You just got your mail. You open the envelopes quickly. One envelopes contents includes a check worth a large sum of money. You look back at the envelope. It was addressed to the wrong house.
That is precisely how the season has gone for the Knicks. The NBA announced the cancelled season would be the shortened season; the Knicks announced they were going to sign Tyson Chandler. New York was on an instant high, back as a basketball city, back as a basketball team. …But the early losses have sent the fan base whining.
The Knicks are not new to slow starts though. Last season, New York finished the first 11 games with a 3-8 record, then rattled off the next 13 of 14 wins. In the shortened 1999 season, the Knicks started 1-2 as well, then ended up in the NBA Finals against the Spurs in June.
Historically, Mike D’Antoni’s teams have gotten off to slow starts as well. In the 2006-07 season, the Phoenix Suns started 1-5 before they won 15 in a row. That team finished with 61 wins. In 2005-06, the Suns started 2-3, then looked back at their record in 15 games.
It’s no time to panic.
Most are focused on the recovery of Baron Davis to save the Knicks’ season, but Iman Shumpert and Jared Jeffries‘ absence have been underplayed. Who took charges, played defense, and made key shots in the season opener? Shumpert and Jeffries. Who provided a spark off the bench and sacrificed their bodies for hustle plays? Shumpert and Jeffries. Both are above average defenders and rotation players. Maybe they are not the complete answer, but they are at least part of the solution in making this team better.
Even though Amar’e Stoudemire has been lost in the offense, along with Toney Douglas and Landry Fields, it still does not constitute the desire of Knicks fans to spoil what can be a good dinner. These first few games, thankfully, have just been the appetizer to the five course meal.
The Knicks identity has yet to be discovered. The issues with this team are a long list starting with defense and ending with rotations, and a lot of the expectations that the team had at the beginning of the season are quickly vanishing. While it may be premature, the mystique is surrounding this squad is declining with every loss as well.
But again, its easy to drive ourselves crazy. The majority of us – myself included – are making snap judgements on this season based on three games.
The one positive sign that this all might work out in the end is Carmelo Anthony‘s domination on the offensive end. Granted, he did not play well against the new defensive powerhouse in the Golden State Warriors, he scored/got to the basket/free throw line at will against the Celtics and Lakers. If this continues, only good things can come.
New York will make the postseason, that much is not to worry about. The question though is where they will be seeded in the playoffs. Sure, they are not playing to the level of some of the Western teams (or even anywhere close to it), but the Knicks’ schedule in the upcoming fourteen days looks forgiving. Raptors, Wizards, Pistons with the Bobcats sprinkled in a couple of times. After that stretch, we will have a better look at the team. I will reserve judgements until the end of January. By that time, we should have a real idea of where the Knicks are headed.