Thursday, March 3, 2011

Knicks from Chumps to Champs?

Will the Knicks Be Reaching for the NBA Cup Soon?
The Knicks are attempting to transform 10 years of failure into their third NBA crown ASAP. Donnie Walsh has done an amazing job in making the Knicks better. Is it a work in progress or are the Knicks ready to contend now, or even by 2012? The answer depends on who the real Knicks are? The team who beat the mighty Heat on its home court in Orlando or the uninspired gang that lost to the lowly Cavs just two days before? In order for the Knicks to win it all they can’t be up one day and down the next! Winning an NBA Championship or even going to the finals requires consistency and playing good “D.” Former winners of the crown, such as the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Heat and Pistons have been able to outscore and stop their opponents with the game on the line.
Knicks Strengths:
The Knicks, who have been losers for the past decade, have taken two giant steps towards being competitive. Donnie Walsh and company have put together a team that is well suited for Coach Mike D’Antony’s speed-ball game and they acquired three superstars in Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Now they have three players who usually score over 20 points a game. Two are among the NBA’s top-five scorers and the third, “Mr. Bigshot,” is one of the NBA’s most clutch players. On any given night, any one of the Knicks Big Three can score 30 or more points and take over the game. For the Knicks that rank second in the NBA in points per game at 106.2, scoring  is rarely the problem. The Knicks have also become an outstanding shot-blocking team this season. Knicks can play excellent defense when they maintain focus. They are excellent from the charity stripe, also second in the NBA. The team possesses strong veteran leadership, role models and willing mentors. Billups has even won a ring with the Pistons. Plus with three outstanding one-on-one players, the Knicks can play excellent half-court offense that makes them more competitive in the playoffs.

Knicks Weaknesses:
The Knicks three worst flaws are inconsistency, defensive lapses and weak rebounding. After blowing up the teams’ roster in the 'Melo trade and adding three stars and lots of new players, it will take time for the team to fully gel. It took the Miami Heat a quarter of a season to integrate its" big three. The Knicks' lack of height is another major deficit – especially since giving up 7’1” Center Timofey Mozgov 6’11” Forward Danilo Gallinari and the 6’8 but high-jumping Power Forward Wilson Chandler in the Anthony trade. The Knicks are allowing 105.5 points per game, which is too many.
Should the Knicks Load Up or D Up to Win the Crown?
Although superstars win games, adding a fourth is not as important as being able to play strong defense that stops other teams. Carmelo Anthony stressed that defense would be the most important factor in determining the Knicks' success. He explained that the Knicks do not have to have the best defense or even play it all game long, “we just have to be able to get stops for a few minutes at a time” to beat our opponents. For example, Amar’e's block of Lebron James' layup turned out to be the game winner for the Knicks against the Magic in Orlando.
How the Knicks Can Go from Chumps to Champs:
  • Get comfortable playing together after the trade
  • Be much more consistent
  • Pay attention to individual and team defense, especially at crunch time
  • Concentrate on team rebounding
  • Get back quickly and guard against giving up easy baskets 
My Predictions:
I believe that it is only a matter of time until the Knicks become serious contenders. They're already showing flashes of greatness. However, they need to get comfortable with their new teammates and develop strong defense and consistency in order to become a force in the NBA. This does not even take into account that Donnie Walsh expects to have caproom for an additional max salary player. Imagine how much better they would be if they can only add Dwight Howard? I would be surprised if the Knicks got past the second round this year. However, Knick fans should be able to look forward to rooting for a serious contender in 2012.

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