The New York Knicks are still trying to find their way. Tonight they host the Milwaukee Bucks, hoping to creep one game closer to .500. It has been a dreary start for the Knicks. But is it time to panic? Absolutely not.
The Hard Part is Over
The hard part is over, almost. It took time, but the Knicks have successfully rounded out their roster with star talent. On paper, the Knicks have one of the best frontcourts in the league with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. With point guard Baron Davis close to returning, the Knicks have four highly-talented starters. Any Knicks fan would have signed for this lineup a year ago. The Knicks got their players. The hard part is over.
The Knicks had one of the worst defenses in the National Basketball Association (NBA) last season. This season, they are ranked tenth in defensive efficiency. That is a major improvement. Much of the credit goes to Chandler, their new center. Now the Knicks have a defense that can compete in the playoffs.
Landry Fields was the steal of the draft last season for the Knicks. This season, that honor may go to rookie guard Iman Shumpert. Shumpert has already proved his worth and then some. He has displayed talent, energy, athleticism and defensive intensity. He has been everything the Knicks hoped for when they drafted him. Shumpert is the real deal.
The Knicks now need time to gel. With all these new faces, they need to relearn the offense. The players need to understand the system, where to move, when to pass and how to play off one another. We have seen signs of progress so far. Anthony and Chandler have developed chemistry with the alley-oop. Chandler has solidified the defense. Stoudemire has had easy baskets, courtesy of Anthony and Shumpert. Shumpert has elevated his teammates with excellent all-around play. Rookie Josh Harrellson has developed into a three-point threat off the bench. Unfortunately there have been equally bad moments, particularly on offense. Scoring has stalled in the half-court. The offense has been plagued with forced shots, lack of ball movement, predictability and turnovers. The Knicks have the players. They just need time to figure it out. They need to learn how to play together.
Closer Than You Think
Their main problem right now is the point guard position. Shumpert has done well, but he is still learning. The Knicks are close. When Davis returns, you will see a different team. Davis is an elite point guard in the NBA. He can orchestrate an offense. He can find players in their spots. He can make players around him better. He can score. When Davis plays, the Knicks will be dangerous. They will be a playoff team. They will make these early losses seem insignificant.
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Edwin Torres was born in New York City. He has been a Knicks fan since the early 1980s. He has visited Madison Square Garden on many occasions to watch the Knicks and his favorite player, Patrick Ewing. For more articles, follow him on Twitter @FlipPoker.