The Knicks looked dead and buried 10 days ago.But now that Jeremy Lin has breathed life into the franchise, the title talk is back on.
The Knicks aren’t a contender right now. But they have as much talent as almost any team in the league, and if things break right, they could be in the mix come May.
This is the first, second, third, and fourth most important thing for the Knicks to figure out.
The conventional wisdom is that Carmelo's ball-stopping tendencies will stifle Lin's impact and derail the offence. But Carmelo played with ball-dominant point guards in Denver (Chauncey Billups and Andre Miller). So it's not like he has no idea to play off the ball.
Can Melo resist the urge to isolate himself on the wing and go 1-on-5 like we saw earlier in the season?
Oh yeah, Lin can't be a flash in the pan.
The good news for Knicks fans: the things that Lin does well (reading the D on the pick-and-roll and collapsing the defence) aren't fickle skills.
But then again, it's almost a guarantee that he won't average 25 and 8 for the rest of the year.
Depth is a huge issue for the Knicks. But if Lin keeps being Lin, then all New York needs is a semi-competent Baron Davis to have a respectable bench.
The team's second unit would be Davis-Shumpert-Jeffries-Novak. That's not the best bench in the world, but it's at least dynamic.
Amar'e could suddenly turn into a star again now that Lin is running the point.
Amar'e is a pick-and-roll forward and Lin is a pick-and-roll PG, so they seem like a perfect duo.
But if Stoudemire gets hurt like he did last year, the structure of the offence changes and the Knicks are way less potent.
Fields is excelling again now that he's able to do what he does best -- attack the basket from the wing against smaller shooting guards. Since Lin was inserted in the starting lineup, he's been the team's second-best offensive player.
But when Melo and Amar'e come back, Fields will be responsible for knocking down open corner threes when defenses are rotating. He struggled a bit with these earlier in the year. So who knows if it's possible.
The East really only has two proven teams -- the Heat and the Bulls.
The Sixers and Pacers are early-season surprises, but are built for the regular season rather than the playoffs.
The Hawks are just as flimsy as they've always been. The Magic are dangling by a thread because of the Dwight Howard situation. And the Celtics may or may not be absurdly old.
Even the Bulls have questions now that Derrick Rose is hurt.
The Knicks are reportedly targeting J.R. Smith -- the semi-crazy guard who has been marooned in China since the summer.
He'd give them bench scoring and three-point shooting, and potentially turn their bench from a liability to a strength.
Seriously, this is the big worry for Knicks fans.
It's obvious to say, 'If everything goes right, Team X can win it all.'
But given the Knicks talent, they don't have to be as lucky as you'd think. They have an elite offensive player (Melo), a centre that protects the rim (Chandler), a solid second-option (Stoudemire), and maybe even an above-average point guard in Lin.
They still need a lot to happen, but they're not dead yet.
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