Can the Knicks win the Atlantic Division?
EXPERIENCE AND STABILITY REIGN
Linsanity has overshadowed plenty of positives with the Knicks this summer. They actually have a great shot at winning the Atlantic Division next season.
After taking about two weeks off after the playoff loss to the the Heat, Carmelo Anthony worked with renowned pro hoops trainer Idan Ravin and lost 12 pounds. Now, he's playing with Team USA, refining his rebounding and inside game and getting physical with opposing bigs. Tyson Chandler is also gaining valuable experience as the national team's center.
Since the start of June, Amare Stoudemire has been working with a conditioning coach and physical therapist on his lower back, which "feels great," according to his training manager. He's specifically working on his defense -- his biggest deficiency.
One of the Knicks' biggest division rivals, the Sixers, got younger this summer, but not necessarily better. Of course, the Celtics pose the biggest threat, but Ray Allen has left, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are getting older.
The team, overall, has a lot of playoff experience and stability. With Mike Woodson, they went 18-6 to end this past season. That record indicates they can continue winning at a solid rate, especially with their offseason additions.
The Atlantic Division title is in full view.
A LAUNDRY LIST OF QUESTION MARKS
Let's be honest: Plenty has to go right for the Knicks to even have a chance to win the Atlantic.
They need Raymond Felton to revert to the form he showed in 2010, when he averaged 17.1 points and nine assists under Mike D'Antoni.
They need 39-year-old Jason Kidd, a veteran of 18 NBA seasons, to hold up over 82 games.
Same goes for Marcus Camby.
More importantly, New York needs Amare Stoudemire to hit the training camp court healthy and remain so until the end of the year. So that means avoiding injuries, self-inflicted or otherwise.
And, if Stoudemire stays healthy, both he and Carmelo Anthony must find a way to play in better harmony instead of getting in each other's way.
And that's a lot to ask for.
Can J.R. Smith be consistent as the starting shooting guard?
Can Steve Novak be the Novakaine that everyone fell in love with this past season if Mike Woodson runs an offense dominated by isolation sets (less open looks for Novak)?
There is a long list of questions facing the Knicks heading into 2012-13.
All of this is not to suggest that everything will fall apart for the Knicks this year.
But, when considering these question marks in comparison to the Celtics, it's hard not to see Boston as the more stable team heading into next season.