Contenders, I say, Contenders!

Wow, the fanpost section has gotten crowded. I feel like Deron Williams being overshadowed by Jeremy Lin.. Except not nearly so pissy. What do I care? Lin is awesome and the Flinposts are expected and appreciated, even though I'm kind of saturated myself.

Anyways, I read this article today (click on "this article", silly!) and it suddenly clicked for me: I think the Knicks could go all the way. Now, is it likely in their first season together? Maybe not. But they have all my earmarks of a championship team in place.

1. Defensive identity.

With Tyson Chandler in the middle, Shump at the perimeter, and Jeffries and Jorts backing up the frontcourt spots, the Knicks have good defensive players. But most importantly, they also have defensive buy-in from their not-so-defensively-talented offensive stars, Carmelo and Amar'e. It seems like Lin is also a capable defender who has a great sense of when to pounce on a floundering opposing player for the steal. A guy like J.R. Smith could conceivably disrupt this kind of chemistry, but I think there are enough guys buying in that everyone will keep in line.

2. A Floor General

I will pat myself on the back for recognizing pre-linsanity that this guy had something... but even I am shocked by just how in-command (un, Lin-command) the kid is out there. Lin is fearless, has balls to spare, and makes big plays when the Knicks need them, and they all rally behind him. Especially Jeffries, in a borderline uncomfortable way. Even Baron Davis, which leads me to...

3. Depth at Every Position, with Complementary Skills

It's a 48 minute game, and even if a team can field a great lineup, games against great teams are often decided by wasted possessions. A team is exploited by the weakest link in its chain. Before Lin came on, point guard and floor leadership was the Knicks big missing link. Now, with Davis returning with a good attitude, it's suddenly a strength for every second of the game.

At shooting guard, Landry brings intangibles, intelligence, rebounding, and opportunism to the position. He's a willing if unspectacular defender, but alternatively Shumpert brings a trancendant defensive quality as well as an electrifying offensive presence. That presence can be a little short on range, however. But J.R. Smith brings 3 point shooting to the position. Three guys at shooting guard, all who bring something a little different, all who can slide over to the 3.

At small forward, Melo seems to be proving he is happy coexisting with Lin and doing what the game dictates. Watch out, people. Teams are going to actually forget about Carmelo for a second, and he's going to do something great with that second. Backed up by one of the three guys who also play shooting guard, or possibly 3 pt marksman Steve Novak at times, the Knicks have a varied selection of skill combinations to throw out at the wing positions.

At power forward, Amar'e may or may not have lost some athleticism. But the guy can still play, and I think he will get better as the season moves forward. Again, people are going to lose track of this guy on occasion. Even if he doesn't dominate, he'll get plenty of opportunites. And his rebounding has been quietly excellent this year. Backing him up, Jeffries has settled into a great role as a defensive and intangible expert out there. His offensive woes don't hurt the Knicks as much with their added firepower. Novak can also play here, stretching the floor. Jorts is a guy who has also shown the ability to hit from outside, but his defensive smarts and quickness give them kind of an intermediate look between Jeffries and Amar'e.

At center, Tyson just simply provides you with everything you really need from a center. Bigger and more athletic than most centers, he rebounds, defends, and leads on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, he doesn't demand the ball but has great hands and can finish with the best of them. And he hits foul shots at a pretty good clip. Backing Tyson up, we have Amar'e sliding over to the 5, where he has been very effective in his career. We could also see Jorts here on occasion. Jerome Jordan has a chance of being decent, if a little of Tyson can rub off on him.

That said, the team suffers a bit if Tyson gets into foul trouble, which he tends to. Because of Tyson's importance to the defensive and rebounding aspect of the game, losing Tyson for big stretches hurts them a lot.

Also, it seems like Shump is their real ace in the hole when it comes to perimeter D and slowing down opposing point guards. If Shump is out due to injury or foul trouble, they could be exploited.

But those are weak links to their depth, not to their front line of guys. And hopefully, the return of Jorts will help their situation when Tyson is in foul trouble. Also, I think that in certain situation we may see Toney come in if Shump can't, trying to bother an opposing perimeter player. Therein, I think, lies the key to TD's salvation - Defense.

4. A Preponderance Of Good Quality, Team Oriented Individuals

Though the Knicks have a couple of guys that could possibly be attitude problems, like Smith and Bully and maybe Davis and maybe Melo, overall the team is full of good team guys. It's just a nice enviornment, and guys tend to become better players and better peopel in those types of enviornments.

So could the Knicks knock off the Heat and Bulls and whoever else? I think they could. Not to say they will, but they could. If not this year, then perhaps next? I'm looking forward to it.

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