There is a sudden energy flowing back into the New York/ New Jersey area and it’s the unexpected reemerging NBA franchises in the metropolitan area. The Knicks and Nets have all of a sudden stopped being the overlooked teams of and just outside the city, and have become teams of relevance again.
The New York Knicks have been in the gutter and made headlines for all of the wrong reasons for basically the entire decade. The Knicks haven’t finished a season over .500 since the 00-01 season and have been dragged through the mud with constant negative storylines like Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury. But all of a sudden there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the New York Knicks. With the tremendous coaching job done thus far from newly appointed head coach Mike D’Antoni and the opening of some major cap space after the 09-10 season, the “Quest” has built a lot of momentum. Yes, 2010 is a while away, but D’Antoni has proved that he can produce a team that cannot only entertain but win some basketball games in the mean time. Though the playoffs are still an option, it seems like it will just be too much of a hill to climb for the Knicks this season. But after another good draft pick and a year under D’Antoni’s system, the Knicks are likely to see the playoffs next season right before they make the headlines for a big spending spree in the summer of 2010.
The face of the Knicks has to be the head coach Mike D’Antoni at the moment, but multiple players have really stepped up this season and proven their worth. Lets start with the dynamic duo of Nate Robinson and David Lee. Nate Robinson has become a well-known commodity across the league because of his electricity and show stopping ability. He’s a fixture on all highlight shows and has proven that he is not afraid to take on any moment, shot, or player in the league. David Lee has quietly solidified himself as the double-double king of the NBA. He is a hustler and a player who can be relied on to give 110% throughout his time on the court. Unfortunately for the Knicks both of these guys are free agents at the end of the season, and rumor has it that only one of these two fan favorites will be able to stay with the budget management in preparation for the 2010 off season. The other three main contributors for the Knicks have been Al Harrington, Wilson Chandler, and Chris Duhon. Al Harrington brings the constant 3-point shooting threat, Chandler the versatility to get to the rim, and Duhon the court leader and playmaker that runs the masters offense. And then there is the young draft pick, Danilo Gallinari. The potential of this youngster excites the crowd, as he is a spectacular shooter who will be a key piece to the rise of the Knicks franchise back to its prominence in the near future.
The New Jersey Nets obviously don’t get the same spotlight and attention as the nearby Knicks, but it has become no secret that their youth movement and recent front office moves have been nothing but successful for the franchise. Led by Devin Harris and Vince Carter the Nets have brought solid promising youngsters into the mix, that are sure to brighten the franchise’s future, wherever it may call home. Yi Jianlian, Ryan Anderson, and Chris Douglas-Roberts are the youth additions to this franchise that the Nets are hoping to provide the surroundings to Devin Harris and Brooks Lopez. Harris has established himself as a top five, point guard in the league and looks like he is still improving. And Lopez has shown the promise the Nets were looking for when they drafted him, and is almost certain to be a legit star amongst big men across the league. The Nets are also clearly on the way up thanks to the bright front office that seems to always get the best of their acquisitions.
Yes, many NBA fans in cities like Los Angeles and Boston might laugh at this current optimism, but it cant be ignored that all metropolitan area sport fans are starting to find it necessary to flip through the Knicks and Nets games every night in recent times. It seems you can always count on an exciting game and finish even if they come up on the losing end. Despite the fact that both of these squads are under .500 they are both currently in the hunt for a playoff berth with the Nets only 2 games out of the 8th seed and the Knicks only 1.5 games out.
So it may seem a bit optimistic, but one thing is for certain the Metropolitan area has definitely taken a big step forward in their NBA progression and it looks that soon both of these franchises will be back to being East contenders, where they belong.