“Title or Bust” might be a bold statement for the Knicks this season–even with their excellent offseason. But there should be no excuse why the Knick’s shouldn’t have a deep postseason run this year. Especially with a team that includes four former All-Stars, the reigning defensive player of the year, and a solid balance of youth and veteran depth on their roster. Yet the Knicks’ still have issues on their roster they need to address before they can win a Championship this season. Here are three reasons why the Knick’s will not win an NBA Championship this season.
1. Point Guard Rotation
Obviously the Knicks’ point guard rotation is a whole lot better than last year’s fiasco. The problem here is that there are too many questions surrounding each of the Knicks’ floor generals.
In Raymond Felton’s first stint with the Knicks, he played like an All-Star–regardless of the fact that his numbers were a tad inflated because of the Mike D’antoni offense. But after a solid showing with the Denver Nuggets, Felton struggled noticeably with the Portland Trail Blazers this past season. Not only was Felton having career lows in points per game, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and rebounding he was frustrated in the lack of confidence of then head coach Nate McMillan in him. On top of this Felton struggled with weight problems in his short tenure with the Knicks. And now he is the Knicks’ starting point guard and we expect him to not to have these issues again? I’m a fan of Felton’s game but with these documented coaching and conditioning issues, the Knicks need to be cautious with his minutes.
Subbing in for Felton will be Jason Kidd (39 years old) and Pablo Prigioni (35 years old). Although both are seasoned veterans and very good pass first playmakers their ages do draw concerns. Both will no doubt be liabilities on defense because their lateral quickness has diminished and how much does either of these players have left in the tank to put the Knicks’ over the top when they desperately need to be.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire’s Defense
Not only does Stoudemire want to evolve his offensive arsenal, but he also is willing to commit more of his efforts on the defensive end:
“Defense is the key to win championships, that’s something I’m dedicated on also, to become a much, much better defensive player,” Stoudemire said. “It’s going to happen. It’s a matter of preparation and practice and getting that chemistry down on that end of the court.”
I’m thrilled that Stoudemire is now more committed to defense but he hasn’t shown any defensive prowess even when motivated. Defense isn’t just blocks or steals but playing within a system and rotating timely–something Stoudemire has struggle with in his tenure in the NBA.
It’s very surprising that with all the quickness and athleticism Stoudemire has he isn’t a better defender. Yes I was very happy that he spent his offseason working on post moves with Hakeem Olajuwon but he should have worked on becoming a better defender as well during these workout sessions.
Indeed Stoudemire’s offensive game has expanded this offseason but it won’t mean a damn thing if he’s a liability on defense at the end of games. Without Stoudemire on the court all defenders will put all their efforts on Carmelo Anthony making it very difficult for the Knicks to score a bucket. Stoudemire needs to be on the court if the Knicks have any shot at a championship or a deep postseason run.
3. Carmelo Anthony’s Leadership
After swapping practically a starting lineup to bring Melo to the Garden, it is clear this is his team to lead. And I would like him to bring his Team USA mentality to the Knicks’ locker room this season. The same competitiveness, conditioning, and focus should be contagious this year. Anthony has said it himself, he plays better coming off an Olympic season, so why not lead the Knicks’ to an unlikely Championship?
If Anthony doesn’t hold his teammates accountable or bring the winning culture Tyson Chandler and himself were apart of this past summer, the Knicks’ have no chance. This means he needs to be more vocal on the court and off the court. One thing that I wanted to see from Melo last season–especially during their struggles–was telling us the basketball universe how he was going to turn this team around. Whether team meetings or being more aggressive I felt that Melo wasn’t lighting a fire under his teammates enough–something they surely needed. The only way the Knicks’ can win a Championship next season is if Anthony has another stellar season as did coming off winning gold in Bejing in 2008, but only time will tell.