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!
An 82 game NBA season can have a lot of ups and downs and can often be very unpredictable. While a lot of people don’t put to much emphasis on the early season, I find every game as important as the next and think that you can see a teams true colors right from the get go. I have always had a huge passion for NBA basketball. I mean I am such an NBA nerd that my family was introduced at my Bar Mitzvah to the “We Are the New York Knicks” theme song. So in this article I have decided to take the majority of things that have been happening around the NBA through the first fifth of the season and break it all down. There have been some predictable outcomes so far but there have also been some great new surprises.
I’ll start with the topic I am most proud to talk about; the standings. While everyone could have predicted that the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs would be among the leaders in the their respective conferences, no one would have been able to foresee who would be on the top of the East and West at this point in the season. Right now, my New York Knicks are on top of the Eastern Conference with a 12-4 record while the Memphis Grizzlies sit on top the the Western Conference with an NBA best 13-3 record. Both of these teams have come out of the gates determined to place themselves among the perennially elite teams. Other surprises thus far include the great starts by the Brooklyn Nets (11-6) and the consistently awful Golden State Warriors (10-7). The Nets and Warriors are two franchises that haven’t seen much success in their past but this year seems to be a redeeming light for them both. On the negative end we have our usual bottom dwellers like the Wizards, Raptors, Kings and Hornets but I am positive that no one expected the Lakers to be an abysmal 8-10 or even the Rose-less Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA last year, at 8-8. The Lakers fired Coach Brown and hired the much maligned Coach D’Antoni, who is off to an embarrassing 3-5 start. He might be more hated in LA then he was in NY and I know Phil Jackson is just sitting back laughing.
On to my favorite aspect of the game; the statistics. If I started by asking who are the top 4 scorers in the NBA, I am pretty sure that most people would be able to guess it correctly even if they haven’t been following this season too closely. Kobe, Melo, Durant and Lebron always find themselves among the scoring leaders but the real surprise is the 80 million dollar man who now ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring, James Harden. Harden is proving that he is an elite scorer when he’s not shadowed by Durant and Westbrook. When it comes to dropping dimes, no one in the league does it as well as the man I said would finish this season as the NBA MVP; Rajon Rondo. Rondo is averaging a staggering 12.9 assists per game and had a ridiculous streak of 37 straight games with at least 10 assists until he decided to body check Kris Humphries Kardashian which resulted in him getting ejected. The surprise name in the top 5 in assists has to be Greivis Vasquez. You might be asking yourself who the fuck is that. He is a 2nd year Venezuelan man out of Maryland and plays for the lowly Hornets. Vasquez will soon be a household name and can be connecting with the Unibrow for years to come. There are a lot teams that don’t value rebounding the way I think they should. I mean my Knicks have the best record in the East but they are among the bottom 5 teams in rebounding so there are ways to win without it. Having said that, I am a firm believer that if you want a Championship you need to rebound. Someone with a team that stands a chance this year needs to trade for Anderson Varejao, who is averaging an NBA leading 15.4 RPG, because I haven’t seen a player attack the glass the way he does since Dennis Rodman. Zach Randolph is 2nd in the NBA with 13.3 RPG and he is doing most of his damage on the offensive boards. I feel Randolph has not been getting his proper accolades because in my mind he is the main reason the Grizzlies have the best record in the NBA.
The final topic I want to talk about is my picks for the end of season awards thus far.
MVP: Rajon Rondo – I picked him before the season started and I am sticking with him for the time being. Rondo is averaging 13 PPG, 13 APG, 5 RPG and he is shooting an impressive 50% from the field. The Celtics aren’t nearly as good as they used to be, but Rondo is showing signs that he is only getting better every time on the court. For my Knicks fans, Melo was #2 on my list for MVP so far.
ROY: Damian Lillard – I talked about this rookie out of Weber State before the season started stating that he is the 2nd best rookie behind Anthony “Unibrow” Davis. Since Unibrow has been plagued with injuries, Lillard is my current front runner for rookie of the year. Damien is averaging 19.1 PPG, good for 11th in the NBA, to go along with 3.3 RPG and 6.3 APG. His connection with Lamarcus Aldridge will only get stronger and Portland will be a relevant team once again some time soon.
6th Man: Jamal Crawford – The 12 year veteran out of Michigan is arguably off to his best start of his career and is one of the main reasons why the LA Clippers are an impressive 11-6. Crawford is averaging nearly 18 PPG off the bench and every time he enters the game he brings the type of electricity that makes teams more fearful of the reserves than the actual starting lineup. With more consistency, JR Smith can give Crawford a run for his money.
Coach of the Year: Lionel Hollins – His Grizzlies record of 13-3 speaks for itself, but the former Portland Trailblazers star has his team buying into his philosophy that is perplexing any opponent that faces them. Grizzlies are super efficient on both the offensive and defensive ends and Hollins is the main reason why. My boy Mike Woodson would definitely be second on my list for COY followed by the Nets Avery Johnson.
It’s been a great season so far, especially for my Knicks, and I look forward to what the nest few months will bring. I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted.
Let’s get something straight, I understand that the New York Knicks have not made it easy on their fans over the past 12 years but all the whining is getting old. There are two types of Knicks fans in the world, one that bleeds orange and blue while keeping faith and supporting their team all the time, and the other is a pouting little bitch that complains about any move the organization makes and pulls their vintage Starks jersey out of the closet once the team starts winning again. I understand the Knicks have been awful in recent years and they have been the comedic punching bag of the NBA for over 10 years, but unless you are blind you can’t deny the organization has been working their asses off to turn things around.
It seems that all of these bootleg Knicks fan’s minds have been permanently tainted by the horrid dark years that the moron Isiah Thomas was responsible for in the early 2000’s. The fact of the matter is that the Knicks are not far off from becoming a contender once again in the Eastern Conference. Sure in the last two season’s, the Knicks have been eliminated embarrassingly from the first round of the playoffs but there were outstanding circumstances that definitely were not in their favor. Between Stoudemire’s stupidity and an endless array of injuries, the Knicks really didn’t have a chance in either of those series.
In the Knicks most recent attempt to bring success back to the world’s most famous arena, they came to terms with Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks. The second I heard this news I knew that every Knicks “fan” that has been drinking their ‘Hater’ade on a daily basis was going to come out of their shell to criticize this signing without thinking the move over. What they see is a washed up point guard at the end of his career, what I see is one of the greatest point guards that the NBA has ever seen who is only 2 years removed from winning the NBA Championship as the starting PG. I understand Kidd is not the player he once was, but if you honestly don’t think he can help improve the Knicks than you should take your head out of your ass.
Let’s put it into perspective. The Knicks have one of the most talented scorer’s in the world in Carmelo Anthony. They have the second best defensive Center in the NBA in Tyson Chandler, who just won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year by the way. They have a highly talented and young Iman Shumpert, who definitely proved he can play with the big boys last season, and they are most likely going to retain the young phenomenon, Jeremy Lin. Now I can mention Amare as a formidable player, but he has given me no reason to do so.
With all that being said, I have a few reason’s why this Jason Kidd acquisition will work in the Knicks favor. If nothing else, Jeremy Lin will be able to play out his most impressionable years in the NBA under the tutelage of one of the smartest players to ever step foot on the hardwood. Kidd also has proven chemistry with Tyson Chandler, as they were both integral parts around Dirk Nowitzki during the Mavericks championship run just two years ago. Another positive that comes with Kidd is that he demands absolutely no offensive possessions, and in the isolation style of basketball that the Knicks play, that is very good news. Those should be enough reason’s to get some of these haters to shut up for a moment.
Now I am sure some of you will come at me with rubbish like, “well Melo and Amare can’t play together,” or “Lin was a flash in the pan and will suck now,” or even “Kidd is just going to be another Baron Davis.” All I can say to that is that you should just wait and see because nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen. I’m not an idiot, of course I would have rather had Steve Nash at the point, but once he was scooped up by the Lakers, Kidd was the next best choice and not such a bad one at that. Unless you wanted the Knicks to resign Raymond Felton, they went with the right choice. Mike Woodson will now have a complete off-season to get his team together and maybe build some chemistry that has been nonexistent for the past two years and if everyone can stay healthy the Knicks will be a team to fear. Will the Knicks be on the same level as the Miami Heat? Of course not, but no one will. So all I ask is that all of you crybaby supposed Knicks fan’s just shut up and roll with the punches because I see good things ahead.
After an extremely successful stretch as the Knicks interim head coach at the end of the 2011-12 season, the Knicks have decided to give Mike Woodson an extension. With an 18-6 record to close out the regular season and the Knicks first playoff game victory in over a decade, Mike Woodson more than proved that he deserved to be coaching the Orange and Blue next year. It is a multi-year extension for an undisclosed amount. Woodson was extremely excited to get the interim tag removed from his title.
“I’m very humbled and honored to continue coaching the franchise where I started my NBA career,” Woodson, who was drafted by the Knicks in 1980, said in a statement. “Our goal is to build off the success we had at the end of last season and to continue our quest of bringing an NBA championship to Madison Square Garden.”
Woodson made it clear that he wanted the job from the second that former head coach, Mike D’Antoni, said he could no longer coach the Knicks. Upper management did not let Woodson’s effort go unnoticed.
“Mike took over the team under challenging circumstances and made it clear, starting on day one, that he was going to hold every player on our roster accountable,” Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan said in a statement. “We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike’s direction.”
This is the first of many pieces of the puzzle that the Knicks must finish before next season starts. I think Mike Woodson is a good fit and I look forward to seeing how he handles a full season in the toughest city to coach in the world.
It has been a roller coaster year for New York sports teams and this past weekend just added to the ride. Baseball season is underway and it seems as if the Mets and Yankees are switching places in the early going. The NBA regular season is coming to the end and the Knicks are not making it easy on their fans. The NHL regular season is over and with the best goalie in the league and the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers have their highest expectations going into the playoffs since ’93-’94. This past Sunday capped off what was an amazing and unpredictable weekend in New York.
Opening weekend in MLB is always fun for me…mainly because my Mets are statistically still relevant. Coming into this season, the Yankees were the favorite to win the AL East while the Mets were the favorite to finish last in the NL East, so no one could have predicted how this opening weekend went. The Yankees started this young season by getting swept by their division rival Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Both Sabathia and Kuroda got rocked in their first starts of the season and Hughes, although only giving up 2 earned runs, couldn’t even complete 5 innings. The Yanks were able to put up some runs in the first two games but with the ever-reliable Mariano Rivera blowing the opening day save for the first time in his career and picking up the loss there definitely were some Yankee fans worrying a little.
On the other side of the City, the sad and in debt Mets did something they have never done before; swept an opening series against a division rival. Johan Santana was the opening day starter and pitched an impressive game with 5 shutout innings followed by a flawless bullpen performance to finish the shutout. Frank Fransisco became the Mets first ever closer to have a save in the first 3 games of a season. I personally sat in the Champions Club Level right next to Fred Wilpon’s sky box seats and saw him smile, possibly for the first time ever, at the end of Sundays win against the Atlanta Braves. Lets put this opening weekend in perspective though. There are still 159 games left in this season and I am sure the Yankees will be just fine and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mo goes 40-1 in save opportunities. The Mets looked great in the opening weekend but I am a realistic Mets fan so I won’t get ahead of myself.
The Knicks are in the midst of a very intense and exhilarating playoff race. Currently, if the playoffs started today, the Knicks would be facing the Miami Heat in the first round in the 2-7 match-up. As a Knicks fan, I would HATE to see that, but as a basketball fan, I would LOVE to see that. Since Mike Woodson has taken the reigns as New York’s interim head coach, the Knicks have the #1 ranked defense in the NBA and an 11-3 record. Their most impressive win during Woodson’s short run came Sunday against the team with the best record in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls. If you watched this game or saw the highlights on ESPN you would know that this was one of the most exciting games of the entire NBA season and the type of game that the Knicks have lost far too often over the past decade. Carmelo had his highest scoring performance as a Knick (43), and hit a game tying 3-pointer to bring the game into overtime and then drained the game winning 3 in the end of OT. With another big game against Chicago on Tuesday and then a pivotal game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday we should have a clear understanding of where the Knicks playoff future lies by Thursday.
The other New York team that plays in the Garden has been making noise all season but hasn’t got the recognition they deserve because of the sport they play. The Rangers have been unbelievable all season long and Henrik Lundqvist is the front-runner to win the Vezina Trophy as well as probably receiving some votes for the Hart Trophy. The problem with the Rangers regular season success is that in the NHL there are a lot of playoff upsets. They have run into an unfavorable match-up for their first round by being paired with the 8th seeded Ottawa Senators. The Senators played the Rangers in 4 regular seasons games this season and won 3 of them. I still feel that the Rangers will step it up in the playoffs and hopefully bring back the cup to NY.
In other New York sports news, my new favorite Jet, Tim Tebow, had over 15,000 people attend his Easter Event in Texas on Sunday but since I do not care about his political or religious views what-so-ever that is all I will say about that.
It is great to be a New York sports fan right now and I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks. Let us know how you think the Mets and Yankees polar opposite starts will pan out. Also, where do you think the Knicks and Rangers will finish their Post Season play?
Just 2 weeks ago the New York Knicks were 7 games out of 1st place in the Atlantic Division as well as being half a game out of the playoffs all together. Linsanity was said to have been dead and the Knicks seemed to be going into the same depressing direction that has haunted Knicks fans for over a decade. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire were putting up career lows in all major statistical categories and no one on the team seemed to be having fun. On a daily basis, Mike D’Antoni looked as if someone was punching him in the gut every morning. Well the punches must have finally got to D’Antoni, because on the morning of March 14th Mike D’Antoni resigned as the Knicks head coach.
Mike Woodson, who was D’Antoni’s assistant coach all season, took over as the Knicks interim head coach. His first game was March 14th against the Portland Trailblazers and during that game something seemed to drastically change…EFFORT! There was a sense of urgency that had been missing for years and the Knicks seemed to care again. The Knicks went on to score their highest point total of the season, 121, and won with their largest margin of victory of the season, 42. Now, Portland is a team that has been, as my man Walt Clyde Frazier would say, “Stumbling and Bumbling.” This has been the type of game the Knicks were losing all season, so it was nice to see them dominate a game they should win. The Knicks then went on to win at home against the playoff bound Indiana Pacers. The following day the Knicks traveled to play the same Pacers in Indiana and won there as well in impressive fashion. In the most recent two games, the Knicks went on to dominate the woeful Toronto Raptors and followed that the next day with an important win in Philadelphia against the Atlantic Division leading 76ers.
5-0 and still rolling, the Mike Woodson lead Knicks look for their sixth win in a row against the familiar and pathetic Raptors. With upcoming games against the Raptors, Pistons, Magic, Hawks, and Cavs, the Knicks can definitely position themselves for an extended win streak and possibly something that has eluded them since 1994; an Atlantic Division title. This sudden resurgence that the Knicks have can be attributed to many things but the one common factor is Mike Woodson. Something that Woodson has done has completely changed how these Knicks are playing. In an interview Woodson explained that he hasn’t changed much of what they do on offense, just some defensive tweeks here and there. Whatever those tweeks are they seem to be working beautifully with the Knicks only giving up 87 points a game since his coaching debut for them. Amare Stoudemire has finally started to look like the guy we saw last year, when he electrified the Garden faithful with 9 straight 30+ point games, and Carmelo Anthony is starting to look like he accepts his lesser “offensive” roll with the team. Since Woodson has taken over, Jeremy Lin’s minutes have gone from 35 a game to 30 a game, but his average of 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds per game indicates that “Linsanity” is not over, it’s just changed a bit.
The Knicks’ bench has been one of the biggest stories since the start of Linsanity. The constant energy they all provide on a daily basis has made Knicks fans feel a confidence we haven’t felt since the 90’s. If the Knicks can keep the momentum they have built over the past two weeks going into the playoffs then I will be a happy camper. After the win against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Knicks pulled within 3 games of 1st place in the division, and Mike Woodson went on to say, “I’ve learned our guys are not going to buckle, I honestly believe that they think they can win every game now when they step out on the floor.” I hope he is right. Let us know how you think the Knicks season will pan out from here.