Friday, October 19, 2012
Opening Tip: Can the Knicks win Atlantic?
By Jared Zwerling
Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our “Opening Tip” segment.
Today’s Burning Question: Can the Knicks win the Atlantic Division this season?
Carmelo Anthony hasn't made any guarantees before the season starts. During a recent sit-down interview with ESPNNewYork.com, the Knicks forward said he expected the parity of the Atlantic Division to match the Pacific Divison when he played for the Nuggets.
“(The Atlantic) is wide open,” he said. “I’ve been in the Western Conference for seven and a half years, and every year that’s how it was. Two games separate everybody. You lose one, you fall back, so it keeps you on edge. Now in the East, it seems like that’s the new trend. As long as we do what we have to do, we’ll be fine.”
How the Knicks can establish an advantage in the Atlantic Division:
1. Celtics: While Boston compensated well for the short and long-term losses of Avery Bradley and Ray Allen, who is their backup point guard?
Boston will lean on Rajon Rondo to play heavy minutes, and that may backfire later in the season. In addition to Rondo’s workload, the age of Paul Pierce (35) and Kevin Garnett (36) always plays a factor. Overall, the Celtics’ situation is very similar to the Knicks’; if both teams stay healthy, and Bradley and Iman Shumpert recover well from their injuries, the two longtime rivals should be favorites for the top seed.
The bigger question for Brooklyn is whether or not Brook Lopez, coming off a foot injury, can contribute on offense and on the boards while staying out of foul trouble. Overall, the Nets are deep offensively, but they’ll have to prove themselves on defense.
Although the Nets have D-Will, the Knicks have more depth and experience at point guard, which will boost the team's frontcourt production immediately. Brooklyn's backcourt and frontcourt, on the other hand, will need some more time to develop, especially because it's younger.
3. Sixers: It’ll be interesting to see how Philly jells its new pieces this season.
The 76ers essentially have two different offensive systems: one through center Andrew Bynum and the other through the team’s young perimeter players. If Philadelphia finds a solid offensive balance, the team should be able to score enough points to win most games.
The 76ers' 3-point shooting from Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson will especially make this team dangerous. But losing Andre Iguodala left a big hole on the perimeter. That assignment is now for Turner, who in his third season will be expected to be the team’s main wing player. Depending on how he plays will be key to the team's success.
4. Raptors: The Raptors shouldn’t be knocking too loud on any team's doors this season.
They’re a fairly young team, and star players Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan are still ironing out their chemistry. There’s also concern about Bargnani’s bruised left calf, which cost him 35 games last season. Bargnani admitted that he didn’t come into training camp 100 percent. If the power forward does find his groove, the team's solid point guard trio, featuring Kyle Lowry, Jose Calderon and John Lucas III should help him.
Do you think the Knicks can win the Atlantic? Leave us your comments below.