Stoudemire’s Knicks are Playoff Bound

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This new-look Knicks team, with Amare Stoudemire at the helm, has brought the basketball buzz back to Madison Square Garden. The only other question now is: when will Carmelo Anthony be joining the party?

[Black Star Sports]

The Garden hasn’t rocked like this in a long, long time. And the Knicks haven’t had a dominating presence, like Amar’e Stoudemire, since the days of Patrick Ewing.

These Knicks have brought pride back to New York. A return to the playoffs seems like money in the bank. Sure this team has lost three straight including the dramatic, suspense-filled 118-116 drop to the Boston Celtics. But, this team has talent and fortitude characterized by its new leader Amar’e Stoudemire.

Since Stoudemire signed with the Knicks he’s given them the one thing they’ve sorely lack for years: leadership. Without question, he’s the primary reason for the Knicks dramatic turnaround.

The greatest failure, of the Isiah Thomas years, was that Thomas put his trust in Stephon Marbury, a skilled player with zero leadership qualities. Consequently, when things got tough, Marbury wasn’t capable of rallying his team; like Stoudemire did, when the Knicks lost six straight games earlier this season.

Stoudemire has been a vocal leader and has led by example on the court, with his stellar play. He’s surely in the running for MVP honors this year, which will rest on how far the Knicks go into the playoffs. He currently ranks third in scoring at 26.5 PPG, behind the Oklahoma Thunder’s Kevin Durant and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. He averages 9.4 RPG. Stoudemire has, virtually, single-handedly resurrected a dead franchise into respectability again. However, it would be incorrect to say he’s the only reason this team is playing so well.

Another major addition to this year’s team was the acquisition of point guard Raymond Felton, from the Charlotte Bobcats. As a co-captain, with Stoudemire, Felton has been outstanding. Felton is averaging 18.4 PPG, 9.00 APG and 1.9 SPG. Felton has exhibited toughness, especially on defense, that has been non-existent, at The Garden, for years. He’s also come up with some big shots, like his multiple bounce game winning three-point shot against the Toronto Raptors, on Dec. 8.

Rookie Landry Fields, from Stanford, has also been a pleasant surprise. Selected 39, in the second round, Fields has been an absolute steal. He’s averaging 10.3 PPG and leads NBA guards in rebounds with 7.4 RPG. A brainy baller, Fields plays with poise rare for a rookie.

Wilson Chandler has also emerged as the type of player some of us knew he could be. Chandler’s game is now blossoming and he’s averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG. Chandler’s all-round game has improved, especially his jump-shot which has extended behind the three-point line, thus, allowing his driving game to be more effective.

Italian player, Danilo Gallinari started slowly but has showed positive signs in the last couple games. In the recent Celtic game, Gallinari exploded in the second-half, with 20 points, after a silent first-half. Against Miami, he had a solid game with 25 points.

However, the talented Gallinari, one of the NBA’s best three-point shooters, needs to elevate his play. Stoudemire will face multiple double-teams throughout this season, so, he’ll need sharp shooters like Gallinari to make those double-teams pay. Gallinari currently averages 15.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

Another sharp shooter who fell into the Knicks lap is forth-year player Shawne Willams. Williams who played with the Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks saw his NBA career jeopardized because of some marijuana issues. Coach Dantoni has admitted that he should’ve been playing Williams earlier, because of the way he’s performed in practices. It’s said he’s the best shooter in practice. And in a couple games he’s helped the Knicks win.

For example, against the Raptors, on December 5, Williams scored 14 points in the second half on 5-6 shooting, including 4-4 three-pointers. With only a quarter of the season done, Williams’ continued fine play, off the bench, will be important. Along with Gallinari, and Roger Mason obtained from the San Antonio Spurs, Williams gives the Knicks another viable three-point shooter.

One of the unanswered questions is who’ll get more minutes of the bench, as the grinding season unfolds? Second-year player, Toney Douglas will need to play better as the season progresses. After a promising rookie season, Douglas, so far, hasn’t played as well.

As good as the Knicks have played, they’ll need more muscle, in the paint, to protect Stoudemire and challenge teams like Boston and Orlando. Another major disappointment, from the Isiah Thomas days, is the enigmatic Eddy Curry. Curry is very talented, but his work ethic and desire is questionable. Curry is a capable offensive player but has never shown any grit on the defensive end.

Unless the Knicks trade for a big man enforcer type, that leaves only Ronny Turiaf and Timofey Mozgov to fill that void. Turiaf is a good defender and will be very important in the coming battles against the NBA’s bigger teams. Yet, at 6-10, he’s still a bit undersized when going up against tall teams like Boston, Orlando and Los Angeles. That’s where Russian Timofey Mozgov comes in. At 7-1, Mozgov maybe the only other player, on this squad, that can help Stoudemire guard the paint.

This new-look Knicks team, with Amare Stoudemire at the helm, has brought the basketball buzz back to Madison Square Garden. The only other question now is: when will Carmelo Anthony be joining the party?


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