How the Knicks perform in the 2012-2013 season will be a testament to an issue applicable across all sports; the value of knowledge and experience versus athleticism and youth.
Coming into the season the Knicks were the oldest team in NBA history with an average age on the roster of 32 years and 240 days. The team included a 40-year old forward in Kurt Thomas and two 38-year old frontcourt reserves in Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace. Jason Kidd was entering his 19th NBA season at 39 years old.
In the beginning of the season the Knicks looked sharp and the introduction of this strong veteran leadership was a leading cause. Keen point guard play and a flowing offense with supreme ball movement helped the Knicks reach a record of 11-4 in November, the first month of their season.
The month included big victories like an opening night 104-84 victory against the defending champion, Miami Heat and an 104-100 win over the San Antonio Spurs who at that time were first in the NBA’s power rankings.
The Knicks carried on with their success through December going 10-5 and reaching a record of 21-9. Their offense continued to look like one of a serious contender for a championship and Carmelo Anthony was a front-runner for MVP Honors.
The start of 2013 seemed to be a tipping point where age was beginning to make an impact on the team and a lack of younger talent that at first seemed insignificant was now noticeable. Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby have both been out with foot injuries and Kidd’s three-point shooting has dropped from 50.8% by December 11, to 37.4%. Although 37.4% is by no means something to sneer at, this 13.4% drop can be attributed to an extremely cold shooting streak over the past two months.
The Knicks went 7-6 in January and have gone 4-4 so far in February. Their monthly records have gotten worse as the season has progressed but Knicks fans should not fret just yet. The return of Iman Shumpert and the steady development of Chris Copeland have brought youth back into the rotation and the Knicks should continue to improve their chemistry under the strong leadership of Mike Woodson.
Let’s not forget the Dallas Mavericks who took down the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. Their 9-man rotation during their 4-2 series victory was an average age of 31.09 years. Maybe the Knicks’ 6th man and shooting guard, J.R. Smith should get the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy tattooed on his bicep just like the Mavericks’ 6th man and shooting guard Jason Terry did; that is if he could even find space for it.