“The Nets. Definitely, the Nets” said Joe Johnson–acquired in a blockbuster trade earlier this month by the Brooklyn Nets–when asked which New York team is better on Friday. And Carmelo Anthony has responded, “I hear they’re talking trash, but we’ll be ready for the challenge. I haven’t looked at the schedule, but when that game happens we will be ready.” Two weeks into the NBA offseason and this newly formed Atlantic Division rivalry can be summed up with two words: competitive and starstudded. Now with these two talented and revamped teams already sparring without playing a single game since their additions, who has the edge? Here I analyze how the Knicks and Nets’ starting lineups match up with one another next season.
Point Guard: Deron WIlliams versus Jeremy Lin/Raymond Felton
Indeed there’s a very good chance Lin will not be in a Knicks’ uniform with Felton coming back to New York, but I’m going to still take a look at who has the edge here because it’s an intriguing matchup.
That is because the careers of Williams and Lin will forever be linked due to the fact, iit was against Williams that “Linsanity” was born and Williams remembers.
On the basketball court, Williams trumps both Lin and Felton because of his superior scoring ability and playmaking skills. Although Lin still has an tremendous upside he is nowhere near the caliber of player Williams is right now. While Felton is a very capable point guard but after underwhelming season in Portland–one that saw him struggle with weight problems–we don’t know what to expect from him. Both Lin and Felton will try to play earnest defense against Williams but it will be in vain.
Winner: Simply because Williams is arguably the best point guard in the league, Brooklyn Nets
Shooting Guard: Joe Johnson versus Iman Shumpert
On paper this would seem like a no brainer because it’s a matchup pitting a veteran and multiple time All-Star Johnson against the sophomore Shumpert still recovering from his MCL injury. Johnson will probably get his points against Shumpert but it won’t come easy against this tenacious and athletic defender. And now that “Iso Joe” is getting up there in age and goes foul line less and less each year now it will make it that much easier for Shumpert to guard him on the perimeter.
Winner: Based on Joe Johnson’s pedigree, Brooklyn Nets
Small Forward: Gerald Wallace versus Carmelo Anthony
A very interesting matchup here.
Both are All-Star forwards who have been in the league for sometime. Anthony is one of the most dangerous scorers in the league–taking very little to get him into a rhythm. While Wallace is athletic specimen and slasher that is very capable of guarding the best scorer on the opposing team.
Anthony will win this matchup because he is a handful to contain and has the younger legs. And also because when motivated–which he will no doubt be for this matchup–Anthony can play very good defense especially since Wallace’s jump shot is still very suspect.
Winner: Based on Anthony’s prolific scoring ability, New York Knicks
Power Forward: Kris Humphries/Mirza Teletovic versus Amar’e Stoudemire
After an underwhelming season, it seems that Stoudemire will be expanding his game this summer working with Hakeem Olajuwon to develop post moves. A decision that will do wonders for Stoudemire’s talented game but also the versatility of the Knicks’ offense. This move may very well get Stoudemire back to All-Star form and fix the offensive chemistry issues that Anthony and Stoudemire have proven to have.
If Humphries is still in a Nets’ uniform–not under contract with the Nets right now–next season he will be a consistent double threat because of strong frame and great work ethic. A work ethic that is on full display with his relentless attack on the glass and has him putting up double doubles despite not being the most gifted offensive player.
While Teletovic who played in Spain last season is your prototypical stretch four. With a smooth jump shot Teletovic plays mostly on the perimeter and will most likely be the starting power forward next season whether or not Humphries is back next season.
If Stoudemire can develop a couple of consistent post moves he will be a matchup nightmare for both Teletovic and Humphries who aren’t known for their defensive capabilities.
Winner: With or Without a post game from Stoudemire, New York Knicks
Center: Brook Lopez versus Tyson Chandler
Both fresh off of signing hefty contracts in the last two summers, these players are sort of polar opposites. Lopez is known for being polished offensive player down low while Chandler is known for his defensive prowess and defensive anchoring.
If both players spent the offseason training with one another they would learn a great deal from each other. Lopez would learn how to rebound better which starts with mental toughness which Chandler excels at. While Chandler who normally scores only off of dunks and alley oops could learn a few moves around the rim from Lopez.
Despite how much more talented Lopez is offensively than Chandler, I still believe Chandler can contain him by being very aggressive and keeping him out of sweet spots.
Winner: The reigning defensive player of the year smothers Lopez, New York Knicks
As a result, the New York Knicks starting lineup wise have the better roster. But this could mean absolutely everything or absolutely nothing when these teams finally do face off. The true winner is actually the New York basketball fans who finally be seeing competitive basketball from teams who will surely be playoff bound. And with the verbal jarring already it seems that the Knicks and Nets’ rivalry could form into one of the NBA best.