As I am sure it is no secret to anyone, the New York Knicks have started this 2012-2013 season 6-0. That is the franchise’s best start since the 1993-94 season, when the Knicks made it all the way to the NBA finals. Impressively, the Knicks have defeated four solid teams on the way to their perfect start. It all started with a blowout win against the defending champs, the Miami Heat in their first game of the season. The Knicks followed that win up with back to back wins against the Philadelphia 76ers. They defeated the Dirk-less Mavericks, and you can throw in a win against the Orlando Magic. Finally, last night they defeated, the now 7-2 San Antonio Spurs in Texas. The Knicks have been turning heads with this new defensive and sharing philosophy and and look to continue to roll tonight in Memphis, against a very good Grizzlies team. But what has really been the key to the Knicks early success this season? Lets dissect a few moves, acquisitions, and strategies the Knicks have used to their advantage this season.
First thing is first, one of the most important moves the Knicks made that I believe really turned this team into a contender, was the acquisition of veteran point guard Jason Kidd. Kidd has silently been playing outstanding defense and really brings a slew of intangibles to the Knicks team. Kidd may be pushing 40 years of age, but he is the clear cut definition of a savvy veteran. Kidd has brought a sense of
professionalism and integrity to this franchise, something that they desperately needed. To go along with the additions of Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, and Rasheed Wallace, the Knicks have done an outstanding job bringing in veterans who have been there and done that.
Another key part to the success of the Knicks so far is without a doubt the maturity of JR Smith, and the return of Raymond Felton. Smith has looked like a completely different player than he has in his previous eight seasons in the NBA. Known for his shoot first, pass later mentality, Smith has been the complete opposite this season. In an interview earlier this season, Smith spoke about how last season he got caught up in the temptation of the New York City night life, and honestly, how can you blame him? For a 27 year old young man to come home from playing ball in China, to being a star player for the New York Knicks, I am sure it wasn’t very eay to stay out of trouble. Either way, Smith acknowledged that he has grown up this past off season and
has shown that on the court. Becoming one of the Knicks primetime defenders, hustling on both ends of the court, and not chucking up 20 shots every night. Maybe Smith is out to prove Mike Woodson wrong for not giving him the starting shooting guard position, regardless, lets hope it continues. As for Felton, well this goes without saying. Felton picked up right where he left off before he was traded to get Melo in New York. Felton has showed a relentless ability to score the basketball and has been a force on defense. With a backcourt of Felton, Kidd, Smith, Pablo Prigioni, and Iman Shumpert when he returns, this Knicks team sure has upgraded from last season and has people saying, “Jeremy Who?”.
Moving on to the two people who deserve a ton of credit, Carmelo Anthony and Mike Woodson. Let us start with the most full goatee in the NBA, Woodson is looking like an early candidate for Coach of the Year, as he has transformed this team into an immediate contender. Woodson has preached defense and hustle to this team and has cut down their turnover ratio drastically from last season. On MSG last night before the game against the Spurs, Woodson mentioned how he and the coaching staff have a deal with the players. Any game the Knicks turn the ball over more than 13 times, the players run during pratice. If the Knicks are able to turn it over less than 13 times, the coaches will do the running. The Knicks have committed more than 13 turnovers only once this season, and Mike Woodson is looking like he is in great shape. The Knicks actually lead the NBA with the least amount of turnovers per game at 10. As if that isn’t enough, the Knicks are second in the league in points per game and points allowed per game. Now moving on to our captain, Carmelo Anthony. Melo has followed JR Smith in the sense that another score first player is looking like he has bought into the team philosophy. Melo has been seen so far this season, diving over the benches, rolling around on the floor, and hustling back on players to block an opposing player from behind. Ok, I will admit, he does still dog it, SOMETIMES, but not nearly as much as he used to going back to his days in Denver. I truly believed when I said playing in London with Lebron, Kobe, Durant, and others, that Melo would have a wake up call, maybe even get a little jealous. He has shown so far this season that he is not just a player that can score with the best, but can play all aspects of the
game. He has not forced up nearly as many shots as he did last season and when he is off, like last night against San Antonio he cools it. Although he was triple teamed every time he got the ball, Melo was able to contribute in other ways against the Spurs. Coming into last night, Anthony was the NBA scoring leader. He only was able to manage 9 points in last nights game, but added 12 rebounds. Yes, Carmelo Anthony pulled down more rebounds than he had points. Now let me ask you, would you expect the Knicks to go into San Antonio, have Carmelo drop only 9 points, and walk out of there with a win? I think not. This Knicks team has something special going for them, and I look forward to seeing what their future holds. Things don’t get any easier tonight, as they travel to play a Memphis Grizzlies team that looks like it could be a force in the Western Conference. Regardless of the outcome tonight, lets get behind our Knicks! As any true Knicks fan knows, this opportunity doesn’t come around very often.
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