FanPost

Touring the Eastern Conference, Volume III: New York Knicks

The next stop on our tour takes us to the World's Most Famous Arena. Take the jump & we'll reacquaint ourselves with the New York Knicks.

How'd the guys from Madison Square Garden do last year? Let's get into it:

2011-2012

Record

Offensive Efficiency

Defensive Efficiency

Offensive Rebounding %

Turnover Rate

Free Throw rate

Effective FG%

Opponent eFG%

New York

36-30 101.4 98.4 26.65 14.85 30.6 49.18 48.45

League Average

____

101.8

101.8

26.93

13.77

27.7

48.7

48.7

It doesn't play with the perception of Mike D'Antoni teams, but the Knicks were good defensively before the changeover in late February. I'm serious, they got good results. In the article, Tom Ziller makes an interesting observation:

In all, the Knicks have allowed teams to outstrip their usual performance by about one point per 100 possessions. Assuming New York's ends up playing an average schedule and this keeps up, the Knicks would finish the season around No. 17 or 18 in the league in defense. Much of that current No. 10 ranking is the smoke and mirrors of a weak schedule. The somewhat good news is that the Knicks have only had one really poor defensive showing in the last eight games, and that the team's very worst nights on that end largely happened in the season's first two weeks. Progress, we hope ... though everything we know about Melo, Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni indicates that the club will be average at best on that end.

And as it turned out, the Knicks finished well past 10th in defense. In fact, they were a Top Five defense in the NBA last year. That Top Five mark in defensive efficiency is even more impressive when you take into account the fact that New York was 21st in defensive efficiency the season prior.

What areas did New York improve in? The addition of Tyson Chandler helped improve their interior defense and rebounding. As a team, New York grabbed 74% of all defensive rebounds, which was a step up from 71% the season before. The 71% was the fifth worst in the NBA in 10-11, which was probably a contributing factor to their allowing opponents to shoot an eFG% of 51.09%. With Chandler in tow, NYK opponents shot an eFG% of 48.45, which was a little below league average. He also helped their at the rim defense, as teams took fewer shots at the rim than the year before.

But NY's greatest strength on defense was their ability to generate turnovers. They were the second best in the league at getting the opponent to turn the ball over, forcing one almost 16% of the time. A lot of that was due to Iman Shumpert's perimeter defense, as he got 2 steals a game, which was good for sixth best in the NBA.

The offense took a major nosedive from the year before, and I believe the reasons for that are easily identifiable. One thing we have to mention is the effects of the lockout. The season was only 66 games long, but the games came in bunches as the league tried to get as many games in as humanly possible. And because of that, offenses struggled. There was a decrease in offensive efficiency and True Shooting percentages as the teams (for the most part) struggled with the hectic schedule.

The change from D'Antoni to Woodson was huge, but I think the amount of games missed by players who were (& thought to be) key contributors on offense had an even bigger impact. Take a look at the amount of games missed by their key players:

Carmelo Anthony - 11

Amare Stoudemire - 19

Jeremy Lin - 17 (note: I'm only including the period from when he started getting consistent playing time)

Baron Davis - 37

The shortened schedule combined with the missing games from their best offensive players meant that they had a tough time performing consistently on the offensive end.

After we account for those factors above, why did the offense drop off? Even though they employed the league's best three point shooter in Steve Novak, NY only shot 33.6% from deep, which was good for 21st best. They still got their looks, but for most of the year, they didn't have a good three point shooter to go with Novak. And to cycle back to the injury point from above, when you're missing Carmelo, games like this are bound to happen.

Another area that New York struggled in was the midrange game. Generally speaking, I hate when teams take an excess amount of shots from 16-23 feet (I'm looking at you, Philadelphia). But New York is generally acceptable from this area, as they shot 39% from this range in 2010-2011. They only shot 36% from 16+ in 2011-2012, but I think there's a specific reason as to their drop-off, which I'll get to a little later.

Key additions: Jason Kidd (acquired via free agency), Marcus Camby (acquired via sign & trade from the Houston Rockets), Kurt Thomas (acquired via trade from the Portland TrailBlazers), Raymond Felton (acquired via sign & trade from the Portland TrailBlazers), Rasheed Wallace (acquired via free agency)

Key departures: Jeremy Lin (signed with the Houston Rockets), Jared Jeffries (traded to Portland), Landry Fields (signed with the Toronto Raptors) Josh Harrelson (traded to Houston; later signed with the Miami Heat), Toney Douglas (traded to Houston)

The roster as presently constituted

Now that we've taken an overview of how the team did as a whole, let's discuss the players expected to contribute to New York this season.

**********************

Starting Point Guard:

20120314_jrc_aw8_107

From SB Nation New York

Metric

Raymond Felton 2011-2012

Point guards in 2011-2012

Felton's career

Minutes per Game

31.8

23

34.8

True Shooting %

49.1

52.4

49.8

Assist rate

45.06

38.1

50.57

Rebound rate

4.6

5.9

5.7

Turnover rate

19.6

17.8

16.4

Usage rate

20.8

20.94

21.1

Player Efficiency Rating

13.4

13.48

14.4

Win Shares per 48

.042

.100

.067

Wins Produced per 48

.045

.099

.075

I've always felt Raymond Felton was a perfectly acceptable NBA point guard. He's not in the upper tier of point guards like Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, etc. but he's generally been productive on the court. Which is what made his poor season in Portland last year so surprising. It wasn't just that he was bad on the court, he reportedly led a "mutiny" against Nate McMillan (who was fired after a 42 point beatdown at the hands of the Knicks in Madison Square Garden) and fell into the trap of assuming there wouldn't be an NBA season as the lockout raged on and came into Training Camp out of shape). Safe to say, he's a hated man in the Pacific Northwest.

He was the primary ballhandler for Portland, and delivered mixed results. He averaged six assists per game, but committed about three turnovers a game. I thought that with Felton joining Aldridge, Batum, Wallace etc., Portland's offense would take a step forward. But that didn't happen as the team offensive efficiency decreased by three points.

Felton was coming off two excellent (for him) shooting seasons, but he reverted back to form in Portland. He only hit on 30% of his three attempts despite taking nearly four a game. Woodson's teams generally haven't taken that many three attempts, so I'd be surprised if Felton takes the 5 per game he did under Mike D'Antoni during his first run in NY.

The big question when discussing Felton has been "Will he be more productive with this roster than Jeremy Lin was?" The general answer has been "No," but Felton may not need to be for the Knicks to build upon their back to back playoff appearances. Provided he cuts down on the turnovers, he should be able to improve New York's offensive efficiency.

I guess we all qualify as bloggers, so if Felton sees us, he's gonna drop 50 on us.

Starting Shooting Guard:

20120408_kkt_aw8_447_extra_large_medium

Photo from Peachtree Hoops

Metric

Iman Shumpert* 2011-2012

Shooting guards in 2011-2012

Minutes per Game

28.9

23

True Shooting %

48.5

52.7

Assist rate

23.85

17.95

Rebound rate

6.3

6.6

Turnover rate

16.04

12.56

Usage rate

18.2

19.79

Player Efficiency Rating

10.86

12.59

Win Shares per 48

.068

.099

Wins Produced per 48

.048

.099

*was his rookie season

Unfortunately, Shumpert will miss the early portion of the season after suffering a gruesome injury in the playoffs vs. Miami. He's hoping for a January return and has been making some progress on the recovery front.

When he does return, what do the Knicks expect? I ran into the same problem Kevin McElroy of KnickerBlogger did, and that was I can see he's good on defense, but I can't find any measurable (in a non Synergy Sports world) that shows how good he is. I will say that along with Chandler (more on him later), New York's defensive efficiency took a major step up even though they were the only major acquisitions the Knicks made.

He was named to the All NBA Rookie First Team & has earned tons of praise. Steve Novak:

You see Shump out there on the ball, forcing guys over screens and getting steals. He has unbelievable hands. That's contagious."

Mike D'Antoni:

"He has the athletic ability to guard a Derrick Rose or a Dwyane Wade or a LeBron James,"

And bonus points for this:

In gif form:

Shump_medium_medium

Jrr_medium

Photo from SB Nation

Metric

J.R. Smith 2011-2012

Shooting guards in 2011-2012

Smith's career

Minutes per Game

27.6

23

24.2

True Shooting %

50.8

52.7

54.4

Assist rate

17.68

17.95

15.86

Rebound rate

8.1

6.6

6.8

Turnover rate

9.7

12.56

11.4

Usage rate

22

19.79

23.9

Player Efficiency Rating

15.2

12.59

15.2

Win Shares per 48

.122

.099

.092

Wins Produced per 48

.108

.099

.058

I figured J.R. was gonna be the starter, but apparently that's not the case. Be that as it may, Smith figures to get the majority of minutes at shooting guard.

After spending his lockout vacation in China, J.R. returned to the NBA and signed with the Knicks instead of the Los Angeles Clippers.

He did have his moments, but Smith's season was unsuccessful for the most part. He was given a key role on offense but struggled with his shot, as he hit on only 40.7% of his attempts. This down year seems to be the exception, as Smith had shot in the mid 40s four out of the past 5 seasons. He's best utilized behind the three point line, as he's hit on 37% of his career attempts from distance.A lot of Knick fan friends and media types would rage during games as Smith would jack up shots as soon as he got the ball, but that's just J.R. doing what he does best. He's instant offense coming off the bench, and when he's got it going (like the Boston game above), he can carry an offense and bury the opponent with a barrage of three pointers. But when his shot isn't there (like the Miami playoff series), he's a complete drain that will wreck your offense.

He's not a defender like Ronnie Brewer, but he's capable enough in my view. Last year, opposing 2s shot an eFG of 48.5%, which was right around league average. He's certainly not what you'd call great, but his defensive efforts (most of the time) and his rebounding are decent enough so that he can contribute on the nights his shot is non-existent.

Starting Small Forward:

142593601_extra_large_huge_medium

Photo from Posting and Toasting

Metric

Carmelo Anthony 2011-2012

Small Forwards in 2011-2012

Anthony's career

Minutes per Game

34.1

22

36.2

True Shooting %

52.5

52.7

54.5

Assist rate

15.03

15.99

14.76

Rebound rate

10.6

9

10

Turnover rate

10.8

12.78

11.7

Usage rate

31.8

17.98

31.2

Player Efficiency Rating

21.18

11.96

20.4

Win Shares per 48

.160

.099

.129

Wins Produced per 48

.104

.099

.071

When he's on, Carmelo is one of the best players in the league. He's deadly in isolation, can be a force in the high post, and has shown an ability to take and make huge shots in late game situations.

(Note: This was my favorite regular season game of the year, with Blazers-Thunder in OT being second)

Taking a look at his season last year, the injuries took a toll on him. He averaged the fewest minutes per game since his rookie year and his lowest True Shooting % since his sophomore year. I would attribute that decline to injuries, as Anthony dealt with right ankle, left wrist, right thumb, & right groin injuries throughout the season. When we look at his shooting, his midrange game really suffered. Melo is utilized best when he's on the elbow, which gives him three options on offense. He can either: a) isolate and take a jumper, b) attack the defender and get to the basket, or c) find an open teammate if the defense converges on him. Anthony loves the right elbow, as that's where he took the second highest amount of shots. Unfortunately, he didn't convert on that many of his 168 attempts. He only shot 38% from the right elbow, which was an eight percentage drop from the year before. He's consistently shot in the low to mid 40's from deep two, so I would expect Anthony to improve on the career low 35% from 16-23 feet.

Whenever three point shooting comes up with Melo, I have one thought: STOP SHOOTING THEM! Seriously, Anthony's bad at it. He's only a career 32% shooter from deep. He's not as bad as LeBron was before this year (averaged over 4 per game even though he only shot 33%), but he should follow LeBron and minimize the three attempts.

Even though he doesn't average nine shots a game at the rim (!!!) like he did in 2006-2007, Melo still makes his living near the basket. He got close to 6 attempts a game at the rim, but only shot 60% on those attempts. In his defense, it's really tough to finish at the rim after taking contact while you've got injuries all over your body. But those attempts (& a sky high usage rate) lessened the effects of his struggles at the basket, as he got to the line seven times a night. The ability to consistently get to the line is what makes Anthony so valuable in my view. He can get his shot off at any time & more often than not, if he doesn't hit the goal, he'll at least get to the free throw line more than the average player would. And when the playoffs come & the pace slows down, that ability takes on added importance.

He's earned the reputation of being a player that doesn't give max effort all the time on defense, but that appears to be changing. When he was on the court, New York allowed 100.1 points per 100 possessions with Melo, which was a dramatic improvement over the 109 NY allowed with him when he came over from Denver (granted, it was only 977 minutes he played with the Knicks after the trade). And to be fair, the Nuggets did allow fewer points with him on the court vs. without. Now the contrarian view of that could be "yeah, well he's on the court with defenders like Aaron Afflalo, Tyson Chandler & Shumpert. Of course he'd look good in that context." But that belief isn't entirely true. Opposing small forwards had an eFG of 47.2 against him, which was right around the league average for SFs. Melo is strong, is relatively quick and because he's so active on the offensive side of the ball, he forces his opponent to expend so much energy that they're less active on offense. And while I'm not one for predictions, I think Melo is gonna have an MVP caliber season.

Starting Power Forward:

Gyi0062906360_huge_medium

Photo from SB Nation

Metric

Amare Stoudemire 2011-2012

Power Forwards in 2011-2012

Stoudemire's career

Minutes per Game

32.8

21

34.5

True Shooting %

54.1

53

59.6

Assist rate

5.72

12.85

7.12

Rebound rate

13.7

13.6

14.4

Turnover rate

12.8

13.43

12.7

Usage rate

25.4

18.61

26.8

Player Efficiency Rating

17.7

14.47

22.2

Win Shares per 48

.128

.099

.174

Wins Produced per 48

.036

.099

.113

Last year was not a good one for STAT. He dealt with mediocre play, injuries and worst of all, he lost his brother in a car crash.

On the court, he had his worst full season since his sophomore campaign in 2003, but it wasn't that bad. Yes he did shoot a career worst 48%, but that was a little above what other 4s shot. Even though he doesn't appear to be as explosive as he was in the "Seven Seconds or Less" era, he was still an excellent finisher at the rim. STAT shot close to 70% at the basket, which was one of the best marks among power forwards in the NBA. That efficiency at the rim combined with STAT drawing fouls 16% of the time he had the ball would lead me to believe that there'll be a ton of pick-n-rolls for Amare called this year.

The problem was his shooting outside of the rim. There were thoughts of him expanding his range to include three pointers, but that didn't really happen by and large. His mid & deep jump shooting all registered in the low 30%, which were career lows. I think it's safe to make the assumption that a lack of floor spacing (along with injuries) contributed to his struggles in those areas, and with good health and a real training camp, those kinks will work themselves out and STAT will regain his consistency w/r/t his jumpers.

Even during his peak, he wasn't what you'd call a great rebounder. He's not a rebounder like Reggie Evans, but he's always been league average and doesn't hinder their efforts on the glass. With Tyson Chandler & now Jason Kidd on the roster, there won't be as much pressure on Soudemire to rebound.

Of course, there will be pressure on Amare to have a big season for New York. In addition to the large contract he signed in the "Summer of 2010" & NYK only winning one playoff game in the two seasons he's been in the organization, he's gonna need to make up for his bit of foolishness in the postseason. We all know the story, but after a Game 2 loss vs. Miami, Amare took his frustrations out on a fire extinguisher. Even though he hindered his team's already slim chances against the eventual Champion Miami Heat, his foolishness did lead to some Internet awesomeness.

Starting Center:

20120306_mje_se2_007_extra_large_medium

Photo from SB Nation

Metric

Tyson Chandler 2011-2012

Centers in 2011-2012

Chandler's career

Minutes per Game

33.2

18

28.1

True Shooting %

70.8

53.8

60.9

Assist rate

9.57

11.96

7.28

Rebound rate

17.2

15.1

18.3

Turnover rate

17.1

16.86

18.1

Usage rate

13

15.55

13.9

Player Efficiency Rating

18.7

12.7

15.8

Win Shares per 48

.220

.099

.152

Wins Produced per 48

.311

.099

.225

Say hello to the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, former NBA Champion, and going by the numbers, the most productive Center in the NBA in 2011-2012. He led all Centers in Win Shares, Offensive Rating & Wins Produced.

Chandler led the league in True shooting % at 70.8%. This becomes even more impressive when you take into account that it was the highest % in league history. The counter to this could be that he doesn't have many plays run for him, he gets most of his shots on putbacks and that he can't consistently create his own shot. Now all of those could be true, but at the same time, having a center who can finish at the rim & do a solid job at the FT line is extremely valuable. Lord knows the Nets could've used a player like Chandler who can consistently convert on shots at the rim.

Even though Chandler is useful on offense, his real value comes on the defensive side of the ball. Here's the defensive efficiencies of the teams Chandler has played on the past five years and their league ranking:

2007-2008 - New Orleans: 102.9 (7)

2008-2009 - New Orleans: 104.1 (9)

2009-2010 - Charlotte: 100.2 (T-1)

2010-2011 - Dallas: 102.3 (7)

2011-2012 - New York: 98.4 (5)

So we can conclude that Chandler is a positive on the defensive side of the ball. When we consider that NY allowed 107 points per 100 last year and Chandler was the main acquisition, his performance becomes even more impressive. As an individual defender, he more than held his own as he held opposing Centers to an eFG of 46.5% and a PER of 12.6. Standing at 7'1, Chandler is very long, physical in the post and can stay with wing players for a decent amount of time when the Knicks switch on pick-and-rolls.

The Bench:

Jason_kidd_medium_medium

Photo from Golden State of Mind

Metric

Jason Kidd 2011-2012

Point guards in 2011-2012

Kidd's career

Minutes per Game

28.7

23

36.6

True Shooting %

52.4

52.4

50.6

Assist rate

70.15

38.1

74.5

Rebound rate

8.1

5.9

10

Turnover rate

24.2

17.8

18.9

Usage rate

12.7

20.94

19.5

Player Efficiency Rating

13.1

13.48

18.1

Win Shares per 48

.104

.100

.133

Wins Produced per 48

.207

.099

.254

And... you know, the DWI he just got not less than 2 months ago. He's 39 years old. You shouldn't be driving drunk no matter what age you are, but once you get past 25 or so, you don't even have a vestige of an excuse for it. He could've killed someone, not least of whom himself. It's absurd. Look. I don't want to pretend like I know Jason Kidd personally, or that I really understand the full story on any of this. But this is terrible, terrible stuff. If even half this stuff is true, Kidd is one hell of an awful person. He gets a lot of good publicity because -- predictably -- he's white, quaint, and reportedly decent to reporters. But off the court there are no shortage of indications that Kidd is one of the absolute worst people in the NBA, and someone who makes just about the worst role model a man could possibly make. So yeah. I don't like him much. Respect his game, sure, but don't conflate that with respect for him as a human being.

- Aaron McGuire of Gothic Ginobili

Even though the way Kidd left New Jersey was incredibly disappointing, I'm still a fan of Jason Kidd. But if one were to conclude that Kidd is a POS, I wouldn't be able to challenge their viewpoint.

Despite those off court troubles, Kidd is still useful on the court. Even though he's not as dynamic as he was when he played for the Suns, his passing hasn't really fallen off. He's still one of the finer passers in the league, as he had a sky high assist rate and picked up about 6 assists in 29 minutes a game. He's always committed a bunch of turnovers (even from his days in Phoenix), so I wouldn't be surprised if he commits a bunch of turnovers.

Kidd isn't the player he once was, so he's been remade into a spot up shooter, and it was successful during the early part of his Dallas (the sequel) run. During his first two & a half years, Kidd shot in the 40s from three point range. Those 2.5 seasons look like an outlier when we take into account that Kidd has shot 34 & 35% from three point land, which is right in line with his career average of 35% from downtown.

He's not the All NBA defender he once was, but Kidd still does a good job of forcing turnovers. In fact, he's still one of the best in the league at getting steals, as he had close to two steals a game, which would've tied him with Iman Shumpert for seventh in the league. He'll certainly have his troubles when he faces off against Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose & other quick point guards,

20120229_jel_ag9_717_extra_large_medium

Photo from Posting and Toasting

Metric

Steve Novak 2011-2012

Power Forwards in 2011-2012

Novak's career

Minutes per Game

18.9

21

11.5

True Shooting %

68.4

53

62.8

Assist rate

3.24

12.85

6.47

Rebound rate

5.9

13.6

6.3

Turnover rate

5.7

13.43

5

Usage rate

16.2

18.61

16.2

Player Efficiency Rating

15.9

14.47

13.9

Win Shares per 48

.181

.099

.130

Wins Produced per 48

.143

.099

.076

Novak only does one thing on the court, but he's really, really, really good at it. Jeff Van Gundy considers him to be the "world's best pure shooter," and he has good reason to. Novak was third in total makes and led the league in three point percentage, shooting an insane 47% from three point range. Novak favored the right side of the court, as 153 of his 282 attempts from deep came from there. He was assisted on 95.7% of his makes, which was the highest mark in the league, so he's pretty clearly a catch and shoot player only. Be that as it may, in an offense that features two guys who command a lot of attention, Novak will get a ton of good looks behind the line.

Tumblr_m6ych0jwgi1qgjs8go1_500_medium

Photo from Tumblr user DunkofDeath

Metric

Marcus Camby 2011-2012

Centers in 2011-2012

Camby's career

Minutes per Game

24.1

18

30

True Shooting %

49.1

53.8

50.4

Assist rate

21.7

11.96

26.6

Rebound rate

22.3

15.1

19.2

Turnover rate

6.8

16.86

12.8

Usage rate

14.6

15.55

16.6

Player Efficiency Rating

19.6

12.7

17.9

Win Shares per 48

.179

.099

.138

Wins Produced per 48

.265

.099

.243

I feel old as hell looking at that picture of Camby, Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell, and I'm only 22. Camby's back for his second tour of duty with the Knicks, & he's bringing a whole bunch of defensive rebounding with him. Here's where Camby's ranked in terms of defensive rebounding rate the last nine seasons:

2003-2004 - 3

2004-2005 - 3

2005-2006 - 1

2006-2007 - 2

2007-2008 - 2

2008-2009 - 2

2009-2010 - 1

2010-2011 - 1

2011-2012 - 2

Camby can hit the occasional jumper so he's not a zero on the offensive end, but that's not what the Knicks signed him for. When Tyson Chandler heads to the bench & Camby comes in the game, there won't be a drop off in terms of the defense at the center position.

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Photo from Bright Side of the Sun

Meet another old veteran. Thomas will be the second big off the bench but with Stoudemire starting, Camby being the first big to come off the bench & Novak/Melo playing the power forward position as well, I don't see Thomas playing major minutes. When he does step on the court, he'll do what he does best: set solid picks and convert on the open jumpers he'll get after setting said picks. He's shot over 40% on his jumpers (16-23 feet) the past four seasons, and I would think that trend will continue this season.

Gyi0060788804_huge_medium

Photo from Silver Screen and Roll

I'm glad Rasheed Wallace is back. We need someone to call floppers out for what they are, to call Hedo Turkoglu "Turkododo" (Raptors & Magic fans would agree with that assessment), and to yell at refs.

But in an NBA with Andris Biedrins, Johan Petro & other assorted terrible big men, Wallace should be able to provide some value to the Knicks. When we last saw 'Sheed, he was helping to neutralize Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Wallace had 11 points & 8 rebounds in 35 minutes as the Celtics came up a little short against the Lakers.

Sheed certainly won't provide the value to the Knicks like he did in Portland and Detroit, but he should be passable. If his last season in Boston is any indication, he should be able to knock in the occasional three pointer and post shot while doing a solid job on the defensive glass. Of course, Wallace hasn't played in two seasons so who knows if hell be able to regain his touch. I would imagine he'd start off slow if he makes the roster, so I wouldn't write him off if he starts off slow for the first month (or two) of the season.

Act_ronnie_brewer_medium

Photo from CelticsBlog

Brewer was gonna be the starter in place of Shumpert, but he's currently on the mend after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in early September.

When he does come back, he'll be bringing lock down defense. Chicago was the best defense in the NBA & Brewer's play on the perimeter helped contribute to that. Chicago forced their opponents into 25 deep twos a game, which led the league. They held their foes to a field goal % of 35.7, good for third in the league. When we look at Brewer individually, we can see the excellence shine through. Brewer held opposing shooting guards to an eFG of 44.5% & a PER of 11.8, both of which are terrific. Brewer was able to maintain the high quality play against small forwards, as they only shot an eFG of 45.5% while Brewer was defending them. When Shumpert comes back, I believe the Knicks will use Shumpert & Brewer on the court together consistently. Yeah neither of them can shoot well, but they're both good-great defenders, and with either Amare/Melo (or both) on the court with them, they can focus exclusively on the defensive side of the ball.

What do we expect this year?

Yeah I know they're old, but if everyone stays healthy for the majority of the season, I think they can be a Top 4 seed in the East. With Chicago not expected to be near the top of the standings & Orlando rebuilding, New York will face tough competition from Boston, Indiana, Philadelphia, Brooklyn & maybe Atlanta as well.

I expect the defense to be very strong this season. The loss of Jared Jeffries hurts, but I think NYK management found a more than capable replacement in Camby. His length, excellence on the defensive glass, and low post presence will work wonders for the second team when Chandler gets rest on the bench. The addition of Ronnie Brewer paired with Shumpert will also bolster their defense, as they both have the ability to defend (and defend well) three positions.

Taking a look at the first month of their season, with the exception of two games (at Orlando and home against Detroit), they're gonna be facing playoff-championship caliber opponents. They open up against the Nets, play the Heat the next night at MSG, a home & home vs Philadelphia, take a few days off before hosting Dallas, and after playing the Magic, have a back to back in San Antonio and Memphis, come back home for Indiana, and then head right back onto the road for a three game road trip in NOLA, Dallas (night 2 of a back to back) and Houston. Someone at the league office must have a sense of humor.

And lastly, Carmelo Anthony. I don't have any reason other than "I just have a feeling," but I just think he's gonna have a dominant, MVP caliber season. He's certainly got all the skills, and after coming off a disappointing, injury filled NBA year, he went out & had a fantastic run in the Olympics. With a full camp and regular season with Mike Woodson along with good health, I think Anthony will regain his touch from midrange and eliminate (or severely curtail) the three point attempts, he'll, in my opinion, have his most efficient season shooting the ball of his career.

Required Reading: Posting and Toasting

Previous Volumes: I, II

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