2014-15 NBA SEASON PREVIEW CONTENT LIST
Atlantic: Celtics | Nets | Knicks | 76ers | Raptors |Division Preview
Central: Bulls | Cavaliers | Pistons | Pacers | Bucks | Division Preview
Southeast: Hawks | Hornets | Heat | Magic | Wizards | Division Preview
Pacific: Warriors | Clippers | Lakers | Suns | Kings | Division Preview
Northwest: Nuggets | Timberwolves | Thunder | Trail Blazers | Jazz | Division Preview
Southwest: Mavericks | Rockets | Grizzlies | Pelicans | Spurs | Division Preview
Articles: Assessing the Cavaliers Trio | Important Season for James Harden | Return of Paul George? | Trading Rajon Rondo | Are the Nuggets This Season’s Suns? | NBA’s Best Starting Five | NBA’s Worst Starting Five | Now or Never for Durant and Thunder After Injury
Fantasy Basketball: Top 10 PGs | Top 10 SGs | Top 10 SFs | Top 10 PFs | Top 10 Cs | Sleepers, Studs, and Sinkholes | Analyzing the Schedule | BMF Mock Draft | Cavs and Cav-Nots | Like A Bosh | Rajon Injury Impact
Most Important Player: Carmelo Anthony
He’s an All-Star, All-NBA, All-World, so he’s obviously the most important player for the New York Knicks. Last season was one to forget, yet Melo had arguably his best overall season so far as a pro. He’s in his prime and has taken the responsibility of putting this storied franchise on his back and returning the Knickerbockers to prominence. The New York native, fresh off a new contract, new coach, and new upper management, has nothing but space and opportunity to be the hero that he wants to be. He obviously can’t do it all himself, and will need all the help he can get, but it’s up to Melo to set the tone and lead his troops to victory.
X-Factor: Amar’e Stoudemire
This spot could be anybody from Stat to J.R. Smith, to dare I say, Andrea Bargnani. Fact is the Knicks need a reliable scoring option to complement Anthony. Stoudemire has shown that he could be that option. Granted he has been sporadic due to his on-and-off injury recovery, but with a full summer to rehab, Stat may be in the best shape he’s been in since first coming to the Knicks. He has one of the finer post games in the league and he finishes around the basket. His midrange jumper hits with regularity and his “I just dunked on you/silent scream face” should have its own Instagram handle. Look for Stat to be in the groove for the whole season this year, not just in bits and pieces.
PG – Jose Calderon – Solid outside shooter that will fit in the triangle. Defensive issues.
SG – J.R. Smith – Either one of the best shooters in the game or just shooting himself in the foot.
SF – Carmelo Anthony – MVP caliber. Has to trust the team and the system.
PF – Amar’e Stoudemire – Please, knees, please!
C – Samuel Dalembert – Big Sam. True professional that will bring veteran leadership, toughness, and defense.
Aside from Old Man Pablo, the bench is fairly young, but there is talent. Prigi is the savvy vet. Travis Outlaw and Quincy Acy bring some depth and rebounding. Hardaway is a proven shooter. Shumpert is a defensive stopper and poised for a bounce-back season. Shane Larkin is small but has potential to run a team. Aldrich is slightly underrated and rookie Clean Tony (Early) may be the steal of the draft. Don’t talk to me about Andrea Bargnani.
What Needs to Go Right: Everything … just kidding. No really, everything. Seriously though, after the abominable season that was 2013-14, the Knicks decided to do an overhaul, new system in, old system out. The team itself has changed a little and I think for the better. If the Knicks want to reverse the damage of last season’s debacle then everyone is going to have to buy into the Phil Jackson ways of Zen basketball. The triangle offense has been proven to win championships so I don’t see that as being a problem. What needs a drastic overhaul is the defensive mindset of the team. There hasn’t been one, that’s the problem. That has to change immediately. No more switching/matador defense. Without anchor Tyson Chandler, traded to the Dallas Mavericks, the Knicks will have to find that lost defensive intensity elsewhere. Also, the fact that Derek Fisher is new to the coaching game brings up the issue of players respecting his authority. However, he carries himself with an air of professionalism and seems like a guy to command that respect. Five championship rings on your fingers also have a way of getting players to listen to what you have to say. For the Knicks to succeed everyone needs to be on the same page and embrace their role in the new system. They need to find their inner Zen. Namaste.
It’s Really Bad If: J.R. Smith gets distracted. If Iman Shumpert forgets how to play basketball. If Melo thinks he’s playing one-on-five. If Stat’s knees start acting funny. If that mysterious switching defense comes back. If Derek Fisher doesn’t get the respect from his players. If the Knicks don’t embrace the triangle offense. If Andrea Bargnani is depended on to play defense or grab rebounds. Basically, if last season happens again.
Bold Prediction: The Knicks get it right. The triangle offense is going to be a hit in the Big Apple. Carmelo Anthony averages 27.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5.7 assists a game and gets legitimate MVP consideration. Derek Fisher is going to have the respect of his players, fans, and the league, reflected in his consideration for Coach of the Year. Phil Jackson is going to right the ship that is the New York Knicks. The team wins the Atlantic Division and faces the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Quincy Acy, F
Strengths: High motor, toughness.
Weaknesses: Limited offense, undersized.
Season Prediction: Brought in for cap-clearing purposes. Could earn minutes based on hustle alone.
Cole Aldrich, C
Strengths: Good size, solid rebounder.
Weaknesses: Quickness (lack thereof), lack of athleticism leads to cheap fouls.
Season Prediction: Under the radar, but he’s a really solid rebounder and can block a few shots. Hopefully he gets more minutes than Bargnani.
Carmelo Anthony, F
Strengths: Elite scorer, unlimited range, underestimated rebounder.
Weaknesses: Ball stopper, sometimes disengaged on defense.
Season Prediction: System change will benefit Carmelo the most. Will facilitate more and get teammates involved. MVP season.
Andrea Bargnani, F/C
Strengths: Big man with three-point range, capable scorer.
Weaknesses: Inept defender, allergic to rebounds.
Season Prediction: Big men with an outside shot can thrive in the triangle offense. He can benefit. He’s still nervous of rebounds.
Jose Calderon, G
Strengths: Poised floor leader, great three-point shooter.
Weaknesses: Defense, lack of speed with be a problem against speedy point guards.
Season Prediction: Calderon will start, knock down open threes, and take care of the ball. And get burned on defense.
Samuel Dalembert, C
Strengths: Veteran leadership, tough interior defender, solid rebounder.
Weaknesses: Age, not much range on jump shot, limited offensive repertoire.
Season Prediction: Dalembert was a good pick. Will fill in for the loss of Tyson Chandler. Good locker room guy.
Cleanthony Early, F
Strengths: Solid offensive player, athletic, great potential.
Weaknesses: May need to adjust to speed of NBA game, defense.
Season Prediction: As the season goes on Early will earn more playing time. All-Rookie third team.
Tim Hardaway Jr., G
Strengths: Deadly shooter, high flyer, good IQ.
Weaknesses: Perimeter defense.
Season Prediction: Will play an important role off the bench. May compete for starting spot. Will average 13+ ppg this season.
Shane Larkin, G
Strengths: Solid decision maker, great ball handler/passer.
Weaknesses: Undersized, may have trouble guarding stronger point guards.
Season Prediction: The point guard position is competitive. Larkin will fit great with the second unit.
Travis Outlaw, F
Strengths: Veteran, capable distance shooter.
Weaknesses: Age, defense, rebounding.
Season Prediction: He’ll play a few minutes. Won’t have significant impact on season.
Pablo Prigioni, G
Strengths: Floor leadership, pesky defender, excellent three-point shooter.
Weaknesses: Not fast enough to keep up with quick point guards, Father Time is a knocking.
Season Prediction: The valiant warrior will play important minutes but this may be his swan song.
Iman Shumpert, G/F
Strengths: Excellent defender, high energy, super athlete, fiery competitor.
Weaknesses: Streaky offense, focus, emotions run high.
Season Prediction: Shumpert focuses on perfecting his defense and makes an All-Defense team. Offense gets refined. Very productive season.
Jason Smith, C
Strengths: Good size, solid rebounder, good toughness.
Weaknesses: Not very athletic, lacks quickness.
Season Prediction: His rebounding will be helpful and so will his size.
Amar’e Stoudemire, F/C
Strengths: Excellent low post scorer, great outside touch, strong finisher.
Weaknesses: Health concerns, timing, defense.
Season Prediction: Stat will have more prominent role in the offense. Number two scorer on team. Returns to All-Star form.