Overrated to Underdogs: Analysis of New York Knicks Offseason Acquisitions

By Zachary Pokorny

It amazes me how drastically things can change within six months.  After putting up a 56 win season; becoming Atlantic Division Champion for the first time since 1994; and finishing second in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks, once thought to be overrated garbage, are now projected by many to finish outside the top four in the east for the 2013-2014 NBA season, even after they made many roster improvements.

Metta World Peace headlines the Knicks offseason acquisitions (Via New York Daily News)

Metta World Peace headlines the Knicks offseason acquisitions (Via New York Daily News)

Now let me remind you why the Knicks always receive so much criticism: it’s because they play in New York.  When you play in the city that never sleeps, there are critics looking to take shots at every moment.  These critics range from the opinionated Charles Barkley, all the way to every bandwagon Nets fan possible.

However, any basic student of the great game of basketball should be able to note the improvements the Knicks have made with each new acquisition. Currently, Tim Hardaway Jr. is a work in progress after being obtained through the draft, but retaining Pablo Prigioni, Kenyon Martin, and reigning Sixth Man of the Year JR Smith were all very solid moves. However, the moves made through free agency and trade will be crucial to any success the Knicks will have.  Let’s analyze these players:

First off, the Knicks got Beno Udrih at a very inexpensive price.  He is a high basketball IQ point guard who can be a proven asset in the near future.  He will be a much more durable option than Jason Kidd was last season, although he does not have Kidd’s marksmanship from behind the arc.  He may not be the guard they were looking for at first, but he is certainly no downgrade, having averaged four more points and three more assists than Kidd in the same playing time. I look forward to seeing what he has to offer this season.

Next, we have the controversial trade for Italian big man Andrea Bargnani.  While they gave up next to nothing player-wise, the picks given up were a big question mark in this deal.  However, the Knicks received a player who could fit perfectly into Coach Woodson’s system.  He will be able to help space the floor for Carmelo and has the ability to snipe down jumpers with ease.  Although his defense and rebounding abilities are mediocre at best, a fresh start is exactly what Bargnani needs to rejuvenate his career.  If he can produce anywhere near as well as the Knicks last Italian stallion, fans should be very content with this deal.

Finally, we come to my favorite acquisition: Ron “Metta World Peace” Artest.  MWP is a character, to say the least.  However, he brings this team something they’ve lacked since Tyson Chandler joined the team: grit and toughness.  He is a scrappy player who is as catalytic on the defensive end as he is dynamic in personality.  Signing MWP was the most important move this offseason purely because he changes the culture of the team.  His toughness is contagious, which is evident in his role on the Lakers 2010 championship team.  Although he is older, he will hopefully play a similar role for the 2012-2013 New York Knicks

These moves were not groundbreaking, however they will be pivotal in any future success this team has.  This team definitely has the potential to prove the nonbelievers like the “Round Mound of Rebound” to be as wrong as my math homework from last night. I believe the Knicks will be a 50 win team and will place third in the conference, ahead of Chicago and Brooklyn.  These new-look Knicks have a lot to prove, but they have the potential to shine bright.  I can’t wait to watch as the rest of the season progresses.

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