New York Knicks: Are They the Best Team in the Eastern Conference?

Chris HaydukCorrespondent IIDecember 27, 2011

New York Knicks: Are They the Best Team in the Eastern Conference?

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    It feels good to have the NBA season once again, especially if you're a New York Knicks fan.  With the acquisition of Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis, as well as the addition of rookies Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson, the Knicks look poised to make a deep run into the playoffs this year. 

    With these new players, New York has shored up its defense and rebounding, while also adding depth and skill at the point guard.  However, one question still remains: Exactly how good are the Knicks? 

    That is a very difficult question to answer, with many variables factoring into the equation.  To make things a little bit easier, I'm just going to assume that all players will remain healthy for the rest of the year for all teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics

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    If you take into account the 2010-2011 season, you see that the Knicks were able to beat every team in the East aside from the Boston Celtics.  The veteran leadership by their Big Three, Doc River's outstanding coaching and Rondo's knack for breaking down the defense made the Celtics too formidable of a foe.  However, just one year later, the Celtics' age is starting to show.  

    Even though the Knicks are not a particularly fast team, in their season opener, they simply outran the Celtics at every single opportunity.  Four of their five starters are over the age of 33, and they don't have a deep bench to back them up with the loss of Jeff Green.  Looking at this objectively, I can't see any way that the Celtics will be able to beat the Knicks consistently this year.

The Bulls

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    The next team that could pose a threat to the Knicks is the Chicago BullsDerrick Rose has been making waves in the NBA with his uncanny speed and scoring ability.  However, I think that this scoring ability could be the team's downfall.

    With Rose as the primary scorer on the Bulls, the other players are mostly left to score on putbacks off of his misses.  This essentially means that Rose will be trying to outscore Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.  With Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas and Baron Davis (when he gets back from his injury) to defend Rose, I don't see him beating the duo of 'Melo and STAT on his own.

    Furthermore, the Knicks have shown that they can beat the Bulls, ending last year's regular season with a record of 2-1 against them.  With the Knicks' huge acquisition of Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis, I don't see that record improving for the Bulls.

The Heat

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    The Miami Heat are the only significant road block for the Knicks.  With their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they can simply overwhelm most teams with their star power.  However, the Knicks are one of the few teams with the ability to challenge them.

    With LeBron matching up against 'Melo and Bosh going against Amar'e, it essentially nullifies all of those players, considering how evenly matched they are.  This leaves Wade to carry the Heat, while Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis will have to carry the Knicks.  That situation could pretty much go either way, depending on the performance of each individual player.  The Heat and Knicks will most likely split their season series, and if they meet in the playoffs, it will definitely go to at least Game 6. 

Conclusion

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    As you can see, the Knicks have the potential to be the best team in the East, with their main opposition being the Miami Heat.  It'll be interesting to see how the shortened season plays out, with many of the traditionally dominant teams starting to falter. 

    In any case, expect the Knicks to be at least third in the East, and possibly even second or first depending on how well their new players mesh together.