I think for the first time in about 10 years, we can say that the New York Knicks are a basketball TEAM. Not a group of individuals trying to pad their stats and earn a large paycheck, but a TEAM of players who are working together in order to achieve one common goal. When one player goes down, someone else or the entire team collectively steps up. This was obviously evident in Thursday night’s showdown against the Miami Heat when the Knicks shot the Heat fans out of the American Airlines Arena until the only fans left standing were Knicks’ faithful. The Knicks nearly defeated Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls in Chicago with a lineup of 3-point shooters. The fact that the Knicks were able to go 2-1 on the road without Carmelo or Amar’e against 2 Eastern power houses speaks to the pride and resolve of this year’s Knicks. Just imagine how good the Knicks will be when they are back to 100% full strength when Carmelo Anthony is healthy, Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert have returned, and Marcus Camby is healthy and ready to play about 20 minutes per game. Adding those guys to a 15-5 team that has had to play the 4th toughest schedule in the NBA thus far should be a scary thought to the opposition.
While some analysts and fans believe that the return of Amar’e Stoudemire will be detrimental to the team, Amar’e should improve the Knicks like any 6-time all-star should. Amar’e’s new low post game should make him a go-to-guy whenever he’s on the court, especially if Melo’s on the bench. Carmelo has been the Knicks’ only source of a low post game so it would be nice to have another dominant post player available so the Knicks’ don’t have to resort to long-range shots whenever Melo needs a breather. Putting a dominant post player on the court in Stoudemire will most likely force double teams and leave a shooter like Novakaine or J.R. Swish open for 3. With Melo and STAT’s dominant post games and the Knicks’ deadly 3-point shooters, the Knicks have the potential to be one of the best inside-out teams in the league.
The return of 21 Shump Street will undoubtedly improve the Knicks on both sides of the floor. Everyone knows that Shumpert is a lock-down perimeter defender, but his offensive game should improve tremendously when he comes back given all the time he has spent working with shooting guru Dave Hopla. Adding another 3-point threat will just be icing on the cake at this point as this gives defenses just another poison to pick from. Not to mention, Shumpert is still one of the most athletic players in the league and hopefully when he returns, he still has the strength in his knees to get to the basket if his shot isn’t falling.
The entire sports world has already been put on notice as the New York Knicks have proven to be contenders a month into the season. They have reached a 15-5 record when their primary sources of offense have just been Melo and 3-point shooting. Stoudemire will give the Knicks another dominant scoring option and someone who can create opportunities for the Knicks’ shooters, while Shumpert should provide the Knicks with staunch defense, athleticism and an improved perimeter shooter. When the Knicks are fully healthy, who knows how well this team can play? Wow, watch out NBA.