The New York Knicks are returning most of the standout players that helped them earn the No. 2 seed in the East last season, but that won’t be enough to keep the team from taking a step back.
Will Improved Supporting Cast Be Enough?
Even with a returning cast that includes Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith, the rest of the Eastern Conference is so vastly improved that the Knicks could easily finish below the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets.
Sure it helps that the Knicks added standout forward Metta World Peace and forward-center Andrea Bargnani, but losing Jason Kidd to retirement will be a tough pill to swallow.
Additionally, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce taking their talents to the Brooklyn Nets over the offseason, it seems clear that the Knicks are going to have a tough time defending their first Atlantic Division title since the early-90s.
To make matters worse for the Knicks, they’ll be forced to deal with a healthy Derrick Rose in Chicago, and the Heat figure to be just as tough as last year with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade leading the way.
Aging Roster Built To Crash
For the Knicks to make the playoffs this year, they will need Tyson Chandler to play defense at the same level as year, when he won Defensive Player of the Year.
Chandler, now 31 years old, isn’t getting any younger, and his 7-foot-1-inch frame could ultimately lead to some wear and tear on his knees as the season goes on.
Can Metta World Peace Defy Father Time?
Metta World Peace could be a key factor on defense, as he’s still an intimidating force at the tender age of 33.
World Peace has looked sharp in preseason, but he’ll be 34 years old by the midway mark of the season.
With Chandler and World Peace no longer in their early-20s, it could be a real grind as the season wears on. There’s not much depth behind them as far as defense goes, so the Knicks could be in trouble heading into the second half of the year.
Slim Playoff Chance?
The Knicks have a slightly better supporting cast around Anthony and Chandler, but the end result will be a lot worse than last year. I expect New York to eek out a No. 7 or 8 seed and then get ousted in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Eric Holden, a lifelong New York resident, has been a New York Knicks fan since 1994. He attends 10-12 Knicks games per year at Madison Square Garden and his favorite Knick of all time is Charles Oakley. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.