Before the Knicks began their 2011-2012 campaign, they surprised many people by amnestying Chauncey Billups, and signing Tyson Chandler. The move brought in a much needed defensive anchor, as well as some additional height.
During the season J.R Smith came into the picture, as well as the blossoming Iman Shumpert, and the rise of Linsanity and Novak-ain.
On paper this team was expected to do much more than they did most of the season. They underachieved under former Coach Mike D’antoni, and then injuries hit them hard with Carmelo, Amar’e, and Lin all missing time.
They had some holes in the roster, the main one being depth upfront, as well as a lack of 3-point shooting. Jared Jefferies was injured a lot during the season, and rookie center Josh Harrellson fractured his wrist just as he was hitting his stride.
Toney Douglas, who was expected to contribute from beyond the arc, fell out of rotation. Carmelo Anthony, Landry Fields, and J.R. Smith all had below average shooting percentages from deep as well.
What the team did have was a very efficient defense (top 10 in the league), and that included the help from rookie Iman Shumpert and DPOY Tyson Chandler. It also had a deep bench at times, specifically when Jeremy Lin, J.R. Smith, Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, and Landry Fields were all healthy.
This new team has filled the holes that last year’s team had, but brings along a few of its own.
There is no longer a lack of front court depth with the additions of Kurt Thomas (6’9) and Marcus Camby (6’11), both of whom are also known for their excellent defensive play. They are at the ends of their careers, but Camby especially still has something left in his tank.
They addressed their poor 3-point shooting by adding Jason Kidd (3rd all time 3 point shots made), Raymond Felton (33% from beyond the arc), and resigning Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.
The biggest flaw in this team is age and cap space. They added two 39-year-olds in Kidd and Thomas (who is the oldest player in the league), and a 38 year old in Camby. Kidd and Camby are also being paid very well, and have 3-year deals which will contribute to The Knicks plunge into the new luxury tax.
It is worth noting however, that Jason Kidd’s game is ageless, and that his skill set needed for this team is his best one: passing.
The only other issue with the team is Jeremy Lin, or lack thereof as the case may be. It is still unclear if Lin will be returning, or if he will be heading to the Rockets. After the trade for Felton, it will be puzzling if management continues to go after him.
I am very fond of Lin, and feel that his driving abilities as well as his size in the backcourt will be missed. Also, he is a player that can be the future of the franchise at only 23 years old.
The team has declined to match Landry Fields contract from the Raptors, and he will be with them for the next three seasons. Without Fields there is a lack of depth at the 2 position, at least until Shumpert returns from his ACL tear.
The team is a more complete version of the 2012 team, with more playoff tested veterans, and much more depth. It is abundantly clear that The Knicks are in “win now” mode, and that they want to compete for a championship for the next three seasons, and then reexamine where the team is headed.
I like the new additions to the roster, and see them as having the ability of being the 3rd best team in the East, but they have one major obstacle to face. They need to avoid the injuries that have heavily effected them the past two seasons, and with the addition of aged players that can be a very difficult thing to do.
The 2013 Knicks have a lot to prove in order to compete for a championship, but with the right mixture of luck and chemistry, they can do just that.