At this time two years ago, most Knick fans would tell you that the only way their team would contend anytime soon would be if they landed LeBron James in the upcoming summer. After signing Amar’e Stoudemire in early July, these same fans were hopeful that James would come to New York, but, as we all know, he decided to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
Suddenly, things once again did not look too bright for the Knicks. Through the first 54 games of the season, the Knicks were an above average and very respectable team, but nowhere near elite status, as they still only had one superstar in a star-driven league.
This all changed though on February 22nd of 2011, quite possibly one of the most important days in the franchise’s history, when they acquired Carmelo Anthony in a three team, twelve player deal that also sent point guard Chauncey Billups to New York.
Despite the blockbuster trade, things did not immediately get better in New York, as the Knicks were swept by the Celtics in the first round.
It was very apparent all season that the Knicks biggest issues included defense and rebounding. With the recent signing of Tyson Chandler, former Maverick, the Knicks quickly addressed both of these issues. Chandler will fill the Knicks biggest needed at the center position, and should make immediate impacts on both sides of the ball.
New York has not stopped there though, as they have reportedly signed point guard Mike Bibby (after waiving Chauncey Billups), and are also currently going after J.J. Barea.
If all of these pieces fall into place in New York, the Knicks could become Eastern conference contenders. The Celtics aren’t getting any younger, and the Bulls are just flat out overrated.
The one team the Knicks should fear though, of course, is the Miami Heat. The Heat are the defending Eastern conference champs, and will enter this year as the conference’s favorites, and deservedly so.
However, the Knicks certainly could give the Heat a run for their money, and could possibly be their biggest threat. So, let’s see how the Knicks could stack up against Miami.
If the Knicks can acquire J.J. Barea, they will certainly have the edge at the point guard position over a Heat team that will most likely start Mario Chalmers, especially after losing Mike Bibby to none other than the Knicks. As far as the Knicks situation goes, Barea is one of the most scrappy players in the league, and will bring much needed postseason experience. If they do not get Barea, Toney Douglas will likely start. Even if this is the case, the Knicks still have the advantage, as Douglas has a much higher ceiling than Chalmers.
As far as the two guard position goes, the Heat have the clear advantage with Dwyane Wade over Landry Field of the Knicks. With that said, however, Landry Fields is one of the bright young talents in the league and is in no way a weakness on this team.
Knick small forward Carmelo Anthony is arguably the team’s best player, but unfortunately for him, the Heat’s small forward, LeBron James, is the league’s best player. The success of these teams will heavily rely on whether or not Carmelo and LeBron can perform in the postseason, as the ball will often be in their hands in big moments, and we saw that when LeBron could not come through in the clutch, the Heat could not win. The same very well could be the case for the Knicks with Carmelo.
Furthermore, two more superstars can be found at the power forward position for each of these teams, and this is probably the closest match up. However, Amar’e Stoudemire of the Knicks has the slight advantage over the Heat’s Chris Bosh. Stoudemire proved that he can be the number one option on a successful team when he was without Carmelo Anthony last year. Chris Bosh has never done such a thing, as his Raptor teams never had too much success. This is with no disrespect to Bosh though, as he has proven that, despite the number of doubters he has, he has the capability of being an elite player in this league.
The center position is the biggest advantage for the Knicks, where recently acquired Tyson Chandler will play. The Heat’s situation at center is very unclear, but they will likely be starting Joel Anthony. Clearly the Heat’s biggest hole, they will need to address this position.
The benches are pretty weak for both teams, but the Heat have a slight advantage after the recent addition of Shane Battier. Battier will add much needed depth to Miami, while Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Eddie House are other notable players that will come off their bench. The bench for the Knicks will consist Toney Douglas, first round pick Iman Shumpert, and Bill Walker. They will also likely bring back a few of their free agents(Anthony Carter, Shawne Williams, and Jared Jeffries) to round out the bench.
As for the head coaches, Erik Spoelstra is, by my standards, a superior coach to Mike D’antoni. The Knicks should get ride of D’antoni as soon as possible, as the guy really does hold them back. They have never been able to play defense, and he doesn’t know how to coach defense. It just is not a good fit, and you cannot succeed in this league if you do not play defense, and D’antoni makes it difficult to do so.
The Heat have the advantage in four of the seven categories, and ultimately are a better team. I would even say their starting lineup as a whole is better than the starting lineup for the Knicks, as LeBron and Wade are enough to give Miami the advantage. The Knicks could certainly challenge the Heat this year, but chances are that, come June, the Heat will be representing the Eastern conference in the NBA Finals.
About the Author
Written by Michael Burke
I'm Mike. I'm 16 and love sports. I'm a Knicks, Yankees, Colts and Notre Dame die-hard. My dream is to cover the Knicks professionally, so I hope that PSB can help me reach that goal. Follow me on twitter: @michaelburke47