The New York Knicks have recently picked up their play, and have been fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Through the recent play, I have not seen a team crawling to a playoff spot. I have seen a team with great potential and talent, fighting and hustling to defeat every team they face.
Although it is very frustrating that they could not have played in this manner throughout the year, it is a relief to see some good news coming out of New York:
1. Energy - Earlier in the season, the New York Knicks looked sluggish, and as if they did not want to be playing basketball. The Knicks had their heads down, playing one on one, and letting teams zip right past them for wins. However, since the start of March, the Knicks have been playing with more energy and actually winning! During March, the Knicks actually went on an eight game win streak! And, you never know, maybe this is somehow a sign for next years Knicks team (Nervous laugh). A major factor to the recent energy is the great play of JR Smith.
2. JR Smith - For about 85% of the season, JR Smith has played terrible. He dropped his points, assists, rebounds, field goal percentage, free throw percentage this season, and has come no where near to his expectations. However, since the month of March, JR Smith has really stepped up and tried to redeem himself. Since the start of March, Smith is averaging 16 PPG, 45% from the field, and 40% from the three point line. Even more impressive, Smith has made 44 three pointers over a stretch of only 9 games. Phil Jackson recently commented on his play saying JR would help make the Knicks dangerous in the playoffs. Now, whether or not they trade him over the off-season is a different story. But, Smith will help the Knicks in the chase for the playoffs, in the playoffs, and maybe in the future.
3. Phil Jackson - The happiest and most optimistic moment of the season came when Phil Jackson was named the President of the New York Knicks. We all know the Championship pedigree Jackson carries with him, and I am hoping he somehow finds a way to lead the Knicks to a Championship. His presence influences current stars to join the Knicks, and maybe, just maybe, Jackson will be able to work his magic, and have stars join the New York Knicks.
Overall, the good news for the Knicks at this point in 2014, is mainly their future, and the hope of making playoffs. However, the chances of making the playoffs is actually some of the bad news for Knicks fans.
1. Playoffs - The New York Knicks have recently stepped up their game, but the main question remains: Is it still possible for the Knicks to reach the 8 seed? It is possible for the Knicks to take over the 8 seed, but in order for them to reach the seed, the Atlanta Hawks would have to choke. With the loss to the Heat, the Knicks have put themselves even farther out of playoff contention. If the Hawks finish the year with a record of 2-4, the Knicks would have to go a perfect 4-0 to make the playoffs. With the Knicks facing Toronto twice (Very underrated Raptors team), Brooklyn (Played great since new year), and Chicago (Made a lot of noise near end of season), it would be nearly impossible to go 4-0. Overall, the Knicks chances of defeating all three of those playoff teams, or Toronto choking (Who is facing 3 teams out of the playoffs), is very slim.
2. Carmelo Anthony future - With Joakim Noah and the Bulls recruiting Carmelo Anthony, there is some competition to a team signing Melo. Anthony has reached the end of his Knicks contract, and must choose between Chicago, New York, and possibly other interested teams. Chicago does have a good current stance, as they have a great defensive team, and are looking for a great scorer. With Melo in his thirties, and him looking for a Championship ring, the Chicago Bulls might be the safest bet for Anthony. However, the Knicks do have Phil Jackson, who can bring in a surrounding cast for Carmelo. Anthony even commented on Jackson becoming the President saying, "It's a chess power move." I'm hoping Phil Jackson was enough to convince him to stay, and not leave New York.
3. Coaching questions - With the Knicks coming no where near their expectations, there have been questions arising about a coaching change. Mike Woodson is the current coach, and has had a tough year with the Knicks. He had some troubles with different players (*cough cough* JR Smith), and overall, the Knicks have a record way below .500. With the Knicks needing rebuilding, Phil Jackson might throw Jackson into the mix, and the Knicks would need help looking for a new coach. Overall, the coaching questions only add drama to New York this off-season.
At the end of the day, the Knicks have some serious potential struggles, but also have some good news to look forward to in the off-season (And maybe playoffs).