Culture of Hoops

2013-14 NBA Season Preview: New York Knicks

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Most Important Player: Carmelo Anthony
If he plays as well as he did last year, the New York Knicks are a legitimate threat to knock off the Miami Heat. He’s that good. Of course, that all goes out the window if he isn’t 100 percent come April. As we saw from last year’s playoffs, any injury to the league leader in usage rate could end the Knicks season in a hurry.

X-Factor: Andrea Bargnani
The Knicks offense will be downright scary if he returns to form. New York would have three legitimate scoring threats off the bench, and his ability to spread the floor would make Tyson Chandler that much more dangerous off the pick-and-roll. Then again, if he’s awful, don’t be surprised to see Dolan force an ill-advised panic trade at the deadline.

Rotations: Given how well the two-point-guard lineups played last season, Woodson will most likely go with a starting five of Felton, Prigioni, Shumpert, Carmelo and Chandler. After J.R. comes in for Pablo, expect Udrih to spell Felton, with Metta checking in for Shump and taking Melo’s man on defense. It remains unclear how much Amar’e and Bargnani are going to play at the 5, but whether they’re there or at the 4, expect K-Mart or Tyson to cover for their defensive lapses. Woodson’s bias against rookies is well-documented, so don’t count on seeing too much of Tim Hardaway, Jr.

What Needs To Go Right: Seeing as how there are four other teams that could reasonably be expected to come out of the Eastern Conference, everything. Bargnani needs to bring his A-game, good J.R. needs to overpower bad J.R., Carmelo needs to be dominant, Tyson needs to return to Defensive Player of the Year form, and Shump must, simply, be Shump.

It’s Really Bad If: Raymond Felton gets injured. He may not be the most valuable player on the team, but when he missed significant time last year, the offense completely fell apart. Udrih will no doubt be a valuable backup, but until he shows that he can run the offense on a day-to-day basis, Felton becomes that much more important.

Bold Prediction: The Knicks tune out all the five-seed talk and finish behind Miami and Indiana for a respectable three-seed. They will avenge last season’s elimination to the Pacers and square off against Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.


Carmelo Anthony, SF
Strengths: Best scorer in basketball, clutch.
Weaknesses: Ball stopper, gets lazy on defense.
Season Prediction: Melo will lose the scoring title to Kevin Durant, but thanks to improvements in his all around game he will be a legitimate contender for the league’s MVP award.

Andrea Bargnani, PF
Strengths: Spreading the floor, making Clyde say “Barn-yarn-ee.”
Weaknesses: Defense, rebounding.
Season Prediction: Spared of his obligations as a number one option, Bargnani settles into his role with the Knicks and returns to form. Will have at least one 30-point game.

Tyson Chandler, C
Strengths: Defense, rebounding, pick-and-roll finishing.
Weaknesses: Limited offensive game, injury prone, cannot dribble.
Season Prediction: Tyson adds a short jumper to his game and helps to open up the offense. He won’t win the Defensive Player Of The Year Award, but he will make the All-Defensive first team.

Raymond Felton, PG
Strengths: Low turnover rate, deceptively quick, gets to the hoop.
Weaknesses:  Can’t defend elite point guards, mediocre shooter.
Season Prediction: Raymond Felton will prove that last year was no fluke and take his game to an even higher level. He will set a league record for most alley-oops thrown in a single game.

Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG
Strengths: Three-point shooting, explosive at the rim.
Weaknesses: Shot selection, ball handling.
Season Prediction: “Har-da-way” will become MSG’s go-to chant when the Knicks have a big lead. Tim Jr. won’t play much, but he’ll have his best game of the season against the Miami Heat.

C.J. Leslie, SF/PF
Strengths: Finishes at the rim, can play off the ball.
Weaknesses: Questionable work ethic, Leslie is a girl’s name.
Season Prediction: Appears in less than ten games, but scores 15 points in garbage time against the Phoenix Suns.

Kenyon Martin, PF
Strengths: Rebounding, defense, physicality.
Weaknesses: One-dimensional offensively, can’t contain East’s elite centers.
Season Prediction: K-Mart will continue to anchor the Knicks defense when Chandler is on the bench. He will finish second to Tyson in alley-oop finishes.

Pablo Prigioni, PG
Strengths: Creative passing, three-point shooting, sneaky defense.
Weaknesses: Undersized, reluctant to shoot, is old.
Season Prediction: Pablo starts consistently and continues to endear himself to Knicks fans with his smart, unselfish play. He will become the oldest player to lead the rookie-sophomore game in assists.

Iman Shumpert, SG
Strengths: Defense, freakish athleticism.
Weaknesses: Undefined offensive role, finishing at the rim.
Season Prediction: With his first full NBA offseason under his belt, Iman gets hot right out of the gate. He will emerge as a legitimate scoring threat from three and off the dribble.

J.R. Smith, SG
Strengths: Instant offense, able defender, not afraid to keep shooting.
Weaknesses: Streaky, mental lapses, not afraid to keep shooting.
Season Prediction: J.R. makes a full recovery from his knee injury and wins his second consecutive sixth man award. Answers the critics by dominating in the playoffs.

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF
Strengths: Solid jumper, scores in the post, draws fouls.
Weaknesses: Injury prone, suspect defense.
Season Prediction: Amar’e finally manages to play a full season, albeit in a reduced role. He will make the most of his 20 minutes per game and be among the team’s top scorers.

Jeremy Tyler, C
Strengths: Rebounding, moves well for his size.
Weaknesses: Still raw, alleged head case.
Season Prediction: Barely sees any action, but makes one ridiculous block that cracks SportsCenter’s Top 10.

Beno Udrih, PG
Strengths: Well-rounded offensively, doesn’t turn it over.
Weaknesses: Defense, inconsistent from three.
Season Prediction: He will replace Steve Novak as J.R. Smith’s favorite guy to play with.

Metta World Peace, SF
Strengths: Defense, physicality, versatility.
Weaknesses: Questionable decision making, confirmed head case.
Season Prediction: Metta’s jersey sales will be second only to Carmelo Anthony. He will punch someone in the face.

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