The New York Knicks are off to a tremendous start of the 2012-2013 NBA season, and were the NBA’s only undefeated team until a loss Friday night on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies. The formula for success for the Knicks this season has been simple: defense.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has always been a coach to preach defense, and this season, the team seems to get it. The Knicks lead the NBA in points allowed, giving up 90 points per game. They are also receiving major contributions from a lot of players, and the numerous offseason moves made by the team are paying off.
Raymond Felton has erased most memories of Jeremy Lin with his leadership and tenacity. With Felton, who leads the team with 6.5 assists per game, starting alongside Jason Kidd, who leads the team with almost two steals per game, the Knicks have two point guards who are willing to make the pass to set up teammates. This seems to have rubbed off on the team.
Carmelo Anthony leads the team in scoring, averaging 23.6 points per game, but it is his rebounding, at 7.6 per game, that surprises me. Melo has averaged 6.3 rebounds per game for his career, not a bad number, but with Amar’e Stoudemire out and Anthony playing the power forward position, his rebounding will be critical to the team’s success, and, thus far, he is surpassing expectations.
JR Smith has also gotten off to a great start, averaging 16.3 points off the bench in a super sixth man role. Smith made it no secret that he wanted to start this season, but has thrived coming off the bench, giving the Knicks a solid secondary scorer, one they thought they lost when Stoudemire went down. Tyson Chandler is fulfilling his usual unsung role, leading the team with 7.9 rebounds per game, blocking shots, and taking charges in the paint. He was an undervalued addition last season and continues to pay dividends.
The season may be young for the New York Knicks, but they are for real. If they can figure out a way to add two talented pieces in Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert when they return in early 2013, then the Knicks will be a serious contender, even on that the defending NBA champion Miami Heat will have to take heed to.