The season is upon us so let’s take a look at five questions facing the Knicks.
Knicks beat writer Ian Begley and myself answer five issues heading into the season:
How will Melo's Drama impact the season?
Ian: That depends on how well the Knicks play at the start of the season. If New York struggles, there will be plenty of talk about Carmelo leaving at the end of the season. But if they start the year off with a solid record, as they did last season, the noise won't be as loud.
Ohm: It’s going to hang over the Knicks like a cloud until Carmelo makes his decision. Anytime the Knicks go on a winning or losing streak, people will wonder how it impacts Melo’s thinking of whether he will stay or leave. Everything the Knicks do will have to be with keeping Anthony happy in mind. The odds are likely in favor of Carmelo staying put. But i covered Jason Kidd during his free agency with the Nets and saw how his future followed him and the Nets for the entire season and didn't end until he finally picked the Nets over the Spurs.
Will Bargnani be a boon or a bust?
Ian: If he can knock those shots down -- something he didn't do well last year in Toronto -- I think he can help ease the scoring burden off of Carmelo Anthony. If not, and he struggles early on, he may get swallowed up by vocal criticisms from an impatient fan base.
Ohm: Bargnani has trouble defending and at times staying healthy. But if he can stay healthy and hit shots, the 7-footer can be a major plus in a two-man game playing off Anthony. He likely will never live up to the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick=. But he still can be a major asset and difference-maker for the Knicks, who need another scoring threat to complement Melo and J.R. Smith.
What can we expect from Amar'e?
Ian: If what Mike Woodson said recently is correct, you can expect Amar'e to play about 41 games this season. Of course, the question as always with Stoudemire is this: Will his knees hold up? If they do, Stoudemire can give the Knicks consistent scoring in the post, something they sorely need.
Ohm: Mike Woodson seems to have the right approach to Amar'e and that’s to try to make sure Stoudemire will be healthy and be a contributor in the playoffs. Resting him in back-to-back games and starting him out at 15 minutes a game and building from there seems about right. Even if he only plays every other game, the Knicks just hope Stoudemire will be healthy for the playoffs, when they can use another option down low that can help off the bench.
Do the Knicks have enough on the front line to compete in the East?
Ian: Based on what we know from the preseason, it doesn't seem as if the Knicks have the size to bang with the Chicagos, the Brooklyns and the Indianas. I say that because of the tenuous situation surrounding Amar'e Stoudemire (knee) and Kenyon Martin (ankle), as well as Andrea Bargnani's poor defensive/rebounding metrics.
Ohm: This is a major concern for the Knicks. Perhaps the two most indispensable players the Knicks have are Carmelo and Tyson Chandler. If Chandler gets hurt, the Knicks are awfully thin, with bigs like Kenyon Martin and Amare Stoudemire already nursing injuries. And with Melo playing a lot, and thriving, at power forward, the Knicks are probably going to be smaller than other teams most of the time. Tyson is going to have to stay healthy.
Can the Knicks be a top 10 defense?
Ian: They should be better than last year, thanks to a full season of Iman Shumpert and an infusion of wing defense from Metta World Peace. But with Andrea Bargnani playing major minutes, it's hard to see this team taking a leap from 17th, where they ranked defensively last year, to top 10 this year.
Ohm: MWP certainly helps with defense and Shumpert has the kind of potential to be a terrific defender. But the Knicks will need offense, and the team defense will suffer whenever Bargnani is on the court. Also, Kenyon will help defensively but he may not be available every game as Woodson plans to alternate Martin and Stoudemire to keep them healthy. Health and personnel likely will prevent the Knicks from being a top-10 defense.
Let us know what your take is below.