Monday, September 30, 2013

These Aren't Last Year's Knicks

The Wall Street journal
Rafik Dimian

For the Knicks, last season—from November to April, at least—went about as well as anyone could have hoped. Their 54 wins clinched the Atlantic Division and earned the East's No. 2 seed. Because of that, the Knicks will likely face loftier expectations this season, which begins with media day on Monday and the team's first training-camp practice on Tuesday.

There's just one problem: The Knicks will find it difficult to replicate the speedy lineups, historic three-point shooting and league-best ball security that made them contenders last year. Those things, which helped them overcome an injury-riddled roster and subpar defense throughout the regular season, have quietly been undone by a host of key off-season personnel changes.

Perhaps the biggest change to watch this coming year: the glut of power forwards the team has on its 2013-14 roster, and how that logjam impacts the amount of minutes Carmelo Anthony—who dominated from that position—can play there.

Aside from Anthony, the team has at least four key players who figure to be in the rotation at power forward. That would suggest that Anthony—one of the main cogs of the team's spacing-induced, small-ball lineup—will get less time there.

"I could see [playing at power forward] still being incorporated into the game plan. But for the most part, I don't really see it [being like last year]," said Anthony, who led the league in scoring while spending 80% of his playing time at power forward, according to

Anthony, interviewed Friday at his pitch for Degree Men products, pointed out that for all the success the team enjoyed with him at power forward, he played there last season mostly because of injuries to other big men on the roster.

The three-point shooting that helped power the Knicks to the league's third-best offense a season ago also figures to be far less prevalent.

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