NBA Predictions: Can Knicks Remain Top Team in New York?
by Aaron Smith - 8/29/2013
The New York Knicks have always been New York City’s team, but this squad has some real competition now in the form of the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn wasn’t far behind the Knicks this past season, and the Nets have been one of the most active teams in the offseason. If you think the players don’t care about whether the Knicks are the top team in New York, you would definitely be wrong. There’s an inner-city battle between these two teams, and it’s a budding rivalry that should get more attention in the coming years. The Knicks have Madison Square Garden and the decided edge when it comes to fan support right now, but fan support can be fickle.
The Knicks looked like an unbeatable team at times this past season, but the playoffs showed that this team still is a few steps away. In the 2013-14 season, the Knicks will have to do battle with a much-improved Eastern Conference. The Miami Heat aren’t going anywhere, and the teams just behind them are all better. The Pacers, Bulls, and Nets have all made their team better by a significant margin in the offseason. Are the Knicks going to be better in the year ahead? Let’s take a closer look.
Trading for Bargnani
The Knicks haven’t made any huge moves in the offseason that have gotten a ton of attention, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any changes. New York traded away Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, two second-round picks, and a first-round pick to get Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand that trade. Bargnani has shown that he can score in the NBA, and he is a good outside shooter, but that isn’t what the Knicks need. Trading away three players as well as three draft picks for one player who hasn’t proven all that much in the NBA seems highly questionable at best.
Other Offseason Moves
The Knicks made a couple other moves in the offseason, which I believe could prove to be better moves for the franchise. First, the team brought Metta World Peace back to his hometown. World Peace may be a bit off color, but he does fight extremely hard on the defensive end, and the Knicks need someone to man up and play some hard-nosed defense on the opponents’ best scorer. He certainly isn’t the defender he was a few years ago, but World Peace will be an instant upgrade defensively for the Knicks.
Beno Udrih was also brought in to play the backup point guard spot now that Jason Kidd has retired to go coach in Brooklyn. Udrih is a solid reserve who should do a good job leading the second unit. J.R. Smith had an up-and-down season last year, but overall he was definitely a solid contributor for this team. Smith was re-signed to a three-year deal in the offseason.
The Defense Must Improve
The Knicks obliterated the NBA record for most made three-point shots last year, but long-range jumpers don’t often win NBA titles. The Miami Heat may not play the best defense on a nightly basis. However, when it gets down to business in the NBA Playoffs, the Heat are capable of playing lock-down defense. The Pacers and Bulls are both extremely good defensive teams as well.
Two years ago the Knicks were the fifth-best defensive team in the NBA as Tyson Chandler led the way down low. This past season the Knicks slipped down to No. 18 in defensive efficiency. It’s hard to win in the playoffs when you are no better than mediocre on the defensive end. Chandler wasn’t the same force in the paint since he was constantly playing injured, and moving forward if the Knicks are going to be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs they definitely need a healthy Chandler.
NBA Predictions: New York Knicks Futures Odds
The oddsmakers aren’t as high on the Knicks in the upcoming season. BetOnline has listed the Knicks at +1,100 to win the Eastern Conference. According to odds from Bovada, the Knicks are 22/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.
The rest of the Eastern Conference is getting better, and I’m not sure the Knicks are moving forward at all. The acquisition of Bargnani leaves lots of questions about where he will fit in with Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. There are a lot of shoot-first players on this team, and there is only one basketball.
If the Knicks are serious about winning in the year ahead, they should probably try to make another move before the season gets underway. New York would be well-suited to look for a player who can create for the rest of the offense and excel on the defensive end. As it stands right now, it looks like there are plenty of teams passing up the Knicks, and that list includes their rivals in Brooklyn.
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