October 27, 2013
#8 - New York Knicks
Despite popular criticism, last season was a success for the New York Knicks. They won their first playoff series in over a decade, finished second-best in the Eastern Conference, and won the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1994. Improving from last season essentially means now advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. I wrote two weeks ago that I believe this Knicks roster now has somewhat of a tougher build, which is why they are on this list, because two particular acquisitions give me such an impression.
The Knicks traded Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, and draft picks to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Italian forward Andrea Bargnani this summer. The 7-foot center only played 35 games with Toronto last season due to injury, but head coach Mike Woodson knows he has a double-digit scorer and versatile offensive option with Bargnani, who can virtually score from anywhere on the floor. Woodson even expressed a desire in the preseason to experiment with Carmelo Anthony and Bargnani in the front court when Tyson Chandler inevitably hits foul trouble. That then of course becomes a question of Bargnani's defensive responsibilities, which Marc Berman from the New York Post reported yesterday is becoming Bargnani's biggest struggle in his transition. This brings me to the Knicks' other notable acquisition.
Metta World Peace brings tenacity wherever he goes. His motor, effort, and intimidation can certainly help toughen up the mental make-up of this Knicks team, with occasional shot-making and perhaps plenty of post offense to match. I think the Knicks now have a little more offense, not without mentioning their 24th overall draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr., who has not been shy this preseason, and a little more defense. Still, New York needs to find a collective identity with these additions and remain healthy to show why they deserve a shot at the two-time defending champs in the Eastern Conference, as opposed to their much-improved peers. The best way to discourage Carmelo Anthony from indulging in free agency next summer is to find a way to make that leap this season.
Other addition: Ben Udrih
- Martin S. @marley_mcfly