If you are still reading this article after that absurdly bold prediction in the title, I appreciate it. One can take a look at that heading and completely bash the article without even reading it but I can assure you that I have some facts, and opinions, to back it up. The beginning of the Knicks season has been absolutely atrocious to say the least and they hadn’t given their fans any signs of hope until recently. From James Dolan representing himself as the Jerry Jones of the NBA and the Knicks showing 0% of the team chemistry that won them 54 games and the Atlantic title last season, New York has been the laughing-stock of the league. So with their star player with basically one foot out the door, why do I feel that these horrid Knicks will turn it around? I’m glad you asked.
1. Texas Trip Turnaround
In the Knicks most recent 3-game road trip to Texas, every analyst predicted that New York would be manhandled from San Antonio to Houston and finally in Dallas. If you watched those 3 games you would know that was clearly not the case. Somehow, the injury plagued Knicks pulled off huge victories in San Antonio, which has been the hardest arena to play in during the 17 year Duncan Era, and Dallas, which is always a tough spot to succeed. They did lose to Houston but only because of the bonehead play from Mr. Weed himself, JR Smith. Regardless of the win-loss record from the 3 day trip, the Knicks were playing with a swagger that they had seemed to have lost since the end of the Celtics playoff series last year.
2. Iman Is Back!
Outside of Carmelo Anthony, every Knicks fan knew that for us to have a big season Iman Shumpert would have to live up to his potential. Obviously, in New York Knicks fashion, trade rumors surfaced involving Iman within 2 days into the season. That would rattle any athlete, let alone a 3rd year player who is entering his first full season after ACL surgery. Now I am not placing all of Shumpert’s early season woes on rumors but it definitely didn’t help. All of the energy we all saw last year seemed to have dissipated and the Knicks looked like they were stuck with a shell of the former Knicks Tape creator. If you don’t know what the Knicks Tape is, here is a video that was made prior to the 2012 season:
This was the type of swagger that helped fuel the Knicks all last season. In this most recent Texas trip, Knicks fans were delighted to see the artist formerly known as Iman playing like we knew he could. I expect the second half of this season to be huge for Iman to showcase his talents.
3. Getting Healthy is Key
Like most of the NBA, the Knicks have been hit hard with the injury bug. Every single player, except for Andrea Bargnani ironically, has been sidelined with at least one injury whether significant or not. As of this moment, only Felton and Prigioni are still hurt but rumor has it that Raymond will be making a reappearance soon. I honestly believe that if Melo, Tyson, Shumpert and (laugh all you want) Stoudemire can stay healthy, then the Knicks pose a tough matchup for anyone in the league. I wouldn’t mind if JR Suck goes down with a tattoo injury of some sort because he is the one player who just doesn’t seem to be able to get his shit together.
4. Bench Energy
Over the past 2 seasons, the Knicks have had one of the deadliest benches in the game. Their depth was so good that no one injury could really throw them off of their game. Somehow, all of their depth vanished in a season where it looked like on paper they had gotten deeper. Well, JR proved he really is just a punk with athleticism (yet Woodson still gives him way too many minutes), Prigioni wasn’t showing the comfort level he had last year and STAT and Kenyon were really showing their ages as the season began. Even the acquisition of Metta Worldpeace didn’t pan out the way New York had hoped, but recently Knicks rookies Tim Hardaway Jr and Toure Murry have provided that spark that has been missing all year-long. They add tenacity and Defense to a team that needs it oh so badly. Kenyon has began to show glimpses of the guy who went to back to back NBA Championships with New Jersey and STAT is finally giving us some of those skills he paid Hakeem Olajuwon $200,000 to teach him. As long as the bench can provide energy, the Knicks will win games.
Let’s call a spade a spade. The Atlantic division is a joke and no one should feel proud winning it but someone will and I believe it will be the Knicks. With Lopez out for the season Brooklyn doesn’t stand a chance and there is no way that Toronto will keep up this type of play, especially when they trade away Lowry. That leaves Boston and Philadelphia…enough said. I am not saying the Knicks will win the Atlantic because they are a great team, I am saying they will win it because the rest of their division is pathetic!