New York is more than happy to welcome Carmelo Anthony, one of the biggest free agents this off-season, with open arms and a reduced contract but Phil Jackson and the rest of the Knicks organization do not necessarily require the talents of the 30-year-old forward to be able to contend in the Eastern Conference. While injuries, motivation, and team chemistry are all excuses no true player would ever admit as justifications for failure, this season was evident that talent alone is not enough to become a championship team.
The New York Knicks of a season ago, who were not only crowned the Atlantic Division Champions but also the moniker “Heat Killers” for their dominant record over the Miami Heat in the regular season, were a completely different team than the one presented to the NBA this past year. The only main difference, besides inconsistent line-ups and health issues, were only three role players missing from the previous season. So while it seemed as if Jason Kidd and his 2013 Sportsmanship Award could no longer be applied to the most recent performance of the Knicks, New York failed to capture the momentum of the year before and did not reach the playoffs.
The absence of Carmelo Anthony does not mean the absence of talent in New York. There are more than plenty of capable players that can lead New York to the playoffs in a very weak eastern conference. Baring injury, the Knicks team can actually surprise a few television media members as well as NBA fans this season.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. can be a scoring machine if he can be properly facilitated. Averaging over double digits a game in scoring this past season, the NBA First Team All-Rookie member is an offensive weapon under the right circumstances. While a defensive mindset is still being developed, Hardaway is more than capable of leading the new generation of Knicks and will be part of the franchise hopefully for many more years to come.
Iman Shumpert is by far New York’s most promising young talent on the active roster and is a future superstar in the league. The master of the #knickstape has been the heart of New York’s defensive game since day one. As Shumpert begins to hone his offensive skills and becomes comfortable in his zone, Madison Square Garden can be expected to be a smash mouth mecca with Shumpert leading the charge.
J.R Smith can sometimes be considered more of a celebrity than an NBA player, but his talents can clear up any confusion. The Pied Piper of basketball can be very difficult to contain for both the opposition and team mates. J.R Smith has been known to be unsportsmanlike to many players during the course of his tenure in New York. He has committed many costly fouls which have been detrimental to the team’s success in not just the regular season, but in the playoffs as well. Despite his emotional shortcomings, J.R Smith is an important presence on the court and in the locker room for the young team. Many of the younger talents of the team rely on Smith for his veteran cognizance and experience to help the transition from prospects to reliable players.
The New York Knicks may be located in the city that never sleeps, but championship dreams still linger in the minds of every Knickerbocker fan inside New York and out. With the combination of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, an already proven success, the Knicks organization will exceed all media expectations and make a playoff appearance this following season.
Commentary by Hector Carrion