As the New York Knicks sit a little over a week away from reporting to training camp, there are a ton of stories surrounding this team as the Knicks prepare to take the next step in order to win a championship for the first time since 1973.
Since last season ended with their playoff loss to the Miami Heat, there has been a ton of buzz surrounding this Knicks team.
With training camp so close, here’s a quick look at 10 storylines about the 2012-13 Knicks that simply won’t go away.
10. How will having a full training camp impact the Knicks?
People will point to the chemistry issues from a season ago, but a full training camp featuring a full set of preseason games should benefit this team. With so many new parts on this team and it being the first full season under coach Mike Woodson, a full training camp can only help. Remember that Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have never had a full training camp together and once Tyson Chandler was thrown into the mix last season, it became chaos on offense. a full month long camp can only help.
9. Who gets the last guaranteed contract?
There’s still one last guaranteed contract to be given out and there is a hole on the depth chart behind Stoudemire at power forward. General manager Glen Grunwald has looked to fill that void, but only being able to offer the veteran’s minimum have hurt the Knicks chances. They still could look at adding another 2-guard, but adding another big is something that needs to be addressed.
8. Will the offseason moves work?
Grunwald elected not to bring back Jeremy Lin and instead went on a spending spree that included Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, Ronnie Brewer and others, in addition to bringing back J.R. Smith and Steve Novak. While the Knicks are better on paper, have they improved enough to contend for a championship?
7. Do the Knicks have enough at shooting guard?
With Iman Shumpert out until likely January, the Knicks have only Brewer and Smith to man the 2 until then and Brewer will miss a big chunk of training camp after knee surgery. However while Brewer adds great value as a perimeter defender, he only shot 27 percent from behind the arc a season ago. Add his struggles to Smith’s questionable shot selection at times and the shooting guard spot isn’t a great strength for this team.
6. Can the Knicks play defense for 82-games?
Just look back at how bad the Knicks were as a defensive team under Mike D’Antoni and you really have to appreciate the way they committed at the defensive end during Woodson’s 24-game stretch as interim coach in 2012. Now with Woodson in the Big Apple for a whole season and the additions of Camby and Brewer to go along with Shumpert and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Chandler and suddenly defense could be strength of this team. However the question is if Anthony and Stoudemire can commit to playing at both ends for 82 games. Time will tell.
5. Are the Knicks too old?
Of the current 14 Knicks under guaranteed contracts, only Shumpert (22) is under the age of 27. Instead of addressing that in the offseason, they brought in aging vets like Kidd, Camby and Thomas. All three have productive minutes left in them, but what’s the plan to get younger when they become too old. That makes the Knicks window to win a very small one.
4. Can Stoudemire play in the post?
Amar’e needs a bounce back season after a disappointing 2012 in which he averaged only 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds, his lowest totals since his rookie season of 2003, not counting the three games he played in 2006. Injuries have taken their toll on the six-time All-Star and he has a point to prove in 2013. He showed that by working out with Hakeem Olajuwon in the offseason on adding post-moves to his repertoire. A legitimate post presence will go a long way in helping the Knicks succeed in 2013, we will find out if STAT is up to the challenge.
3. Can Knicks’ fans forget the Linsanity?
Lin was the story of the offseason as the Knicks shockingly to some allowed him to sign with the Houston Rockets. While he is still unproven in many eyes, Lin captivated the fans at Madison Square Garden and won’t soon be forgotten. That adds pressure to both Felton and Kidd to play at a very high level. If they don’t, you will hear Lin’s name brought up a ton this season.
2. Cam Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire finally co-exist?
The million dollar question surrounding this team is whether or not the Knicks’ superstars can co-exist. They say that they can, but that’s easy for them to say. The reality of the situation is that the Knicks have a losing record when the two of them are in the starting lineup together. I already brought up Stoudemire’s struggles last season, but it wasn’t a good year for ‘Melo either.
Anthony is a career .456 shooter, but Melo dropped off last year to a .430 field-goal percentage, his lowest since his rookie year and his 22.6 points per game were his lowest since his sophomore campaign. Anthony didn’t experience as severe a decline as Stoudemire did, but he became the poster child of an inefficient Knicks offense; New York averaged 101.4 points per 100 possessions last season, 19th in the league, but with Stoudemire and Anthony on the floor together, that number dropped down to 95.0.
If the Knicks are going to win, it is a must that these two find a way to play with each other. If they don’t, this team doesn’t stand a chance.
1. Can ‘Melo handle the pressure to win in New York?
He has the team that he wants. He has the coach that he wants. Now it is up to ‘Melo to get the job done.
Now that LeBron James has a ring, ‘Melo becomes the target of the same criticism that followed LeBron for the past few years. He’s the best player in the NBA yet to win a ring and there won’t be a day during the season that he won’t be reminded of that; or the fact that he’s only led a team out of the first round of the playoffs on one occasion during his nine years in the NBA.
The pressure of not winning had an effect on LeBron until he led the Heat to a championship and James wasn’t trying to win in New York, which is another animal Anthony must deal with altogether. There will be a lot of doubters along the way about Anthony’s ability to lead and if he struggles and crumbles under the pressure, the former Syracuse product will have a lot to answer for.