It seems just like yesterday we were cursing out Roy Hibbert as he grabbed his 107th rebound of the Knicks/Pacers series and looked on in horror as Lance Stephenson morphed into Larry Bird. Yet, finally meaningful New York Knicks games are just about here. Let’s roll through 12 observations and thoughts as they gear up for their opener with Milwaukee.
1. Grantland’s Zach Lowe did this terrific deep dive on the Knicks present and future status. Within the article he raises the question of considering moving Carmelo Anthony for a collection of assets instead of maxing him out and then attempting to build around him through the hit or miss process of free agency. WSJ’s Chris Herring echoed the sentiment today with this article. This isn’t a crazy thought process by any stretch of the imagination and you could make a very sound argument that the Knicks would be better off by taking this course. However, considering the framework we know that is in place at MSG…it is overwhelmingly unlikely to occur. James Dolan isn’t letting Carmelo go anywhere, so the hope needs to be they can properly build around him.
2. Speaking of building around him, our very own Chris Celletti is spot on with his analysis of Tim Hardaway Jr, who looks ready to be a contributor immediately. If he can quickly turn into a capable wing scorer and knock down jump shooter, the young, talented, cheap supporting cast around Anthony looks a little stronger (pending they properly handle Iman Shumpert for the long haul). We know Mike Woodson loves his veterans but THJ has earned some regular season burn.
3. Hate to go to the Grantland well twice in the first three points but this sentence makes a ton of sense “Knicks fans who were upset with the trade this summer reserve their hate for James Dolan. Mostly, Andrea Bargnani is just a decent NBA player whom casual fans never really notice” – Bargnani has become far too polarizing among Knicks fans. This wasn’t an end of the world catastrophe and he isn’t going to be a franchise savoir. The endless warring over hopefully an adequate role player needs to settle down.
4. ESPN projected the Knicks at 37 wins, mostly because they knew it’d get a HUGE rise out of every Knicks fan on every social media channel everywhere. This is what they do to big market teams. It is why the Jets were #32 in their pre-season NFL Power Rankings. It is why Kobe Bryant was 25th in their NBA Rank. They create a story for the reaction and then report on the reaction. Barring an injury plagued catastrophe, anybody with a logical NBA mind knows the Knicks are much better than a 37 win team. Go look at the top 12 players on their roster.
5. I can’t tell if this is being a pessimist or a realist but I don’t see Amare Stoudemire having much of an impact at all this season. Between a mix of injuries and ineffectiveness, I don’t think he is even really a prominent rotation player down the stretch and into the playoffs.
6. Does anybody else feel that too much of the Knicks success this season will boil down to whether the Knicks get second half of last year’s regular season JR Smith or last year’s playoffs JR Smith? Unless, Iman Shumpert takes a major step on offense, the Knicks could be facing the same issues offensively which eliminated them last year.
7. Does anybody else have constant fear that Mike Woodson isn’t going to play Pablo Prigioni enough? PLAY THE MAN, MIKE! Seriously, the Knicks badly need him facilitating ball movement on offense and annoying ball handlers the length of the court on defense.
8. I’m not sure what most Knicks fans consider a successful regular season at this point. I’d find it hard to complain about 49-52 wins and a 4 or 5 seed. It just sort of feels inevitable that we are looking at a Knicks/Nets 4/5 first round match-up, doesn’t it? I’m more sold on Chicago and Indiana than many and think they will both be VERY good regular season teams and push Miami hard for the one seed.
9. I’m finding a way to keep Ike Diogu and Toure Murry as my 14th and 15th man this season and slamming my head on the table thinking of Chris Smith taking a roster spot potentially.
10. I think we are going to be somewhat disappointed in the Metta World Peace crazy department this season. Outside of many ill-advised jumpers and a few scary faces, I don’t think he is going to have some epic, TV smashing meltdown. Oh well.
11. I’m worried that Shump shaving the flat-top could be a bad omen for the season. If he starts out slow, he better be growing that thing back ASAP.
12. Stay healthy Tyson. For the sake of our defense not turning into an endless loop of a lay-up line, stay healthy.