With the New York Knicks all settled in as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, it’s time to talk championship.
No, I’m not talking about a first round win. I’m also not talking about “well hopefully we put a fight up in the second round’ or even “Hey there’s no shame in losing to the Heat.”
None of that. If a Knicks team is ever going to win a championship, this is the team. This is the season that Knicks fans have been waiting for.
Here are some reasons why the Knicks are legitimate contenders:
Urgency: This Knicks team wasn’t supposed to win the Atlantic Division or finish in second place in the conference. The Brooklyn Nets were supposed to take over the city. They weren’t supposed to go 3-1 against the Heat. Carmelo Anthony wasn’t supposed to win his first career scoring title. You aren’t supposed to be able to win with a player like J.R. Smith. The Knicks were supposed to look stupid for letting Jeremy Lin walk. They heard what people were saying about them and made them eat their own words. This Knicks team is hungry for a title and to prove everyone wrong.
Depth: We all know Anthony runs the show in New York but a lot of players besides ‘Melo have stepped it up big time this season. J.R. Smith has become a legitimate scoring threat and is deadly at the end of the game. Kenyon Martin gives the Knicks team much needed depth in the paint and is an instant spark on both ends of the floor. You don’t want to leave Steve Novak open beyond the arc and Chris Copeland has developed a great offensive game. Pablo Prigioni gives Mike Woodson very smart minutes and Iman Shumpert is starting to consistently hit his shots and play defense. A lot of players besides the big guns are getting it done for the Knicks.
Jason Kidd: He might not record a triple-double in his sleep like he used too, but Kidd has had a monumental impact on this team. Like he did in Dallas, Kidd has mentored the young players and been a leader for this team. Anthony gives him constant praise on how he has watched Kidd mentally and physically prepare for games. Kidd understands the concept of defense and teamwork. You rarely see Kidd make a mistake or a turnover. He takes smart shots and isn’t afraid to take the big shot.
J.R. Smith: Smith has emerged a frontrunner for the Sixth Man of the Year award and is at times unguardable. Smith is the definition of a streaky shooter, but lately he has been on fire. In the playoffs, opposing defenses tighten up and it’s going to take elite scorers to get it done. Smith is the Knicks second best scorer and is at times just as great as a scorer as Anthony. A player like Smith can win you a game or two and be a momentum shifter in a seven-game series.
Tyson Chandler: A championship center is hard to find and the Knicks are happy he is on their side. Chandler might be the best low-post defender and is an elite rebounder. He is a fantastic leader and with him and Kidd’s championship success in the past, you know Chandler isn’t afraid of anyone, especially LeBron & friends.
Carmelo Anthony: Anthony has been on a tear, showing he can carry a team to the promise land. He is the best or one of the best overall scorers in the league today. Carmelo definitely has a chip on his shoulder and will look to prove he is in the top class of NBA players. He knows he needs a ring to be put in the conversation and he will be cemented in New York history if he leads a parade through the Canyon of Heroes. Carmelo will show heart and do whatever it takes to bring a championship to New York City.