One man's honest opinion about sports in the Motor City, and beyond.

Monday, July 10, 2006

On a limb...

Watch out for the Knicks this year... No, they won't be winning the title, but they will be contending for a playoff spot. Look, with the departure of Brown I believe a huge load of pressure and stress will be lifted off the player's shoulders. The pressure will now be on Zeek. While he may not be the best coach in the league, or anywhere near, he is not a horrible coach. His record in Indiana was not terrible, and they made the playoffs in each of his three years there (2000-2003). Also, he seems likeable to his players - which is always good when taking over a team coming off a complete disaster season. Not to mention, regardless of his post-playing-days, he is a champion - and NBA Finals MVP - and a 12 time all-star. (not to shabby)

I have reached this opinion after reading an article in the New York Times, which you can find here. The key to this year's success will be for Thomas to create a situation where Marbury and Francis can co-exist. I believe at this point in their careers it is a plausible undertaking. Both have been passed around the league a bit. Never finding there role. Together they could find it. The talent is there for an interesting backcourt. Imagine getting 40 points and 10 assists between them each game. Which, if they are willing to share... would be a very realistic goal.

Isaiah -Sit Starbury down and show him clip after clip of Chauncey Billups (in a Pistons uniform)... Who is basically the mirror physical imagine of Stephon... and, I believe a disciplined version could be a very comparable point guard to Billups. The way Marbury sounds in the NY Times article I reference above... he may be ready to take the same career leap Chauncey did with Detroit. Still capable of scoring 25 points a game... But, instead... playing good basketball, involving his teammates, and winning games. He sounds ready to make it happen. He is excited about having Thomas on the sideline... If the supporting cast of the Knicks have half his enthusiasm... This could be a very interesting team to watch.

The Knicks have other talent on this squad as well. Jalen Rose, Eddy Curry, and Channing Fry are all respectable NBA players. If you could work a starting lineup featuring all five... and somehow get them to mesh together... they should be playoff bound.

If I were Zeek... I wouldn't even worry about defense... Just let them run and put up 100 points a game... Will they win a championship that way? No. Will they win a championship any way? No. So why not win some regular season games, and play entertaining basketball while you are doing it?

With Curry and Fry... they have a 13ft 9inch 533 pound frontcourt... Fry averaged 12+ points and nearly 6 rebounds on limited play (24 min. per game) as a rookie. Curry has had a streaky past... but with the other four players around him he will have a more comfortable role as a support player. A very pricey support player... But still very good as a 3rd or 4th option on offense. He will be allowed to average somewhere around 15 points... But when playing against undersized teams, which there are plenty of, he can easily go off for 25+.

Getting this roster to come together as a cohesive winning machine will not be easy - but not impossible either. Thomas may have not made the wisest of choices as GM. Thomas may not be the greatest of coaches. But, there is talent on this team, and that is why I believe they will be the surprise out of the East. Look for them to finish somewhere in the bottom half, but the playoffs is not a lofty goal - not in the least.

Note: One glaring problem I see in the predicted starting 5 is Steve Francis' small stature. If playing the 2 sport, he may have trouble guarding some of the other shooting guards - where he will be giving up some inches. Also, I haven't seen many comments by Francis - which may be a sign he, if anyone, will need some type of attitude adjustment going into the season. Both should be addressable issues.



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