So now that the Bulls and Magic will have drop-offs, the upgraded Knicks, with Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby and maybe a legit backup power forward, should move up in the East standings.
But where can they realistically finish, considering the Heat will be the No. 1 seed? The already lethal Heat will be more of a headache to deal with on offense because of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Defenses will have much more ground to cover quickly and efficiently with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade attacking.
As for the Knicks, where will they finish? Their main competitors will be the Celtics, Nets, Pacers, Raptors and Sixers, but defense, coupled with their star power and depth, should give them an advantage over at least the Raptors and Sixers.
Here's a breakdown of why these teams will be challenging, but how the Knicks can beat them:
Key transactions: re-signed Kevin Garnett and signed Jason Terry and Courtney Lee
Bottom line: Though they lost Ray Allen, they gained another top 3-point shooter in Jason Terry -- and they still have a Big Three in Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. Besides the Heat, the Knicks and Celtics are the most experienced teams in the East.
Where the Knicks will have an advantage is defensive depth once Iman Shumpert returns, likely in January. As Rondo goes, so do the Celtics in many ways, and the Knicks will eventually have plenty of defensive-minded guards to throw at Rondo. The combination of Chandler and Camby should make things more difficult for Garnett, the backbone of the team. In the past, the Celtics beat the Knicks on the boards (a lot of KG Brandon Bass and even Pierce), but that should change.
Key transactions: re-signed Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez, traded for Joe Johnson, and signed Reggie Evans and Mirza Teletovic
Bottom line: The Nets loaded up and now have arguably the best backcourt in the league (Williams and Johnson) and one of the top frontcourts (Humphries and Lopez). In addition, their role players round out the team nicely.
Considering all of the new pieces, their biggest question mark is: How are they all going to jell on the court? Also, what kind of season is Lopez going to have? Will he remain healthy? Will he become a better defender and rebounder? Humphries can't do it all himself inside. The Nets will have plenty of perimeter play (Williams, Johnson, Wallace and MarShon Brooks), so Lopez will have to step up. As of now, Chandler and Camby collectively win the center edge -- and Carmelo Anthony is better than anyone the Nets have on the perimeter. If he becomes a better playmaker this season, the Knicks' solid supporting cast will be even better. Overall, their defense will likely be the deciding factor against the Nets.
Key transactions: matched Roy Hibbert, and signed D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green
Bottom line: The Pacers are basically returning the same guys who gave the Heat some problems in the playoffs. They are not a speedy, blow-away team, but they know how to grind it out down low with Hibbert, David West and Tyler Hansbrough. They also have an all-purpose swingman in Danny Granger. While they lost Darren Collison to the Mavericks, they gained an equally good point guard in D.J. Augustin.
The Pacers will be able to match any Eastern Conference team toe-to-toe, but the Knicks have an advantage with Anthony in the clutch and better 3-point shooters (Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Jason Kidd).
Key transactions: traded for Andrew Bynum and Dorell Wright, and signed Nick Young and Kwame Brown
Bottom line: While Andre Iguodala wasn't a big-time scorer, he was the seasoned vet for the Sixers who did a little bit of everything for them. Who will fill that role now that Iguodala is in Denver? Evan Turner is the promising fill-in, but is he ready to be that complete player for the Sixers?
One thing's for sure is that their anchor down low is Bynum, the biggest upgrade for the Sixers, who also acquired the improved Brown. That's a formidable center duo. But the Sixers have several similar swingmen, and until Turner steps up and the other guys find their roles, the Sixers will play well in spurts early in the season. They do have potential, but right now the Knicks are better positioned to beat them. They simply have better role players in place.
The East's two dark horses to make a push for a middle seed are the Bucks and Raptors. The Bucks have a star backourt featuring Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, and they smartly re-signed Ersan Ilyasova, traded for Samuel Dalembert and drafted John Henson. Regarding the Raptors, in addition to Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, they picked up a stud, do-it-all point guard in Kyle Lowry to form an up-and-coming Big Three.
It's likely the Knicks could face either the Bucks or Raptors in the first round. From there, will their opponent in the semifinals be the Heat, Celtics, Nets, Pacers or Sixers?
With D-Rose and D-Howard falling off the East radar, the Knicks' ceiling is much higher this season -- and the second or third seed is in sight. They should want that, in order to gain home-court advantage and avoid the Heat until the conference finals.
The Knicks have been able to score in the last two seasons, finishing near the top of the league, but they haven't had enough defensive consistency. That should change next season, capitulating them in the standings.
I didn't even think of it that way. Howard is not in the East! That's great for us.
I don't know, this is shaping up pretty well for us.
I'm seeing some method to what I thought was the Home Office's madness.
What I now think is going is that Dolan and Crew recognized that Melo needed a little shoring up, some guidance so that he will mature into a championship player. So they went out and surrounded him with guys that will steer him in the right direction. This is all looking really good!! I might have to eat crow on the Melo-trade bashing, but let's see how the season unfolds.
With the way our roster is set, anything below 4th seed is a disappointment to me. I can even deal with the 5th seed but i draw the line their with all this talent we should be aiming from anywhere between 2-4th seed.
Amare is the X-Factor this season
Celtics, Pacers & Nets are our real competition
Celtics - Reloaded their roster, one the deepest teams in the NBA.. lets not forget they still got Rondo, pIerce and KG..& signing Terry eases the sting of losing Ray Allen....
PAcers- Impressive in the playoffs, should easily win the central division...another team that has reloaded their roster. Green, Mahimi and Dj are nice pickups for them.
Nets- The Nets being in New York alone and trying to take our throne of Kings of New york should be more than enough reasons to list them as our #1 competition this season, i'm looking forward to the Knicks&Brooklyn brawls.
Deron & Joe easily the best back court in the NBA. How good the Nets are going to be is still question mark until proven otherwise.
Howard and the magic as a whole were no threat to begin with.
They lacked continuity, consistency, and most importantly defense (sans D12). If memory serves me correct, it was during coach Wody's takeover that we throttled them giving fans a glimpse into what we are capable of.
As far as the front office goes, its hardly "madness" acquiring defensive oriented players and a hungry, misused, misunderstood, Felton.
These moves are consumate with the defensive montra consistent with Woody. The formula is simple... surround Melo with the best defensive players we could afford and gamplan to attack MIA.
All other teams are irrelevant at this point as far as we are concerned.
Kidd/Felton/Prigioni should be able to contain Chalmers/Cole
Shump/JR/Brewer should be able to contain Wade/Allen
Melo holds his own
STAT needs help and I suspect Camby will fill in, or Novak when we go small and need the stretch 4
Chandler = DPOY
This conventional approach rivals that of our previous dumb coach who would probably be thinking how he can play someone out-of-position to score more.
Well guess what? We have options including Melo @ the 4, Brewer @ the 3 etc...
We'll just wait to use it when necessary instead of purposely undermining ourselves... that was madness.
Imagine us going into the season with a Healthy Shumpert and legit back up 4.....were contenders but still a piece or 2 away
I'm good with the knicks they under performed last year due to having way to much drama around the team and getting injured at the wrong time. This year they added depth, the star players are improving their craft in the offseason, and they have the defensive pieces needed to shore up Melo and Amares weaknesses.
Yeah the Knicks lost Lin but hey the Rockets are going to suck so we get that Schadenfreude. Also a stack Atlantic division means better games all season. Lastly Shump Da God will be back by the playoffs.... This is as good as it been in a long time.
We have depth at center which with dwight in LA and the Heat having no depth at all will be crucial. Also no one is giving any credit to the coaching change. Woodson is going to have the knicks playing a lot better throughout the whole season.
notice how espn's take of how good we are is not based on our own merrits, but how other teams did this past offseason. they still think we suck
"The Nets loaded up and now have arguably the best backcourt in the league (Williams and Johnson) and one of the top frontcourts (Humphries and Lopez)"
This sentence above is when I stopped reading. I cannot swallow this as analysis.
It was scary .. the Nets not nabbing Dwight Howard this offseason was a big relief .. Boston & Philly are just as decent as the Nets .. but Nets, Philly, and Boston are not going to stand in the Knicks way of winning the Atlantic Division Championship.
I like coach Woodson method in Atlanta of running a 9 to 11 man rotation during the regular season to keep players healthy and far from injuries .. which make Woodson the man to have as our headcoach with all the veteran experience players we added this offseason.
The addition of Kurt Thomas - Kidd - Brewer will be our complimentary same-page leadership players.
I keep reading all these reports and they are underestimating our off season and I think in large part people keep sweatin us letting Lin walk and are ignoring the good things The Knicks did do this off season.
Lets look at what killed us last year
1.Consistient PG play: Lin played just 25 games, BD about the same, Toney Douglas flopped and Mike Bibby could not crack the rotation despite all of these factors showing how far his game had fallen off!
Off Season: Let Lin go (not going to argue that now) but brought in 2 players who could start in The NBA plus a interesting 3rd string PG.
2.Lack of Chemistry w Stat and Melo:
Not to put too much stock in us picking up Jason Kidd but his expereince and leadership along with Tyson and Woody will hopefully be what gets these two to jell.
Off Season: Brought in top 5 NBA PG who is going to be a player coach for us, plus Knick legend Camby who will help with handling pressure (a concern I address later on)
we actually became the most effecient defensive team in The League after Woody took over but as a whole we sucked on Defense last year! Tyson was Tyson,Shump was Shump, JR surprised my with how good he was but still we lacked defensive continuity!
Offseason:Kidd,Felton,Camby,Brewer are all better than solid defenders at their positions.
I loved this offseason we addressed needs with under the radar moves instead of big splashes! I think we are going to be much improved next year.
Potential Problems I see heading into next year
1.Lack of shooting.
For me classic case of grass being greener on other side of the fence. Back when we had shooters like Gallo,Wilson and Shawne Williams I would just wish we could trade them in for a team of equally good defenders...now that appears to be the case!
I guess the reality is you need both, but I would still choose defense over shooters! Yet and still our favorite teams from the 90's all had great shooting (Starks,Hubert Davis and of course Houston).
Basically whoever is starting for us at SG is just keeping the seat warm for Shump...but when Shump returns we are crowded at the SG position (I have experienced this a lot w/ my 2k Knicks team). Assuming we do not add another player this off season Brewer can backup Melo at the SF and Novak backup 4....but I really do not like that much! I'd rather a better backup 4 than Novak and letting Steve play backup 4 in spirts. Which in that case means someone is not gonna get the minutes next year when Shump returns! JR won't sit quietly and Novak is making 4 million next year so they are both playing thus Brewer possibly going from starting SG to out of the rotation when Shump fully recovers.
Woody showed a lot of poise in the job he did last year to coach knowing coaches like Sloan and Jackson were waiting in the wing...yet how much was it a nothing to lose sort of approach? Woody was put in a situation last year that even if he flopped no one would've blamed him and a playoff birth would have been heroic....now what I loved about Woody is that he went on as good a run any coach has had since Van Gundy, he took us from 4 under .500 to plus 6 in a month! Can he sustain it for an entire season?
Amare looks great this off season! His focus reminds me of 2010 and I think the results will be the same (see my Stat will dominate thread). But will he try too hard to prove he is the same player? Stat embraced the pressue when frankly Lebron did not want it to be a NY Knick and he responded well beyond expectation! But the stakes are a bit higher now
Melo now has to embrace that mob assult Lebron faced for the past couple years about not having a title. Durant is The NBAs darling plus has less years in The League than Melo so it will be Melo who gets this pressure on him. Like Stat will Melo try too hard to prove doubters wrong?
Felton was an under the radar type signing 2 years ago who surprised most of us (because who the hell watched Charlotte even when they did make the playoffs) but now he has to fill in Lin's barely worn but highly noted shoes! He bounced back 2 years ago from a rough start to win over NY fans but it will not be as easy this go around for some who will be crying for Lin until his contract runs out in Houston!