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Emergence of Lin makes Knicks contenders

Posted By Michael Burke On Feb 15 2012 @ 10:51 pm In New York Knicks | No Comments

A win over the Kings tonight is not only the seventh in a row for the Knicks, and not only does it bring them back to .500 after a dreadful 8-15 start; it proves something. It proves that the Knicks are officially back, meaning the New York Knicks are true contenders. Yes, I said it, the Knicks are contenders.

After so many nights of Jeremy Lin doing everything—Lin averaged nearly 27 points per game in the Knicks’ previous six wins—tonight was about what he did not do.

He did not shoot the ball 20 times, as he had averaged in the past six games, but instead he focused on his role of being that true point guard and distributor that the Knicks desperately need him to be. Lin was spectacular in getting his teammates involved tonight, as he dished out a season high 13 assists.

This isn’t to say that there will never be nights that Lin should go out and score 25 to 30 points, but, especially with Carmelo Anthony returning soon, that is not and will not be his role; his role will be to do just what he did tonight, run the offense and get as many guys involved as possible.

It was perhaps the best game of team basketball that the Knicks have played all year—seven different men scored in double digits. Amar’e Stoudemire added 11, Bill Walker scored 14, Landry Fields had 15, 10 came from Jared Jeffries, 14 from Steve Novak, and 11 from Iman Shumpert.

Seeing the Knicks play like this, having won seven in a row, should make any fan wonder if this team is a contender. To me, the answer is undoubtedly yes.

Allow me to pose one question: do the Knicks really have a definitive weakness?

In Jeremy Lin, they have the true point guard that could not be more necessary in a Mike D’antoni offense. They have the superstar that can take the shot with the game on the line and score 25+ points a night in Carmelo Anthony. They have a superstar in Amar’e Stoudemire who fits absolutely perfectly in this offense. They have a dominate big man and rebounder in Tyson Chandler, not to mention his shot blocking ability. In Landry Fields they have a very solid two guard to complement Lin. In Steve Novak they have a knockdown three point shooter that is very key for a team that loves to shoot from beyond the arc. They have veteran leadership in Mike Bibby and Baron Davis. And lastly, they have a good bench with guys like Iman Shumpert, Bill Walker, and my personal favorite player, Jared Jeffries. Not to mention the fact that Baron Davis could be a very good player off the bench.

Of course, there are going to be those who say that Carmelo Anthony cannot coexist with Jeremy Lin and succeed in this offense, but as I have said before, that is absurd to me.

The whole reason the Knicks struggled this year was not due to Carmelo Anthony; it was due to the fact that the Knicks did not have a true point guard, which is incredibly, incredibly vital in a Mike D’antoni offense. A Mike D’antoni offense cannot succeed without a point guard, so don’t blame early season failures on Carmelo, blame it on the lack of a point guard.

Yes, there are going to be those who say the Knicks can’t rebound or play defense well enough to succeed in the postseason. My counter argument to that is that, if you check the statistics, the Knicks are an average defense team this year, which is much better than people realize, and guys who play good defense, like Iman Shumpert and Jared Jeffries, are going to get significantly more playing time come postseason. As for the rebounding, yes the Knicks get outrebounded quite often, but rarely are they dominated on the glass, and, with a guy like Tyson Chandler, it really does not concern me too much.

The excitement for this team could not be higher—this city breathes basketball, and they finally have a Knick team to be proud of.

The New York Knicks are back.

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