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.
Yeah, we know it’s early, but … the Knicks: Are you convinced? Really, what can go wrong?
Steve Aschburner: Sorry, it’s going to take a little longer — like till March — for me to buy the Knicks as a legit contender. Never have been a big ‘Melo fan, in terms of his interest in leading a team by whatever sacrifice necessary. The Miami victory was emotionally charged — good for New York for taking care of business — and the home-and-home vs. Philadelphia tells us more about where the 76ers are at (disappointing). Also, it cannot be a good thing that the Knicks’ media corps has a younger average age than the active roster.
Fran Blinebury: You’ve got to be impressed by the oldest team in the league. Carmelo Anthony has got it in high gear, Raymond Felton is doing a solid job running things and the Knicks even have a 38-year-old victory cigar in Rasheed Wallace to clean up at the end. So does it all keep running smoothly whenever Amar’e Stoudemire returns to the lineup?
Jeff Caplan: It’s the Knicks, anything can go wrong. But, I’m going the other way. I like this team’s start. Tyson Chandler is such a positive influence and he’s going to hold everyone accountable on the defensive end, just as he did in Dallas. Here’s the key: When Amar’e Stoudemire returns, coach Mike Woodson needs to make the tough but right call and bring him off the bench. He’ll thrive against second-unit players.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Definitely. I am convinced they can be a good team. But I still don’t see long playoff run. I don’t see reason to be convinced they are legit challengers in the East, if that is what we’re supposed to be convinced of. Just as there is no point reaching for the panic button for teams that had a slow start, there is no point in dousing a team in praise after one week.
John Schuhmann: It’s only three games and their offense is living on jump shots (only 32 percent of their shots — a ridiculously low number — have come from the paint), so there’s clear reason to be skeptical. But they certainly have the talent to be a top-four team in the East. What can go wrong is that they could get Amar’e Stoudemire back. He hurts them both offensively (in regard to spacing) and defensively (because he can’t stay in front of anybody). The Knicks are a better team without him, and when he comes back, Mike Woodson has a serious challenge on his hands in figuring out what to do with the highest paid player on his team. The obvious solution is to bring Stoudemire off the bench and limit his minutes with Carmelo Anthony, but that move would certainly bring some drama with it.
Sekou Smith: Not completely. But I’m certainly warming up to the idea of the Knicks being not only city champs (sorry Brooklyn), but also a legitimate candidate for a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. That’s not to say they don’t have plenty of issues to deal with (what to do with Amar’e Stoudemire when he gets healthy being at the top of the list). Every wanna-be contender does, though. Mike Woodson‘s stubborn streak should work in this team’s favor. He has a penchant for believing his team is capable of things that the pundits never do, and it served him well during his time running the Hawks and even last season when he took over for Mike D’Antoni in New York. It might not matter if the rest of us are convinced. If Woodson’s players believe they are ready to contend, that’s likely the only group that matters.