With preseason basketball almost underway and the start of the regular season about 3 weeks away, it's time to start getting excited for the Knicks 2012-13 campaign. I'll be covering the Knicks all season so keep it here for all basketball coverage here at 1st and 10. The Knicks battled a ton of injuries, went through a coaching change midway through the lockout shortened season, and finally ended their 13 game playoff losing streak. The Knicks opted to let point guard Jeremy Lin go to the Houston Rockets and have now stacked their team with a lot of veteran players. Here all my bold predictions for their upcoming season:
Carmelo Anthony will get his field goal percentage back to 45% and compete for the MVP award:
Carmelo Anthony struggled at times last season for several reasons. One, like many NBA players he battled through various injuries because of the condensed schedule and was never able to get to his usual consistent level of play. Two, because he was in and out of the lineup during major changes with Lin taking over as the starting point guard and then Mike Woodson replacing Mike D'Antoni as head coach it wasn't until very late in the season that it looked like Melo was really comfortable and in form. It's clear that he has at his best when he controls the pace of the offense and is able to create his own shot first and then distribute to his teammates when he receives more attention. Last season he shot .430 from the field which was his lowest number since second year in the NBA (shot .431). Because Lin is now gone, it's safe to assume that in Mike Woodson's offense Anthony will control the offense and the fact that he will be in good shape following his Olympic Gold campaign and a full preseason, his numbers will be higher than the 22.6 points a game he averaged last year. He is the complete leader of this team now and I think that fares well for his production this year.
Amare Stoudemire will have a bounce back season:
Yes, I understand the above statement is a bit vague so let me explain what I personally think is reasonable to expect from Stoudemire this season. He had a rough year last year both physically and mentally. Coming off of a herniated disc in the 2011 playoffs, Amare bulked up to 260 pounds during the lockout to compensate for his back. Because of this he lost his explosive step and was simply just stiffer and could not play like himself. That along with the death of his brother Hazell was really taking a toll on Amare. He worked out during the offseason with all time great Hakeem Olajuwon and made it a goal of his to add more to his post game to fit better in the Knicks offense. Stoudemire averaged 17,5 points and 7.8 rebounds which were his lowest totals since his rookie season. He and Carmelo Anthony still have not had many long stretches in which they've both been on the court at the same time so I think with a clearer direction for the team and a full offseason will pay dividends for Amare. The key for him is going to be if he can stay healthy and I think the acquisitions of Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, etc will allow him to take less of a beating over an 82 game schedule. My final predictions for his season would be to score 19+ points a game and average at least 8 rebounds going back to a field goal % over 50. If the Knicks can get this consistency from Amare, it'll be huge.
New York Knicks finish in the top 10 in field goal % defense, points allowed:
This is definitely a very likely occurence for this Knicks team. The focus in the offseason was to add more defense and they certainly got that with key backups such as Marcus Camby and Ronnie Brewer. With Mike Woodson as head coach for the later part of last season it was common for the Knicks to hold teams under 90 points and for the season held their opponents to 94.7 points which should definitely go down even more this season. The only glaring defensive lapse for the Knicks last year was their 3 point % allowed. They gave up a 35.9 3 point % last year which was in the bottom part of the league. They already were around the top 10 in major defensive categories last season so I see no reason that they won't be better this year defensively, except for major injuries of course.
New York Knicks finish with 45+ wins and win one playoff series:
This is my final prediction for the Knicks this year. The past 2 years the Knicks have finished over .500 and with a full offseason together and a deeper defensive rotation than in year's past, I think its safe to say the Knicks will finish with at least 45 wins. At the moment, I can't see that number going any higher than 50 as a best case scenario for them (no injuries) so I figured 45 would be a realistic benchmark to set as a fan. There aren't any major distractions and I think Woodson's defense first approach over the course of an 82 game schedule will lead this team to better things this season. How high up they finish in the Eastern Conference really depends on how their division plays out first since every team really has a chance to improve. The real key though for the Knicks will be to finish anywhere in the 3-5 seed in the conference. That will set them up with a more favorable first round matchup and I think the most realistic goal for the team would be to advance at least once in this season's playoffs which they have failed to do in 10+ years. Miami and Boston are still strong and then comes the rest of the pack with teams like Indiana, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Chicago so it should be an interesting race all year.
Thanks for reading my bold predictions for the New York Knicks and look for my coverage to start when the season begins November 1st.