The Knicks are back, but still not at their best. It’s a simple statement that various Knicks players and fans have said over the last 3 seasons. Two years ago, the Knicks were “back”, but the Knicks ended their season in a 4 game sweep in the 1st round against the Boston Celtics. This was after finally managing to make the playoffs for the first time in 7 years. In 2012, the season ended in another 1st round loss, this time in 5 games to the Miami Heat. The series was an embarrassing scene for a proud franchise, complete with confetti coming down from the ceiling at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the Knicks first playoff victory in 11 years.
This year, the Knicks are proving that they are finally back. They have finally put it all together with a spirited early season MVP type performance by Carmelo Anthony. They’ve also received outstanding play by veterans Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton. Specifically, Felton is quietly putting together an All-Star type campaign. The Knicks have started out the season undefeated at home and have two resounding victories over the defending champion Miami Heat.
As a New Yorker who struggled through the Knicks constant playoffs failures of the 1990’s, it’s difficult to be excited about regular season success. It’s simply not enough to satisfy the New York fan base who badly want to see the Knicks win their 1st title since 1973. As good as the Knicks have been this year, there are reasons to believe that the team can play even better.
The Knicks have yet to have two important members of last year’s team play this year in Iman Shumpert and Amare Stoudamire. Shumpert had an impressive rookie year last year and proved he is the team’s premiere backcourt defender. Shumpert’s return either as a starter or a 6th man opens up the possibilities to have Jason Kidd get more time on the bench to rest up for the playoffs. It also gives the Knicks more size in the backcourt and allows them to play one of the more dynamic defensive lineups in the league with both Shumpert and Tyson Chandler or Marcus Camby on the court at the same time.
Amare Stoudemire is more of a question mark as it’s still unclear whether he and Carmelo Anthony can perform to the best of their abilities with each other on the court at the same time. Regardless of that, Amare has expressed that he would be comfortable coming off the bench. This gives the Knicks the option of bringing a dynamic scorer off the bench as a 6th man. There’s also the possibility of trading Amare to bring in someone like Pau Gasol or another star.
With the reintegration of Shumpert and Stoudemire, the Knicks have a chance to be something special this season. Knicks fans can have hope that the team might finally be back to being a championship contender. The Knicks are playing extremely well, but they’re just scratching the surface of how good they can really be.
Thanks for visiting HoopsHabit.com! We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section below!
HoopsHabit’s Regular Column Schedule:
Monday – NBA Awards Watch
Wednesday – NBA Power Rankings
Friday – NBA Stat Central
Sunday – Your NBA Fix Podcast