Back in the 2012-13 season, the Knicks were prospering. New York finished with 54 wins for only the eighth time in the franchise’s 68-year existence. Additionally, they won their first playoff series in over a decade.
Fast forward to the beginning of the 2013-14 season, where nearly everyone considered the Knicks a playoff team. In fact, some even had them advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. The core of the team, including Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton were all returning from successful campaigns. New York brought in a couple of veterans, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih, and had a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire committed to his role coming off of the bench.
As the basketball world knows, New York never rose to their potential. A brutal 10-game losing streak early in the year set them back and they could never return to .500. However, despite their woes last year, the Knicks have the ability to make a return to the playoffs next season. It is far from a lock, but it is possible.
In 2012-13, the Knicks minute leaders were J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Tyson Chandler. Smith won the 6th Man of the Year award, Anthony won the scoring title and both Melo and Chandler made the all-star game.
Anthony arguably had an even better statistical season the following year. Despite his points per game average dropping, he saw an increase in rebounds per game, assists per game and field goal percentage. Still, the other three players saw a decline in production.
Smith saw a drastic decline in points per game, from 18.1 to 14.5. His field goal percentage dropped slightly, and his two point field goal percentage went down by 2%. Felton, after looking like a starting point guard in 2012-13, went back to his old ways, where he played like a backup. He saw his PER (player efficiency rating) drop from 15.2 to 12.9. After Chandler was named an all-star for the first time in 2012-13, he has become a disappointment. Chandler’s undeveloped offensive game was evident for the most part this past year. His offensive win shares decreased from 6.7 to 3.1. When he wasn’t struggling on the court, the former Defensive Player of the Year was struggling just to get on the court. An early season leg injury slowed him down, and he never got back to full speed.
While it may seem like a long shot, there is no reason why these three players cannot get back to their level of play during the 2012-13 playoff run. In addition to the possibility of the core players returning to old form, the Knicks are excited about the seeing the impact of Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. These young Knicks draftees are loaded with potential. Furthermore, New York’s new head coach, Derek Fisher, could be the spark that the Knicks need to ignite them to victory.
The first thing Knicks’ President Phil Jackson needs to do is lure impending free agent Carmelo Anthony back to the Big Apple. If that happens and the other core Knicks can perform at a high level, the Knicks could be back in the playoff hunt once again.