Playoff Result: Lost in 2nd Round
Key Additions: Metta World Peace (free agent), Andrea Bargnani (trade), Tim Hardaway Jr. (draft)
Key Losses: Chris Copeland (free agent), Jason Kidd (retirement)
Projected 2013-14 Record: 44-38 (6th in East, aka Bo doesn’t trust them)*
What to expect: Am I allowed to say in the “what to expect” section that nobody is exactly sure what to expect? The Knicks are going to be a team that could be so many things. Everything could fall apart. Injuries could hit, the team could tune out Mike Woodson, losses pile up, they miss the playoffs and before you know it Carmelo Anthony is opting out of the final year of his contract and going elsewhere. Things could also go very far into the Knicks favor. Iman Shumpert can make a jump that turns him into a legit 2nd best player on an NBA team, Tyson Chandler can be the Defensive Player of the Year once again, Amare Stoudemire can embrace his 6th man role and lead the 2nd unit with J.R. Smith, creating a strong bench for the Knicks, and Melo could go ballistic to win the MVP. Obviously these are both extremes and both is unlikely to happen. What you have to do with the Knicks is find that good middle ground that fits them.
Expect this team to be firing up 3s with reckless abandon. They led the NBA in 3-point attempts and they’ll probably be up there in attempts again next season. You can also expect more frustrating long 2’s. The addition of Andrea Bargnani, while I think is not as horrible a pickup as others believe, is going to lead to more of those. He can shoot 3’s but he’s probably going to spend more time hanging out inside the arc.
Do not expect a gigantic impact from Metta World Peace. World Peace was a fine addition for the team and I expect him to help the Knicks, but let’s face it; the guy is not what he once was. He’s not the lockdown perimeter defender that gets on his man’s nerves as a game goes on. He’s an average defender with an inconsistent shot. He’ll help the Knicks, but he’s not making them championship contenders.
They’ll be a middle of the road east playoff team. Somewhere in that 4/5 seed round where they have to play the #1 seed in the 2nd round.
Matchup with the Hawks: This is a pretty important matchup for the Hawks. Depending on what happens with Brooklyn, this could very well be that 4/5 matchup in the first round. While the matchup is in favor of the Knicks, the Hawks aren’t that far behind them. They could easily steal a game or two from the Knicks, especially if they catch them on a back-to-back.
In the frontcourt the best way the Hawks are going to exploit the Knicks is with Paul Millsap. Millsap is bigger and stronger than Melo (assuming Melo is at the 4), not allowing Melo to use his bully ball method effectively. This will lead to Melo settling for more jumpers. More than likely Melo isn’t going to want to play against Millsap on the defensive side of the ball too often because of how physical Millsap is. This will lead to some favorable matchups for the Hawks.
The backcourt’s best way to exploit the Knicks will be by being faster. They’re gonna need to tire out the bigger, stronger, and older Knicks lineup by running all over the place. The Hawks can do it but it’s going to take a lot of execution, especially on screens.
When it comes to the bench I’ll give the slight edge to the Knicks. They’re a little deeper. They have more veterans and players we already know can play at the NBA level. The Hawks are much younger. When you reach the playoffs however it’s a completely different situation. Teams go more so to 8 man rotations and in that aspect the two teams are almost even.
This is a matchup the Hawks can definitely win some games from and catch the Knicks napping on some nights. I’m not sure they’ll be able to win a playoff series, but they will give them a run for their money and a hard fought match up if they were to meet in the playoffs.
*predicted record based on Bo’s ESPN Forecast projections for every team