There is reason for optimism for our Knicks. The time for rebuilding, tweaking, trading and changing is over. The time to win is NOW. There has finally been a bit of continuity over last year or so. It's time to step up and these player are ready. Here is a break down of why you should be hopeful for a great Knicks season:
Melo is coming off of an amazing period of time since the end of last march. April was an amazing month for Melo who battled mostly alone against the Heat to get us 1 win against the chumps. Following the season Melo was put on a mission to come back more fit and basketball ready then ever.
During this time he happened to grab up a gold medal in London Olympics and look like a new player while doing it. Setting new records in the Olympics he lead the team in scoring to bring the gold home to USA. Melo played positions 2-5 while proving himself a more versatile scorer then any one knew. His athleticism, shooting percentage, shot selection and passing vision all seemed to take a step to the next level. Granted this was on a team with superstar talent With players he could "trust" as teammates Melo shared the ball more and with better efficiency. He "let the game come to him".
But are the Knicks built much differently? With players at positions 1 though 5 with experience, talent, skills and hustle Melo has a team around him that can make the right play. On offense we have Kidd and Felton running the point. Both of these players are experienced vets with plenty left in the tank. Kidd is battle tested and ready to step his game up. Felton is playing with a chip on his shoulder after being labeled a bust and a "D'antoni product". He has had success in the big city before and should shine under the bright lights again. His conditioning and skills work have paid off and he entered camp and the preseason in shape and ready to
Tyson is Tyson. A consistent source of defensive mindfulness, the greatest thing about Tyson is that you know exactly what you are going to get from him. He quarterbacks the defense in a way like the best PG's orchestrate offense's. Placing players on their assignments, while shutting down big's in the post and helping on drives to the lane. He can defend the 2 to 5 positions and is quick and long enough to get steals and help blocks from anywhere near the key. On offense his rebounding skills and put back baskets give us an edge on the glass. This allows Melo and our shooters the comfort of knowing that there is a mismatch downlow fighting for your rebound.
Tyson and Melo played on the olympic team together, providing them with a great chance to get their chemistry right. I suspect that the floor spacing issue is worked out between them and I expect to see more 2 man game from 2 of the best big men in the league.
Amar'e is out injured but has worked himself into a potential beast for us this season. The major concern has to be his knees. After succesful surgery his rehab will be scrutinized and many hands will be wrung over his progress. Amar'e has a lot of heart and no one wants to be out there now more then him. His work in the offseason was to set us up for a great year. However when he does return he will have a plethora of new skills to show us. His extensive 1 on 1 work with hakeem was reinforced by a visit from hakeem to knicks training camp. Amar'e takes some of the scoring burden off of Melo and will help take the team to a different level when he returns.
JR Smith comes into the season hoping to prove himself a starter. His opportunity is now as our 2 guard rotation is pretty light and we will see plenty of J.Kidd at the position. JR is ready to prove himself on the biggest stage and comes into the season with something to prove. He is motivated and hungry. weather we starve him on the bench and let him eat defenses alive as a 6th man scorer, or put him on the floor as a 2nd scoring threat on the floor behind Melo as a starter we have a player who IS starting level talent (see James Harden comparisons).
On the bench we have:
Ronnie Brewer: a defensive specialist that Woody has nothing but praise for.
Marcus Camby: a defenisive and rebounding specialist who can shoot and pass.
Kurt Thomas: a veteran post player that can knock down the open shot and provide the savy defense that frustrates smaller opponents.
Pigroni: After watching him in the preseason we have a potential spark off the bench who can provide adequate PG direction and give valuable rest minutes to Kidd and Felton.
Copeland: an offensive spark off the bench that can drive, shoot, pass and run the floor well. He's a bit of a defensive bust but coach Woodson's guidance and this team his deficiencies should be more then made up for.
Rasheed: A veteran big that can drain the 3 ball and defend PF's like no body's business.
Iman Shumpert: Shump will come back in the new year with a better shot then ever. I've been following his progress and rehab and he has spent his time mostly working on his shot mechanics and release. As a defensive specialist he is fantastic. if he can add in a deadly jumper we have a great 2 guard who can do it all.
Novak: 3 point shooter who's been working on his game and hopes to bring more to the table this year. His Discount Tripple Check will be in full effect. Lets try to keep a tally and see how many he throws up this year.
James White: The guy can dunk. Looking forward to his garbage time minutes as he will surly throw down some amazing dunks on the fast break.
All of these players put together is better then any NBA team Melo has played on. How this translates against the competition, in particular the Heat, remains to be seen. The heat's big three are nearly indefensible and attack in a vicious and unrelenting manner that any team with a fragile psyche will be dominated. The knicks are built with that toughness in mind. It will be a case of an immovable object meeting a unstoppable force and the fireworks from that will keep everyone entertained.