We Should Be Both Excited And Terrified

The official announcement came two days ago – after a premature national television goof – that the Knicks-Nets season-opener would be postponed, due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy. The announcement only further prolonged anxious fans’ wait to see the Knicks officially kick off their season. In the meantime, there’s a lot to think about: injuries, rotations, lineup adjustments, etc. Since we now have to sit anxiously for the next for hours to see the Knicks take the court – a home-opener vs. the Heat – what better time to run through how excited/how terrified we should be for the Knicks?

We Should Be Excited!

  • Perhaps the only benefit from the postponement of Thursday night’s game is that the Knicks will get an extra day’s rest. For some bruised bros like Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby, and J.R. Smith, this could help those nagging knees and calves and feetsies heal up. Those men, with the likes of the typical rotation players we saw during preseason, will be the active roster for the next two months, at least.
  • Despite some questions about the roster and the fit, the Knicks currently possess 1) The reigning Defensive Player of the Year 2) Two All-Stars with elite scoring capabilities 3) The reigning leader in three-point percentage 4) A center ranked 12th all-time in blocks 5) A point guard ranked second all-time in assists and third all-time in three-pointers made 6) One of the most explosive bench scorers in the game, in JR Smith 7) A former Spanish league MVP point guard 8) Aaaaaaand two elite wing defenders. That’s quite a talented ensemble, if I may say so!
  • To bring the above point home – last year the Knicks employed Renaldo Balkman, Bill Walker, Jerome Jordan, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, and Dan Gadzuric. None of those players are still in the NBA. This year, all of the players on the Knicks are in the NBA! It’s a much more talented team!
  • The Knicks’ three-headed point guard rotation looks far more promising than expected. Raymond Felton is in good shape, zig-zagging through defenders with that saucy bounce of his. Pablo Prigioni has looked like a legitimate boost from the bench with his ability to snaggle steals and get players involved in the pick-and-roll. Jason Kidd is like that old guy you’ve played pick-up with who will throw a nice pass or two, hit a flat-footed jumpshot, and pick your pockets when you try and get too fancy. Those guys have some value.
  • Chris Copeland looks like he could be this year’s Steve Novak. He found his groove after a second-half explosion early in preseason and finished out the final four games averaging 17.5 ppg on 52% shooting. His floppy dreadlocks make him an easy target for point guards to find in pick-and-rolls and they accentuate contact around the basket. Furthermore, he fills the dreadlock void left since Renaldo Balkman departed.
  • Carmelo Anthony had a really great Olympics (which has proven to translate nicely into the proceeding NBA season) and has talked about how he wants to get his teammates more involved instead of scoring lots of points. Well, Amar’e Stoudemire is injured for the next 6-8 weeks, so, ‘Melo… you get to score a lot!

We Should Be Terrified!

  • Amar’e Stoudemire, the original domino (or building block if you don’t like the image of lots of things falling down), is out for 6-8 weeks. Some people will point to how this means Carmelo Anthony will play power forward and that the Amar’e-Melo pairing doesn’t work anyway. These things are true, but it’s still not a good thing. Stoudemire makes the team better, even if advanced stats show otherwise. Stoudemire, even as a mediocre rebounder for his position, grabs an additional 7-10 a game and is still a dominant finisher around the basket, declining athleticism be damned. Stoudemire, with those fancy new low post moves that he worked on all summer (I liked what I saw in his only preseason game), will now be out until mid- to late December and that’s not a good thing for the Knicks.
  • As Knicks fans love to point out sample sizes – Carmelo Anthony’s stretch as a power forward last year was only about half as long as Jeremy Lin’s Linsanity run. And just as teams adjusted to Lin, teams will adjust to Anthony as a power forward if the Knicks use him there for a prolonged stretch. That’s not to say that Anthony can’t recreate some of that same success, but it may not be so magical once teams figure out how to match up.
  • The Knicks’ medical staff is like a child who is afraid to tell his parents about something that broke under his watch. “It’s okay,” he says. “It’s not that bad. Some tape or glue will put it back together in no time.” This child, however, either accidentally falsely diagnoses the damage (in which case he shouldn’t be dealing with such diagnoses without further opinions), or he knows full well how broken the object is, but he tries to lighten his parents’ reactions by saying it’s not so bad.Dear Knicks’ medical staff: NOT EVERYTHING THAT HURTS IS “SORE”. Perhaps you should give us the real extent of an injury right off the bat, or get a second opinion to accurately diagnose the injury.
  • 40-year old Kurt Thomas and an undrafted 28-year old may be heavily relied upon to play big minutes at the power forward this season. Not ideal.
  • The Atlantic Division looks to be a really good division this year, teams one through five. The Knicks play their fellow divisioneers 16 times in a season.

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The season starts in just a few hours at Madison Square Garden! Finally, we all get to experience those heart-in-your-stomach, stomach-in-your-mouth, brain-in-your-jugular, terrifyingly exciting moments that only the Knicks can produce for the duration of 82 games.