With big expectations before last season, the New York Knicks fared pretty well. They had one of the best regular seasons in the league. However, they fell short to the Pacers in the Eastern Semis. Even with an early playoff exit, the Knicks should build off the momentum from last season. Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title and he’ll obviously continue to carry the load for this Knick team that lives and dies by him. What should we expect out of NYK this year? I present to you my N.Y. Knicks 2013-14 season preview:
Guards (B+): Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Beno Udrih, J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni
New York’s guard play took many by surprise last season. You need consistent guard play to be good in this league. Last season, New York finally got that. Raymond Felton seems to fit well in his role and does a good job of getting teammates involved. J.R. Smith is clearly a much bigger threat this preseason than we knew him as last preseason. It’s not just Melo teams have to worry about. With the way Smith shot the ball last year, teams must beware of his ability to run up the score. At 23 years old, Iman Shumpert has already developed an identity as one of the best lockdown defenders in the game. Beno Udrih was an underlooked signing. He should be a very solid backup and energy player for this improved rotation.
Forwards (A-): Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Hardaway
Beside LeBron James and Kevin Durant, no player may have been more valuable to his team than Melo last year. Melo openly took the team on his shoulders and showed much improved responsibility. That play and attitude is expected to carry over into this season. Melo remains basically an unstoppable scoring machine. Andrea Bargnani was an interesting addition. There’s no question he fits the system. However, individually, Bargnani hasn’t lived up to his 2006 first overall draft pick. Bargnani is going to have to get used to playing off the ball and always be ready to catch and shoot. World Peace and Stoudemire are both big question marks. Neither make near the impact they used to but we’ll see if their veteranship and remaining skillset can give New York’s bench a lift.
Centers (B+): Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, Cole Aldrich
Although former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler didn’t play with the same force last year, he’s still a premiere post defender. The Knicks would not be able to survive without him as he is the backbone to their defense. Chandler is 31 years old and has done an excellent job rebounding from his past injury issues. He’ll continue to be a crucial part of New York’s success. Kenyon Martin was an excellent signing near the end of last season. Martin is a relentless defender and he’s also a decent finisher at the hoop. I think he works well with the makeup of this roster.
Defense (B): New York’s defense was also much improved under head coach Mike Woodson. After years of just preaching offense, Woodson made it known that defense would be a factor in the team’s success. As I said before, the defense starts with Tyson Chandler. He’s there at the basket in case a player blows by J.R. or Felton. That isn’t often the case with Shumpert, who is a killer on the defensive end. Bargnani certainly doesn’t help New York’s defensive stock so he’ll have to put in work to satisfy Coach Woodson.
Shooting (B+): New York’s three-point attack was dangerous last year as they torched teams with the perimeter shot. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost one of the league’s most outstanding three-point shooters in Steve Novak. However, they’ll still be able to survive because Carmelo attracting the defense is the reason so much space is freed up for three-point shooters. Bargnani is capable of knocking down shots consistently, especially with the extra space he should have this year.
Experience (A): The Knicks are experienced and basketball-smart enough to win the championship. They have fantastic defensive players, an undeniable offensive weapon, and pretty good leaders on the court. Many teams have taken an approach to garner young players but New York will roll the dice with players who have been around this league a while.
Standing – 5th East: New York improved, but other teams such as Brooklyn and Chicago improved more. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if New York proved me wrong and cracked the top three in the East . This team is definitely capable of doing a lot of damage.
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