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Five Keys To Knicks Season 2011-2012


And we are back! Quite honestly, I didn't think we'd have NBA basketball this year. However, the sheer voice of my tag team partner in the morning urgently waking me up to the beautiful words of, "Heeeyyy, the NBA just announced they agreed to a deal, there is going to be a season", was a Christmas gift come early. Ahhh, like music to my ears. No offense to college basketball, which I do enjoy, and the National Hockey League, which still failed to grab my attention with no opportunity better than having an NBA lockout, but the NBA is my winter focus. When Roger Hornsby answered the question of what he does in the Winter when there is no baseball with the slight quip that he stares out the window and waits for Spring, I can understand and second that sentiment. Except, unlike Mr. Hornsby, I can't stare outside that long waiting for Spring, and the NBA gets me there much quicker, especially my oh so beloved New York Knicks.

And yes, this year we are placing the "oh so" in front of the "beloved" because when you love something, and that thing loves you back, it is a beautiful thing. It just gives you that warm feeling inside. This year, the Knick organization is giving the love back to those that waited ten years for it. This year, with a roster that boasts Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and the new addition of Tyson Chandler, the talk is no longer about making the playoffs, but there is whisper of that other word that almost seems strange to Knicks fans - Championship.

Championship? What?

Believe it.

Folks, that is our reality after ten-plus years of a dreadful nightmare. I'm so excited about this year, I won't even touch base on the large amount of fans that have jumped aboard the bandwagon. Hop aboard. You're still a fraud, or better yet, a fraudbag, and any of our success won't mean anything or as much to you as it does to the die hard - at all.  But hey, all of your teams win anyway, right?

Okay, I guess I just did address them. Oops. Nonetheless, in DP tradition, let's take a look at the five keys to the Knicks Season.

1. Chemistry - Last year, this was a concern with a new point guard, some drafted pieces, and getting acquainted to how Stoudemire would fit in this City. After a poor 3-8 start, that group played a bit over .500 ball during their time together until another team shakeup, and probably one of the biggest trades in franchise history. Following the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, the team floundered down the stretch as Carmelo and Stoudemire struggled to gel. This year, due to the lockout, there is  a limited training camp and a laughable ore-season schedule. Learning on the fly is once again on the agenda, and with other pieces being added, including two time All-Star, Baron Davis, clicking is the key to the season. Over the past four years, the Knicks have had several different rollovers (Poor Coach D'Antoni). Finally, there seems to be a core in place for the long haul, and the rumors of future acquisitions is now over. The window is open, and it is time to get through it. Yet, coming and playing together will be the most important issue.

2. De-Fense! - Ah yes, a religious chants in the halls of Madison Square Garden, yet, often practiced in the sanctuary. As much as D'Antoni claims to have preached defense, the numbers, reputation, and well, quite honestly, the product reflects a different result. However, the addition of Mike Woodson alongside D'Antoni can give the team a different look and a different voice that can hold players accountable on the defensive end. And oh yeah, having an athletic 7'1'' shot blocking athlete at Center doesn't hurt either. Ask the Dallas Mavericks how valuable Chandler was to their run. 

3. Depth - 66 games in 120 days. The schedule is insane. And if you remember the 98-99 lockout shortened season, there was a lot of bad basketball. Also, there was a trend of coaches planning through  their schedule like baseball managers, by giving stars a day off, and constantly rotating all twelve guys to keep everyone fresh. Expect the same this year. I see STAT taking nights off to preserve those knees and legs. Adding depth is going to be key for every team in the league, and D'Antoni a subscriber to the short rotation theory, will have to break his philosophy to be successful.

Speaking of the 98-99 lockout, I recall us making it to the NBA Finals that year. I'd definitely take a repeat on that bit of history.

4. Backcourt - The general concern seems to be the back court of the New York Knicks. While the frontcourt is by far the best in the sport, there is a lot left to be desired in the back court. However, what many fail to realize is that this team will be running through Carmelo Anthony, who is very underrated for his court vision and as a passer. D'Antoni has visions to use Melo in a vintage system similar to the old Celtics, where Larry Bird acted as a point forward facilator. I've been salivating at the thought since last February of a Melo and STAT high pick and roll offense. How do you defend that? And if the worries still persist for you about the back court, well Baron Davis should join the fold shortly, and Toney Douglas remains a bulldog on the defensive end. And please keep an eye on Iman Shumpert, that kid is going to be special. 

and finally...

5. Pressure - Can they handle it? The Knicks now have lofty expectations, and this town can get pretty demanding. Is it now Championship or bust? I still can't believe I just wrote that. But, as stated before, the window as been launched open for a few years. The pressure is on.

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