Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Are the Knicks among the elite now?
Steve Aschburner: Don’t be ridiculous. I’m prepared to be surprised and even wrong in my expectations for Carmelo Anthony’s impact in New York (I underestimated how well Amar’e Stoudemire would adapt and grow as a leader, for instance). But the Knicks gave up depth in their maneuvers to land him, playoff opponents will be able to thwart their two marvelous scorers when locked in a best-of-seven, Chauncey Billups – wise and solid – still isn’t a great fit playing at Mike D’Antoni’s preferred pace and the Knicks’ defense is a significant step (or two) down from what Boston and Miami plays.
Fran Blinebury: One game and truckload of Miami turnovers doesn’t turn everything around. The Knicks are better, no doubt. Just not ready to take down Boston or Miami in a best-of-seven set yet.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Please. They’re not in Bulls territory in the East, either. They’re probably not even in Magic territory, the way Orlando is one of the better defensive teams and the Knicks most definitely are not. I don’t think anything has changed from before the trade in that regard. That big win Sunday, by the way, was two days after giving up 115 points and losing to the Cavaliers and just before giving up 116 to the Magic on Tuesday.
Shaun Powell: To hear New Yorkers, you’d think Willis Reed just emerged from that tunnel again. Carmelo and Chauncey brought lots of buzz to the building. And yet the Knicks are no better than a No. 4 or 5 seed. That’s their ceiling, and until they demonstrate better defense over a longer stretch — yeah, I know Amar’e blocked that LeBron layup — you simply can’t trust their chances of going past Round 2 in the playoffs.
John Schuhmann: No. And obviously the difference is defense. The Knicks actually got a defensive win over the Heat on Sunday, but even with their roster upgrades, those won’t come often. And I think that game was more about the Miami offense being stagnant than the New York defense being great. The Knicks are going to win a lot of games with their talent and Mike D’Antoni’s offense, but unless they implement a better defensive system, they’re not going to be a title contender.
Sekou Smith: Not in the standings and not on paper. They probably don’t scare the Celtics at all. But the Heat should be wary of the Knicks come playoff time. The Knicks are a nightmare matchup for the Heat, whose depth and deficiencies at point guard and in the post would be highlighted if they had to square off against the Knicks in a series.