Bench – J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire, Beno Udrih, Kenyon Martin/Jason Terry, Andre Kirilenko, Andray Blatche, Alan Anderson, Reggie Evans, Shaun Livingston
Both the Knicks and the Nets have very deep benches filled with experienced players who could make a case to start on many teams. The Nets bench seems to be a bit more coherent – you can see clear backups at every position. The Knicks’ bench is a little bit more “clunky”, filled with question marks (How do you get both Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani minutes?) and a few too many one-way players.
Coaching – Mike Woodson/Jason Kidd
Since taking over for Mike D’Antoni at the end of the 2011-2012 season, Mike Woodson has a very impressive 72-34 record coaching the Knicks. By all accounts he is very well respected in the locker room, and was able to get through to some of the more thick-skulled players on the team (I’m looking at you J.R.). With the Knicks returning many of the same players as last year, they should benefit from increased chemistry due to roster continuity and players already familiar with Woodson’s strategies.
The Nets on the other hand are adding quite a few new pieces this year – perhaps most notably, a new head coach. No one knows if they’ll be able to successfully integrate Garnett, Pierce and Terry, or whether a first-year head coach is the right man for the job. Count me in the skeptical camp, although if anyone can make the direct leap from player to head coach, it’s Jason Kidd. That he has to integrate these players to a core which lost as a favorite in the first round (in a Game 7 at home, nonetheless, with their opponent missing it’s best two players) makes the task all the more challenging.
For those scoring at home, that’s a 4-3 advantage to the Nets.
The Knicks are what they are. Barring an injury to Anthony, they’ll likely win 50 or more games again and be in the top half in the East.
The Nets, on the other hand, have a much wider range of potential outcomes – they could completely implode or they could challenge for the top seed in the East. They have assembled quite a roster from a talent standpoint, however so did last year’s Los Angeles Lakers.
Nobody knows how it will fit together or whether Kidd is the right man for the job. For now, it’s a slight advantage to the Nets with that caveat. Perhaps we’ll revisit the topic later this season – we all know this won’t be the last that’s said about the Knicks/Nets rivalry.