Today we continue to look at season previews from teams around the league and make a stop in New York. We have a few bloggers with some interesting takes on what the Knicks will lock like next season:
From Mike Kurylo, Knickerblogger: New York has been a bad rebounding team for D’Antoni’s tenure, and this is one area Donnie Walsh failed to address in remaking the team. Stoudemire, Gallinari, and Turiaf aren’t good rebounders, and the loss of hyalophile David Lee will hurt the team as well. According to my stat page, the Knicks were 27th on both offensive and defensive rebounding last year. Knick fans who cringe at their team forgoing any second opportunities while allowing tip ins from the opposition will have a furled brow for much of the season. Perhaps Randolph and Mozgov can work their way into heavy minutes and help prevent the bleeding. Last year the Knicks were tied for 3rd worst defense in the NBA, and it has been a recurring issue with the team for the last decade. The Knicks have some good defensive pieces in Azubuike, Randolph, Douglas, and Turiaf. However most of the team (including the coaching staff) leans to the offensive side of the spectrum. If New York isn’t among the 10 worst defenses this year, it should be considered an accomplishment.
From Robert Hall, Bandwagon Knick: After two seasons of scorched earth roster decimation, Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni actually got down to the business of building a team. Sure, a certain prized free agent decided to go elsewhere as part of a SuperFriends package in South Beach, and no small amount of fretting took place among Knick fans as coveted plan B free agent Joe Johnson was signed to an absurd contract by the Atlanta Hawks. But Walsh promised backup plans covering every letter of the alphabet, and he delivered by: 1) signing Amar’e Stoudemire to a max contract, 2) pulling off a small coup by trading David Lee to the Golden State Warriors for Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf, and is-he-a-head-case-or-a-crazy-transformational-multi-positional-player Anthony Randolph 3) acquiring PG Ray Felton in a very thin market for guards for a reasonable two year, $15.8m deal, 4) signing young Russian center Timofey Mozgov to a 3 year $9.7m deal, again reasonable given the scarcity of bigs, and 5) drafting and signing second round picks Andy Rautins and Landry Fields, with the latter making enough waves in the Summer League to merit especially high praise from ESPN’s David Thorpe.
From Seth, Posting and Toasting: Depth! I bet I’ve said that each of the last three years, but I mean it this time, y’all. All of the signings have blessed Mike D’Antoni with the manpower to experiment with lineups, adjust to all kinds of match-ups, and weather any injuries. Moreover, D’Antoni has depth of the defensive variety, with a whole quiver of different weapons at his disposal. He’s got two ball-seeking missiles in the backcourt (Raymond Felton and Toney Douglas) , some steady broadswords to deter wings (Kelenna Azubuike, Wilson Chandler, and even Landry Fields), and the option to either bludgeon big men (Ronny Turiaf) or pierce them with venomous laser beams from space (Anthony Randolph). This team also appears well-equipped to run the pick-and-roll. Ray Felton isn’t Steve Nash, but he’s a capable lead guard, and he’ll have an elite roller to feed in Stoudemire. Randolph and Timofey Mozgov should see touches in the pick-and-roll as well.
Over at Land O’ Lakers, Brian Kamenetzky invited a collection of Lakers experts (Darius included) to discuss who they thought would present the biggest challenge for the Lakers. I’m sure most of us know Darius feels that the Rockets will present that challenge – and as usual, he and Kurt are on the same page:
Helin: If the Lakers are completely healthy, there is nobody in the West that beats them. Portland, Oklahoma City and, if completely healthy, San Antonio can push Los Angeles, but not beat them. One team that should scare Lakers fans a little is a healthy Houston Rockets. If Yao Ming is 100 percent come the playoffs, with a backcourt of the speedy Aaron Brooks and sharpshooter Kevin Martin, plus great role players like Shane Battier and Luis Scola … that’s a really good team. More than any team, they match up well with the Lakers. But you’d need a fully healthy Yao to make it happen.
Another one of the teams that guys were high on was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their youth, their talent across the board and that one guy leading them — what’s his name? Oh, Kevin Durant, will definitely be a formidable opponent. Henry Abbott argues that Durant’s performance during the Worlds set the stage for Durant’s 2010-2011 MVP campaign:
Back when this tournament started, I suggested it was a chance for Kevin Durant to kick of his NBA MVP campaign, and I got some pretty nasty comments. But let’s be honest: He just went out there and played head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world. He took what everyone assumed was an undermanned Team USA. He did and said everything right, played so beautifully it could make you cry, and brought great pride to his nation while leaving no doubt he was the MVP of the tournament.
It’s possible all that will matter not at all to MVP voters at the end of the year. And I can understand why some people insist it should have no effect for an NBA award.
Lastly, the official Lakers website has been counting down the top 10 moments of the Lakers season, and number for was Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, my second favorite game of the post season. 37 points, nine in the final two minutes and that tap on the butt that he gave Alvin Gentry after he knocked down that extremely tough long two pointer with Grant Hill all over him.