What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Thursday, February 21, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 5. New York Knicks

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  21-10, first place Atlantic Division

This Month:
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):
  • Points Scored: 102.2 (6th)
  • Points Allowed: 97.2 (15th)
  • Team FG%: .449 (13th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .457 (21st)
  • Rebounds per game: 39.7(28th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.3(22nd)
  • Turnovers per game: 11.0 (1st)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.6 (5th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

Worst Player of the Month: J.R Smith

Sure J.R Smith is second on the team in scoring; however when he shoots under .400 from the field, those offensive numbers are negated due to his poor efficiency.  Although his scoring shot up dramatically from 14.8ppg in November to 18.1 in December, his field goal percentage took a severe nosedive from a respectable .438 from the field to a woeful .395.  Smith started December rather abysmally shooting .256 from the field and he did so while attempting 15 shot per game while coming off the bench.  Sure, there are cases of good player having cold spells, but upon closer investigation, it seems as if JR Smith forces too much resulting in his having poor offensive shooting numbers.  Smith's rather ugly game certainly does not help his team as those shots could have gone to other players and may have had a better chance of going in the basket making him more of a curse than a blessing for the Knicks.
First Player of the Month: Jason Kidd

Talk about comeback players of the year:  this guy looked as if his days were numbered after a rather abysmal season in his last season with Dallas Mavericks.  Many believed that the 39 year old veteran had little if nothing left in the tank and the Knicks signing him after such a dismal season was certainly met with a few raised eyebrows.  Kidd was not expected to plays major minutes, let alone start for the team; however, the wily old veteran who many though was washed has silenced all doubters as he showed flashes of the Jason Kidd of old instead of last season's "old Jason Kidd." Despite his rather advanced age by NBA standards, Kidd has in fact been  the catalyst of the impressive performance put forth by the Knicks as he was second on the team in assists per game along with averaging close to ten points per game in December and shooting a rather impressive .412 from beyond the arc.  Regardless of his age, Kidd has certainly silenced his doubters by showing that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve despite being on his way to turning 40 this season.   

The lights are shining bright in Manhattan as Madison Square Garden has returned to its rightful place as the center of the universe of all things that is basketball.  Sure they do not have a NBA title as the Miami Heat, but this is the first time in more than a decade that the sporting world have stood up to take notice of the New York Knicks.  Not since the Pat Riley era of the 1990s has the Knicks been such a dominant force in the league as the boast not only the second best record in the Eastern Conference, but also have a realistic chance to even topple the Miami Heat come playoff time.  There has not been so much excitement in Big Apple hoops since the Knicks went the distance in the 1994 NBA Finals to only be beaten by the Houston Rockets in the seventh and deciding game.  The sleeping giant has finally awaken and it has now become the time where it will take it's rightful place alongside the NBA's greatest Titans.

Although there was plenty of joy when the Knicks started 10-4 sharing the top spot in the Atlantic Division with their cross town rival Brooklyn Nets, yet there was still a small whisper of cynicism and rightfully so.  For years, the Knicks have been known as a team that started off well only to simply fall off and finish disappointingly--the last two years have been a testament to this fact.  The last couple of years have been prime examples of the Knicks failing to live up to the lofty expectations put on by themselves along with the media and fans.  When Amare Stoudemire signed a max contract two years ago followed by the mega trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple, the eyes of not only New Yorkers, but basketball fans worldwide simply lit up as it was seen as a new era in Knicks basketball.  Unfortunately, all those expectations went flat as both Amare and Anthony had problems gelling which deflated fan morale as the demons of the past started to rear their ugly heads.

Many forgave the 42-40 finish at the end of the 2011 season as many simply chalked it up to being part of a simple getting to know each other period and thus expected the following season to be year one of the Big Apple Basketball Rebirth. Unfortunately, that did not happen as the ensuing lockout would chew up a good chunk of the 2012 season as the new look Knicks entered the season slugging, disjointed and out of shape.  It reached to the point of becoming embarrassing as the Knicks'  investment of Anthony and Amare did not pay the dividends anticipated resulting in them spending much of that season under .500.  If it were not for the miraculous emergence of  Jeremy Lin, the Knicks probably would not have had the necessary momentum to finish strongly enough to grab the second to last playoff spot in the East.  That playoff series against the Miami Heat was a laugher throughout as the Heat simply manhandled the Knicks and could have swept them if it were not for the game four win and the ridiculous celebration that occurred following the game.

One would have thought the Knicks had won the NBA title with all the streamers and balloons that fell down in Madison Square Garden, but it was certainly not the case as the Knicks would head to Miami for game five to get extinguished at last.  After such a foolish reaction to that sole win, the Knicks became the object of ridicule and ire by most media outlets, sports reporters, bloggers and fans alike.  That only made it harder for Knicks fans and basketball fans in general to take the team seriously coming into this season as everyone was already used to Knicks being a disappointment.  When the Knicks started 10-4, it was met with a mix of cautious optimism and sarcastic cynicism as many expected MSG's finest to go ahead and disappoint once again as they have usually had.  That did not happen, however, as the Knicks went on a tear in December going 10-5 finishing off 2012 not only keeping their stranglehold on first place in the Atlantic Division, but also with the second best record in the Eastern Conference behind the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat.

For the first time in what can be seen as an eternity, the Knicks have now proven that they are actually "for real" and have now earned of the trust and respect from a rather highly cruel and unforgiving New York fanbase. All the horrid events of the past has been finally washed away as both the Knicks and their fans worldwide finally can ride the wave of happiness and bliss through not only this regular season, but for seasons to come.  Though there still is a healthy dose of skepticism as the press and media still reserve themselves to pass judgement yet and with good reason too.  The season is not over yet and there is still a lot of basketball left so New York still has to continue to prove themselves to a populace that now have their hopes set to the highest they have ever been.  So until the end of March, both sides must remain on guard to assure that their dreams can a reality and this exposure to the bright lights and sparks continue and not just turn into a temporary affair.