Are the Knicks the top dogs in East?
The buzz the new look Knicks have caused has many in NYC talking titles. That's not something that's been heard often at Madison Square Garden, or in the media for quite some time.
Kudos to Knick's management on gutting the roster over the last few years and getting the superstars in place to help lead Gotham back to the title New Yorkers crave. Donnie Walsh's work will not be forgotten and with an assist from interim GM Glen Grunwald, the roster is looking quite prosperous.
The newly renovated MSG will have fans in awe and the players seem to be ready to do the same. The major offseason moves consisted of acquiring big man Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby along with rookies Iman Shumpert, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan. Let's take a closer look at the starters, possible subs and the season outlook for the Knicks during the upcoming 2011-2012 season.
He can defend but can he lead?
They say it all starts with a solid point guard and the Knicks have a young one in the 25 year old Toney Douglas. With the release of Chauncey Billups, the keys to the Knicks offense have been handed over to the third year guard. Defensively, Douglas is one of the better on-ball defenders in the league. He gets right up on his opponents and uses cat like quickness to pester his man up the court.
The Florida native has shot almost 40 percent from three point range and can shoot both standing still and off the dribble. How he develops in his orchestration of the team's offense will dictate how far the Knicks can possibly go. Mike Bibby has been brought in in hopes of resurrecting a career that seems to be fading quickly. His ability to hit the open jumper will keep him on the roster along with his experience.
The wild card here is how Baron Davis' back heals over time. He is a power guard, so he will need his balky back to be in some kind of order to produce on the hardwood. Davis has the ability to break his man down off the dribble, post up opposing guards and shoot both the spot up three as well as off the dribble. He can make the Knicks very dangerous come playoff time. And anyone who saw how well he played versus the Knicks last year can understand when focused, how effective Davis can be as a player?
Landry better days are ahead of him
Once again Landry Fields benefits from the Knicks offseason moves that addressed needs other than shooting guard. The second year player has found his niche in the league and it is in the form of rebounding, as he was second in the league as a rookie.
For his game to go to next level, Fields needs to become a more consistent shooter from outside and get to the free throw line more frequently. Fields is one of the brightest students of the game, and it shows in games as he doesn't turn the ball over often.
Bill Walker, who still possesses a great vertical leap, has improved his three point shot as he shot over 40 percent from that distance during his stay in New York. Walker still seems to have not yet gained his agility back in full since his past knee surgeries.
Rookie Iman Shumpert has looked solid in preseason and raised many eyebrows amongst Knicks coaches and management. With what he has shown defensively, he is a consistent jump shot away from possibly starting on this year's team.
Protector of the Paint
The addition of Tyson Chandler will help shore the interior defense of the Knicks. He is already getting the tag of being a great teammate and an extremely positive individual.
His ability to communicate on defense is similar to how a point guard is supposed to run an offense. The 7'1" Chandler will be counted on to correct the mistakes his teammates make on defense as well as bail them out with his solid shot blocking ability.
If only the Knicks would have made the right choice and offered him the money they gave Eddie Curry years back. With the 2011-2012 season about to embark, the Knicks will lean heavily on Chandler until their youthful size that will be backing him up are fully ready to step up.
Harrellson is an undersized banger who has nice range for a big man and will definitely crash the boards and secure rebounds. In Jerome Jordan, you have a raw, but very athletic 25 year old whose post game is coming together. Jordan has the ability to block shots with his length and leaping ability. If these two develop quickly, Chandler will not have to go 35 minutes plus with such a hectic schedule this year.
How in shape is Amare?
Amare Stoudemire should have a lot built up after last years quick exit versus Boston. The player who goes by STAT has now bulked up to 270 lbs as it seems recent back woes are now behind him.
Now that the opposition has to respect his much improved jump shot, Stoudemire can aggressively attack the basket on both pick and roll, dive, and isolation plays. He often goes by players towards the right even though they know its coming, which is what separates him from other power forwards.
Stoudemire should benefit most on the floor now that he get to play versus more power forwards during games and should have some mismatches versus smaller post players. He will be able to show off more of his overall skill set from the power forward spot. Hopefully for Knick fans STAT'S back will be able to endure the jam packed schedule without it affecting his playing time.
Behind him will be the offensively challenged Jared Jeffries, who always seems to be amongst the leaders in taking offensive charges. His keen defensive skills allow him to defend multiple positions make him a key factor off the bench. Jefferies must improve on finishing around the basket and find a mid range jump shot.
The soon to be Knick Steve Novak, known only for his shooting prowess, will become a stretch power forward who will hopefully be as accurate from three point range as he has been in the past (career 47.1 percent). Josh Harrellson could probably play some minutes here as well if needed.
Carmelo has the help he needs now
Carmelo now has the chance to start the new season with his new mates and gel from the start of the season. The new leader of the bunch will use his scoring prowess to overwhelm defenders night in and night out. In the Knick high octane offense, Anthony's improved range will be leaned on more often, as the numbers of shooters on the current roster has diminished slightly. He is a great clutch player who likes the ball in crunch time and that's why he was brought here.
His ability to distribute seems to be as underrated as Anthony's court vision, and his assists will go up this year having two big men that can really finish around the basket.
Already a competent rebounder, Anthony and his whole game will remind Knicks fans of the great Bernard King on both ends of the floor the team will take a big step forward. His rendition of King on the offensive end is a joy to watch for fans and basketball aficionados.
After Anthony, the Knicks could look to the likes of Renaldo Balkman, who has looked solid early in preseason. Landry Fields, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffires and even Iman Shumpert could see time at small forward.
Defensive help on the way
To help the Knicks flourish on both ends of the floor, management brought in the services of former Knick Mike Woodson.
Woodson has carved out quite the reputation as a defensive coach. He was part of the coaching staff for the Detroit Pistons' 2004 championship team whose defense was developed by Woodson. His presence will give the team solid balance and a way to hopefully get deeper into the playoffs.
D'Antoni's famed seven seconds or less offense better be ready to produce this year. He has had major pieces added to his roster and the time to win is now.
With talks in the wind of the "Zen Master" Phil Jackson lurking and now Woodson in the wings, D'Antoni and his staff have to get the new look Knicks on the same page on both ends of the court if they want keep talking title.
The players seem to really enjoy playing for him, and barring too many injuries, the Knicks really have the type of team that can contend and match up well versus the likes of Miami, Chicago and Boston for conference supremacy.
Early Playoff Prediction
Eastern Conference Finals