have to improve his three-point shooting to succeed in D'Antoni's offense, and with the entire NBA watching him, you better believe he is going to.
Furthermore, he should be getting more open looks from three-point range than he did in Denver. If the three-ball is there and you're a New York Knick, you take it.
The Knicks live and die by the three, which I'm not condoning, but it is a fact. And Anthony wants badly to impress New York and win over some of the fans who felt the trade for him cost the Knicks too much.
In his first few games with the Knicks, Anthony is shooting 60 percent from three-point range, and it may still be early, but it is a start.
D'Antoni's offense was made for a player like Anthony and it will force Anthony to perfect his three-point shooting so he feels comfortable in this offense.
More opportunities from beyond the arc means more practice. And practice makes perfect.
Anthony is on his way to becoming a legitimate threat from downtown.
No. 9: Toney Douglas Plays Up to His Full Potential
Toney Douglas is a very complex player.
At times, he looks simply amazing, but at other times, New York is left wondering why it drafted him.
The truth is that Douglas has only been a disappointment when the Knicks need him to be a true point guard.
However, this is not how Douglas plays and it is unrealistic of New York to expect him to change now. Douglas, in reality, is really an undersized 2-guard.
Despite this though, Douglas is an extremely effective player. He is averaging nine points, almost three rebounds and two assists in his 20 minutes per game.
He may not be a true point guard, but he can still pass the ball and he is capable of running the offense to a certain extent. But where Douglas really makes his impact is on the defensive side of the ball.
Douglas brings a defensive piece of mind to an offensive-minded team. And this is refreshing.
In 20 minutes per game, Douglas is averaging 1.2 steals, which translates into about three steals per 48 minutes, which is very impressive.
Don't let the Knicks' search for a backup point guard fool you. They are very satisfied with the defensive contribution Douglas makes. This is why you saw Douglas covering Dwayne Wade at times in Sunday night's game. He is capable of handling such duties.
Furthermore, Douglas has the potential to score points in bunches.
He is like Nate Robinson for the Knicks, in the sense he is a very streaky shooter, and once he gets it going he is tough to stop.
He is unlike Nate Robinson in his defensive ways, which the Knicks and their fans embrace.
Without Wilson Chandler coming off the bench, Douglas becomes the Knicks' go-to sixth man.
Look for him to start scoring more points and playing even more aggressive defense.
The Knicks will miss Chandler's contributions on the court, but Douglas will put up offensive and defensive numbers that can help the Knicks power through this transition.
No. 8: Landry Fields Becomes an Even Bigger Threat
Landry Fields is having an awesome rookie season.
He is averaging 10 points and over seven rebounds per game. He is a solid three-point shooter and an aggressive defender.
Coming out of the second round of the 2010 NBA draft, many did not believe Fields would be able to make a contribution.
But here we are, 57 games into the season, and Fields has started every game for New York at the shooting guard position.
Rookies have a tendency to hit a wall as the season progresses. Many have trouble adjusting to the rigors of an 82-game season.
This will not happen to Fields. Look for his numbers to actually improve.
With Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler now a part of the past, look for Fields to play a bigger role.
When teams are busy doubling Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, Fields will be left open and he will make the opposition pay.
If it wasn't for Blake Griffin, Fields would win Rookie of the Year without a doubt. But this is an afterthought.
Fields has more than exceeded expectations. He has proved that he belongs in the NBA and by the end of the season we will be watching a more explosive player on both offense and defense.
The Anthony trade decimated the Knicks roster, but Fields will step up to fill some of the voids left from this trade.
And he will show us all what he is truly made of.
By the end of the season, we may even be talking of Fields as a potential All-Star sometime in the very near future.
No. 7: Shawne Williams Emerges as the Starting Power Forward
Shawne Williams has been a surprise for not only the Knicks, but for the entire NBA.
Ask anyone over the summer and I guarantee that no one would be predicting that Williams would be making a significant contribution to any team.
Williams was picked for the team over Patrick Ewing Jr., the son of Knicks legend Patrick Ewing. The addition of him over Ewing Jr. left some fans with a bitter taste in their mouth.
This taste lingers no more.
Williams has proved that he was the right choice. He is averaging 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18 minutes per game. This is from a guy who wasn't even supposed to see much action at all this season.
But now he is a rotational player.
And by the end of the season, the Knicks will go back to their small-ball lineup, shifting Amar'e Stoudemire to center and starting Williams at the 4.
Williams' stats do not scream game-changer, but he has had his moments where he scores points in bunches. Additionally, he is shooting over 45 percent from beyond the arc, good for second in the league.
His absence from the 2011 NBA All-Star Game's Foot Locker Three-Point Contest was simply a travesty because he led the league in three-point field goal percentage at that time.
Despite this though, Williams has been quite a player to watch this season.
With the Carmelo Anthony trade decimating the Knicks roster, Williams will have an opportunity to play some big minutes the rest of this season.
Getting the nod to start at power forward Sunday night in Miami is only the beginning.
There is plenty more to come from Williams.
No. 6: Kelenna Azuibike Will Make an Actual Contribution
Kelenna Azubuike has not played in an NBA game in over a year, but it is being rumored that he is now closer than ever to returning to action.
This is welcomed news by the Knicks who desperately need some help off the bench.
At 6'5", Azubuike will not bring height to New York, but he will add that much-needed scoring punch coming off the bench.
He proved in Golden State that he could put up 15 or more points on a nightly basis. He is only 27 and when fully healthy, he can be pretty explosive on the court.
Additionally, Azubuike can play the 2 or the 3 and is a legitimate three-point threat to opposing teams. He can also grab five or more rebounds per game.
It has definitely been frustrating to watch Azubuike sit on the sideline up until now, but he is closer than ever to returning.
And once he does, he will make an immediate impact on the Knicks' style of play. Azubuike is a player that fits perfectly into Mike D'Antoni's offensive system and if he is ever at full strength, he has the potential to drop 20 or more points.
With opposing teams likely to smother Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks need some reliable outside shooters.
And Azubuike's return means that help is on the horizon.
No. 5: The Knicks Show a Great Improvement on the Defensive End
Amar'e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks have been defensively-challenged all season long.
The Carmelo Anthony trade only further handicapped their defensive situation.
However, the Knicks are showing signs of improvement and will be a different defensive team come season's end.
Stoudemire has worked hard to improve on the defensive end; he is fourth in the league with over 2.2 block shots per game. And he had a key block on LeBron James to help seal the Knicks victory over the Heat Sunday night.
Landry Fields has always been a solid defender, especially for a rookie. And Ronny Turiaf, although injury-prone, is not afraid to get his hands dirty on the defensive end.
The real surprise will come from new players Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
One of the things that disappointed fans about losing Raymond Felton was his defense. Felton has shown he is a much better defender than Billups.
However, it is clear that Billups has been working hard on the defensive end for New York. He had two key steals in Sunday night's victory and his help defense on Dwyane Wade was impeccable.
Anthony has long been considered a real softy on defense. But since joining the Knicks, the effort on the defensive end is clearly there.
He is keeping his hands up and being careful not to leave his feet. Anthony has also been fighting over picks and not allowing his man to go baseline. These are all major improvements on Anthony's part.
It seems that just maybe the Knicks are starting to get how important defense really is. In Mike D'Antoni's system, defense tends to go overlooked, but as the season nears the finish line, the Knicks will make excellent progress.
New York is starting to show the effort on the defensive end, and soon enough, the Knicks will no longer be a team opposing offenses can walk all over.
By season's end, we will see a New York team that has finally achieved a defensive piece of mind.
No. 4: Chauncey Billups Makes New York Forget All about Raymond Felton
Chauncey Billups was considered a throw-in to this Carmelo Anthony deal.
But he is proving to be much more than that.
Billups was nothing short of clutch in Sunday night's victory over the Heat. He had 16 points and two crucial steals.
One of the biggest knocks on Billups as he replaced Raymond Felton, aside from his age, was Felton's ability to play better defense.
In his first three games with the Knicks, Billups has proved he can be a workhorse on defense and then some.
He is also replacing Felton's scoring and although this game didn't show it, he has been dishing out just as well.
Some New York fans may still be bitter toward the Knicks for getting rid of Felton, but it will soon pass.
Personally, I was not an advocate of what the Knicks gave up for Anthony, mainly because of Danilo Gallinari, but I welcome the Knicks to prove me wrong.
I will never budge on my stance that the Knicks should not have traded Gallo, but Billups is winning me over. The guy is 34, but he plays with the speed and agility of a 24-year-old.
Furthermore, many doubted, including myself, that he would be able to adjust to Mike D'Antoni's uptempo offense, but he has handled this with ease. He doesn't have complete chemistry with all of his teammates yet, but it is clear he is headed in that direction fast.
And the leadership that he brings to this team is invaluable. He knows what it is like to contend for a championship. He knows what it takes to win a championship.
All along Billups has been viewed as a great trade asset for next season, but this is no longer the case.
As long as Billups stays healthy, he will quickly become a New York fan-favorite and complete the Knicks' current big three.
Whether the Knicks trade him next year is irrelevant.
Billups is here now and ready to make some noise.
No. 3: New York Knicks Will Make It Out of the 1st Round of the Playoffs
Amar'e Stoudemire was prepared to carry the Knicks to the playoffs with or without Carmelo Anthony by his side.
And now that the trading deadline has passed and the Knicks know who is on their roster, there is a very real possibility for them to make some noise in the playoffs.
Will they reach the Eastern Conference Finals this year?
Probably not, but to steal a page from Justin Bieber's book: never say never.
New York may not be ready to contend for an NBA title just yet, but it is equipped to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
As long as the Knicks do not drop to the seventh or eighth seed, and are able to avoid a first round against the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat, they will make it to the second round.
There is not a single team, besides the Celtics or Heat, in the East that can absolutely dominate the Knicks. And the Knicks have even shown at times that they can keep pace with Boston and Miami.
New York has already proved they can beat Chicago and Atlanta, and they will show a great improvement against Orlando this Tuesday.
The Knicks cannot yet consistently beat the elite teams, but they are good enough to remain relevant.
Look for them to make some noise in the playoffs this year.
No. 2: New York Knicks Take 4th Seed in Eastern Conference Playoff Standings
New York is currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 30-27, and it is looking to climb.
Although many believe, me included, that the Knicks gave up too much talent in the Carmelo Anthony trade, New York will still climb in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Knicks were going to move up with the team they had before Anthony in my opinion too, once the trade rumors subsided.
And it is the same case now.
The trade rumors are a thing of the past, for now, and Anthony wants to prove to New York he was worth everything they gave up for him.
Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony form quite a tandem and with Chauncey Billups' undeniable leadership skills, the Knicks are poised to make a run for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Is that reaching?
With 25 games to go and the Knicks being 5.5 games back of the fourth seed, it is completely feasible.
The Atlanta Hawks are on their way back down from cloud nine and are destined to fall in the standings. And Orlando is playing like a house of cards in the sense that it can implode at any given moment.
About half of the Knicks' remaining games are against teams with winning records, but only six are against the Eastern Conference's top four right now.
I'm not saying that the Knicks are going to the NBA Finals this year, but they very well could have home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Mike D'Antoni's high-octane offense is going to be even more explosive with the additions of Billups and Anthony, as well as the emergence of Shawne Williams.
The Knicks were destined to climb in the standings after the trading deadline, and if they can play consistently smart basketball the rest of the season, they very well could find themselves as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
No. 1: New York Knicks Will Win 50 or More Games
No, I'm not crazy.
Amar'e Stoudemire and the Knicks have a favorable schedule heading into the home stretch. It is a very real possibility that they finish off the season 20-5.
Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups proved Sunday night that they could lead the Knicks to victories over one of the NBA's elite teams.
Now all they have to do is prove that games like the one they played on Friday against the Cavaliers are behind them. New York needs to make sure it wins the games that they are supposed to.
To finish out the season, the Knicks have three games left against Orlando, two against Boston and one against Chicago. The rest are must-wins.
So the Knicks could actually go 1-5 in the aforementioned games and still hit the 50-win mark. It is not likely, but still possible.
If the Knicks can find a way to go 3-3 or 4-2 in those games, they have a very real chance at hitting 50 wins. Those six games are the toughest they have left.
Many are going to disagree, and 50 wins is a long shot, but if New York plays consistent basketball from here on, this is a legitimate goal.
Although a record of 20-5 may seem like a stretch or even outright crazy, I must reiterate that it is still feasible.
The Knicks are not ready to contend for a title yet, but with the favorable schedule they have the rest of the season, they are built to win games in bunches.
As long as the Knicks can avoid meltdowns like the one in Cleveland, I see 50 wins being an attainable goal.
Sure, this sounds crazy and dimwitted, but this isn't your average, run-of-the-mill speculation.
These are 10 bold predictions for New York. And this is certainly the boldest.