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Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Top 10 Knicks' New Year's resolutions

By Jared Zwerling

Clearly, the No. 1 New Year's resolution for the Knicks is to get healthy. Right now, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Rasheed Wallace are all dealing with injuries.

Amar'e Stoudemire
The No. 1 Knicks resolution? To get Stoudemire and the rest of the team healthy.
Here are nine other improvements the Knicks need to make heading into the New Year, starting with No. 9:

9. More D from Chris Copeland -- The rookie can flat out score -- with the 3, off the dribble, or with crafty drives to finishes inside in traffic. His versatility with players out has been useful. But once everyone returns, if he can't D up, he may not play as much.

8. More Steve Novak and Ronnie Brewer -- Both forwards were effective in November, but in December, Novak couldn't get open and Brewer could barely make a 3-pointer. Because they've been nonexistent on offense, Copeland has stolen minutes from both of them.

7. Monitoring Jason Kidd's minutes -- When Felton went to the IR, the Knicks knew two things at the same time: they needed more from Kidd (production-wise), but less from Kidd (minutes-wise). They could struggle at times between when to use or rest the 39-year-old.

6. Turnovers -- Talk of Felton's poor shooting got in the way of his playmaking. His ability to connect with Chandler and feed his teammates was huge. When he was on the court, the Knicks' turnover percentage was 11.3, but in their past two games, it's soared to 15.0.

5. Rebounding -- The Knicks are averaging a third-worst 39.8 boards per game. A lot of that has to do with Anthony, Stoudemire, Camby and Wallace all missing time due to injuries. Chandler needs more interior help, and he should get some as early as New Year's Day.

4. Setting rotations -- Perhaps on Tuesday, Anthony and Stoudemire will be back. While it's obvious where Melo fits in, Mike Woodson needs to determine STAT's position. Then, other players will return. Woody has his work cut to develop on-court balance and off-court serenity.

3. 3-point defense -- Before Felton was out, the Knicks were already bad guarding 3-pointers (36.6 percent). But in the past two games without him, it's been 45.1 percent. Opponents want to take advantage of Kidd's age, so his perimeter teammates need to step up their rotations.

2. Pick-and-roll defense -- In terms of points per play allowed, the Knicks rank 22nd defending the pick-and-roll ball-handler and 21st defending the roll man. They've allowed a total of 752 points this season on pick-and-roll plays, including passes -- 7th-most in the NBA.

1. Better defensive starts -- Early on, the Knicks had an average first-quarter scoring margin over plus-4.0. Now, it's at plus-1.1 with their poor defensive effort at the jump. In fact, their opponents in the last five games have won the opening periods. And the Knicks went 2-3.

Where would you like to see the Knicks improve? Leave us your comments below.

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