Every year, Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog coordinates NBA season previews from all the SB Nation blogs. On Monday, he previewed the Celtics. Yesterday, it was Nets Daily's turn. Today, we take a stab at the Knicks' prospects this season.
Team Name: New York Knicks
Last Year's Record: 36-30
Key Losses: [deep breath] Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Josh Harrellson, Jared Jeffries, Jerome Jordan, Jeremy Lin
Key Additions: Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni, James White
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
A few, I guess. The Knicks' first task was to hire a coach, and they wasted no time or effort (like, not a single other interview) in giving Mike Woodson the permanent job. In early July, Jason Kidd surprised everyone by spurning the Mavericks and signing in New York, presumably to back up Jeremy Lin, who was in the process of meeting with the Houston Rockets.
Soon thereafter, the Knicks re-signed a couple of their own guys. J.R. Smith agreed to return, and Steve Novak got himself a handsome
three four-year deal. They then reached overseas to sign Pablo Prigioni and James White and dealt a bunch of bench players and picks for Marcus Camby, thus crystallizing the point guard spot behind Lin, the center spot behind Tyson Chandler and, we thought, almost the whole roster.
...only Lin hadn't signed yet, and the widely held assumption that New York would match absolutely any offer sheet collapsed on our heads in mid-July. Reports surfaced out of the blue that the Knicks were going to trade for Raymond Felton. We were all like "wow, they really want to be deep at point guard", but it became gradually apparent that Felton had signed on not to spell Lin, but to replace him. After a torturous period of uncertainty, during which the Rockets offered more of a "poison pill" than expected, provoking peeved Knicks officials to lead them on a wild goose chase around Las Vegas, the deed was did. The Knicks dealt their remaining small assets for Felton and Kurt Thomas, then declined Houston's three-year, $25 million offer sheet to Lin. I wept.
Later, they added Ronnie Brewer, and now here we are.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
Well, thanks mainly to Tyson Chandler, New York had a pretty solid interior defense last season. They should only improve in that regard with Marcus Camby around to relieve Chandler when he needs a rest or gets in foul trouble or bites a ref.
Overall, defense was and should remain New York's foremost strength. Iman Shumpert-- New York's most promising, if not most efficient (yet) perimeter defender and turnover-forcer-- is out for a few months, but Ronnie Brewer should be an able replacement, and the prospect of the two of them together just tickles my innards. And while neither Carmelo Anthony nor Amar'e Stoudemire has ever demonstrated the will to defend consistently, we saw some of their best stretches on that end once Woodson took over as coach. Rebounding, too, ought to improve somewhat with Camby on board and (one hopes) better overall health in the frontcourt. The Knicks should once again be a top-five team in defensive efficiency. Now that I've said that, they'll probably come in last.
Oh, and age. New York's new wealth of experience is mostly on the bench, but they'll still be near the top of the league in average age and/or veteran wile. They'll lead the league in viewings of It's Complicated, cargo shorts worn, and colonoscopies.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Shooting is probably the big one. Steve Novak might just be the best in the business (and New York did just add Dave Hopla to their coaching staff), but the Knicks were poor from downtown and from the free throw line last season, and they haven't made any additions to improve on those fronts (though losing Landry Fields may have been a useful subtraction in that regard).
Similarly, New York struggled terribly with committing turnovers last season, and even if they improve (Kidd and Felton should be steadier than Lin was, though they were just as turnover prone last season), they still project to be below average.
4. What are the goals for this team?
I mean, if you ask any of the Knicks themselves, they'll say a championship, but I'd be thrilled with just a real playoff run. Winning a series would be nice. Winning two or three would at least begin to justify the way they've handled business over the last few years.
Overall, though, I think the goal should be to win all the games. They should really try to not lose ever.
5. What will Mike Woodson's offense look like?
The Knicks under Mike Woodson played (and fucked up) a lot of Melo-centric isolation sets, but a lot of that basketball-- postseason included-- took place without Jeremy Lin and/or Amar'e Stoudemire healthy. It'll be interesting to see how Woodson guides the team given a full training camp and a full-ish roster. Melo should still get his number called plenty, but will Woodson try to feed him in different spots (in the post, perhaps) or in different situations? Can Woodson get Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler out from under each other and operating harmoniously? If Woodson can't make progress with that frontcourt, will he change the starting lineup? How will Woodson deploy Raymond Felton, and will those two get along? Will Woodson's beard annex his brain and steer him toward evil? Will Woodson change his first name to "Lance" just because? Lots of questions.