New York Knicks: Why They Aren't Serious NBA Finals Contenders

Recently, the New York Knicks have had zero success in the playoffs. However, a surprisingly strong regular season start and a surprisingly strong showing from Carmelo Anthony has Knicks fans optimistic about the future.

New York is 21-9 and thriving behind Carmelo, who leads the league in scoring. He has turned it on this year, possibly playing better because of the absence of Amar’e Stoudemire, who has struggled to co-exist with Anthony. But whatever the reason, the Knicks are succeeding.

Anthony is averaging 28.5 points per game (good for second in the league) and easily toppling his career averages in shooting percentage, scoring, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage. He’s not rebounding or passing as well and he will probably regress soon. When Stoudemire comes back, it will cause problems, and if the Knicks choose to hold on to him and avoid trading him, it could wreck the team.

Jeremy Lin was great for the team last year, but he was never respected by Anthony. Concerns about the small forward’s attitude come up often, and his attitude has brought the Knicks backward. They are playing well now, but Anthony has the ability to destroy the team with his attitude, even if he does dominate on the court.

Jason Kidd was supposed to help run the offense, and he isn’t doing horribly. But he is averaging only 4.2 assists and nine points a game, not exactly what the Knicks expected out of him (especially considering that he is playing well over half the game). He’s aging and the clock is ticking, and even his experience won’t be enough to help the Knicks significantly.

Raymond Felton is averaging more than 15 points and six assists per game, but he is by no means elite. The Knicks aren’t getting much from the point guard position, and in fact, they are one of the worst passing teams in the league with about 20 assists per game (26th out of 30 teams). They are also tied for 27th in rebounds and that will get them nowhere. When they lost to the Lakers, Dwight Howard owned them on the boards and won the game for the Lakers. If that problem isn’t cleaned up, the Knicks will get owned in the playoffs.

Stoudemire will be back today, as Bleacher Report’s Tim Keeney wrote. While Stoudemire is a great player who can help New York a bit down low, chemistry will be a problem, especially since the Knicks aren’t performing horribly without him. If he can gel with the team, it will help, but the Knicks will still have problems down low and the possibility of title-killing chemistry issues.

You may say that Tyson Chandler, who started for the U.S Olympic team, could solve the problems, but he really isn’t anything special at center, and his biggest talent is defense. The Knicks are lacking an intimidating presence down low, and Stoudemire might be that guy. But it comes at a cost. Anthony is having a career year without Stoudemire, and risking Anthony’s production isn’t worth it. Even with Stoudemire, the Knicks will still be a below-average rebounding team.

Statistics-wise, the Knicks don’t look all that good. And, they really aren’t. Without Anthony, they are nothing, and with Stoudemire, they will only go downwards. Anthony missed games against Western Conference weaklings Phoenix and Sacramento, and the Knicks barely beat the Suns before falling to the Kings.

The team is significantly better with Anthony, but they can’t count on only him. Unlike other contenders like the Heat and Thunder, the Knicks are not a complete team. J.R Smith is nothing special at shooting guard, and the Knicks lack a good power forward. They are doing well right now, but a team like this won’t get very far in the playoffs.

New York has also struggled mightily in the playoffs recently, as they have a record of 1-8 in the playoffs in the last two years. They don’t have experience as a team, as Kidd and Chandler won’t be able to guide the Knicks through the playoffs. It will take some great basketball and a lot of improvement to even get to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Knicks are definitely a capable, talented team, but I don’t see them winning anything more than one playoff series. The locker room could explode at any time with Anthony and Stoudemire, and the lack of elite rebounding, defense (14th in opponents points scored), and passing should doom the Knicks well before the NBA Finals. It’s never good to let one player take over the whole team, and that is what’s happening with the Knicks.

And if it keeps happening, the Knicks will not go anywhere this year.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire Carmelo Anthony NBA New York Knicks Tyson Chandler

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