With all of the hustle and bustle of free agency being centered around the Lakers getting Steve Nash, the Heat reloading for a title defense and the Brooklyn Nets looking totally different, a lot has been overlooked, the New York Knicks included.
The Knicks haven’t set the world on fire with deep playoff runs and this offseason has been one where they haven’t even set the headlines on fire with any huge acquisitions. Dwight Howard won’t be a Knick, Steve Nash came close and there isn’t anyone else on the market that will come close to those guys donning Knick blue and orange, but that doesn’t mean they’ve had an offseason worth overlooking.
Jeremy Lin will come back once his offer sheet with Houston gets matched, the Knicks have added Marcus Camby’s defense and shot blocking to a frontline that sorely needs it and the addition of Jason Kidd won’t mean huge numbers but it can certainly be the leadership this team seems to lack.
It’s apparent that the talent with the Knicks is there, the problem seems to be the intangibles that separate a first round exit team and a squad that can make a deep playoff run.
We know Carmelo Anthony will get his points, Tyson Chandler will anchor the defense with skill and rugged ease, Amare Stoudemire may return to form and Jeremy Lin’s marketability and skill will pay huge dividends all around. The key to the Knicks taking that step forward is their bench play.
With Iman Shumpert out for a while with a torn ACL, the Knicks’ perimeter defense and team play will be hindered because Shumpert serves as the glue guy that every good team needs. Steve Novak’s three-point shooting will be ever more important, J.R. Smith’s ability to score whenever he wants to will be an added bonus and we’ll see what other pieces New York adds in order to ensure they get better.
But when you look at the East, the Miami Heat pose the only legitimate threat that leaves for a lot of parity in the conference. The Knicks adding Kidd’s leadership, rugged point guard play and veteran savvy will allow them to play a little more composed in key stretches of the game as they run an offense that isn’t centered around Anthony isolating the ball into oblivion.
Camby’s defensive presence will be more of what Chandler brought last year as the Knicks went from 17th in defensive efficiency in 2011 to 5th in 2012. Shot-blocking, loose balls, post defense and toughness are the things that this Knicks team needs in order to finally get out of the first round.
Going ten years without a playoff win was enough but only one win in the first round of this year’s playoffs won’t serve as a consolation. The Knicks may not have had the best offseason with the biggest names involved, but they certainly had some of the biggest personnel holes that needed to be filled and they’ve done that.
They’ve done a good job with getting big names to play under the New York spotlight, maybe they finally see that some fine tuning of a few key watts is just as important.
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