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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  • Christopher

    I respectfully disagree with your overall opinion. I will agree with the lack of rebounding and assists being an issue with my Knicks team. I also agree with your point regarding the lack of interior defense. However, I do believe that the Knicks problems with rebounding and interior defense can be solved with players that are on the team. Pairing Tyson Chandler with another big on the team (Camby, Wallace, Stoudamire,) will allow for both better interior defense and rebounding. The reason why Tyson is not defending at an elite level is because he is left to cover up for other players when they get beaten off the dribble, something which happens to every team in the NBA.

    But notice when Camby started in the second half vs. the Trailblazers, and subsequently started the game vs. The San Antonio Spurs: The rebounding and defense were above board. Also, even when the Knicks were struggling with their interior defense, it was usually a first half malaise (that is not an excuse though, just an example). The Knicks are the 3rd best scoring defensive team in the NBA in the 2nd half of games. One half too late mind you, but the ability is there. So if they can do it in the second half of games…they can do it in the first half of games as well.

    You say that the Knicks without Anthony, “are nothing.” I do believe the Knicks are 3-3 without Carmelo Anthony this season. Not blowing the doors off the NBA, but I wouldn’t say they are ‘nothing.’

    Why no mention of Iman Shumpert? Certainly you would have to think that his perimeter defense will have a sizable impact on this team.

    Jason Kidd was not originally brought here to help run the offense, but I do believe that he and Felton are doing a good job considering the Knicks are one of the top scoring teams as well as being one of the most efficient. Kidd was signed here to be a mentor to Lin (don’t forget that Kidd was signed before Lin was officially a Rocket), and be the backup PG. But Lin going to the Rockets forced the Knicks to change the way they’d use Kidd. When they signed Raymond Felton, the Knicks were getting someone they could pair alongside Kidd…with Kidd as the SG and Felton as the point. Now you mentioned how Kidd is only averaging 9 points and 4 assists, but Kidd brings more than that to the Knicks. He adds savvy, intelligence, and he commands the respect of the players in the locker room. His value is more than statistics can measure.

    But since you mentioned statistics in your article, please allow me to do so as well. Kidd, and the Knicks get plenty of steals, 1.86 & 8.72 per game respectively. Both are top 10 in the NBA. Not only that, the Knicks also don’t turn the ball over very much, leading the NBA with only 11.06 turnovers per game. So for every 11 turnovers, the Knicks will have about 8 or 9 possessions back JUST FROM STEALS ALONE. The Knicks lead the NBA in turnover differential at -4.50. Those extra possessions, wherever they may come from, help (somewhat) to negate those rebounds we don’t get.

    “JR Smith is nothing at shooting guard.” Really?? Really? Smith is tied for the lead in NBA bench scoring with Jamal Crawford from the Clippers at 16.6 points per game. Add in 5 rebounds and a little over 1 steal per game and I believe you have more than nothing. In fact, in his last ten games Smith is averaging 22.5 points per game with 6 rebounds. A little more than nothing I would say.

    Oh no…not done yet. You bring up the Knicks 1-8 playoff record in the previous two seasons, a point brought up by many a Knick detractor. My retort to you, and those other detractors who’ll listen, is that those Knicks teams are COMPLETELY different teams than this current team. Of the 15 man roster from the 2012 playoff team, only 6 players remain on the current roster: Novak, Smith, Chandler, Anthony, Stoudamire, Shumpert. Only 2 remain from the 2011 playoff roster: Stoudemire & Anthony. Not to mention the Knicks have a different coach are currently establishing a winning formula. The point is: the previous two Knicks teams were severely flawed teams who were not going to seriously challenge anyone in the NBA playoffs (as was shown). This Knick team isn’t either of those two teams.

    It seems that you have a bias against the Knicks. Am I right? If so please state it for the record please.

    Thank you for your time and have a nice day.

    • Baily Deeter

      Thank you for commenting and not just bringing up the things that you disagree with in the article. You have a point about Camby, but I have concerns about his age and durability. I’m pretty sure I said Smith is nothing special, and he’s not elite, even if he is a decent player and a sharpshooter. I should have mentioned Shumpert, but I’m not sure he can heal the wound. Kidd is still a pass-first player and a shooting threat, so his numbers are somewhat disappointing.

      I see what you mean about their 1-8 playoff record, but Anthony and Stoudemire are the best players, and they were on the team, as well as Chandler. This team is different, but still similar. I don’t have a bias against the Knicks, but I just don’t think they are legit contenders. Thanks for commenting!