The Knicks had a great regular season in 2013, finishing with the second-best record in the East behind only the defending champion Miami Heat.
Carmelo Anthony leading the league in scoring was a big part of that, as was J.R. Smith putting together a season worthy of him bringing home the league’s Sixth Man of the Year honor.
But despite the competition stiffening this offseason, the Knicks star believes that his team will be even better next season.
“We were the top two seed last year,’’ Anthony said. “I think nobody expected that. This year we expect to do the same thing. I actually see this team be better than last year’s team. I won’t get into all the details [why]. But we feel that. We feel we have improved as a unit.”
The Knicks went 54-28, winning the Atlantic Division, but petered out in the second round, losing in six games to the Pacers. The Knicks drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. and added Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani and point guard Beno Udrih. Their losses were Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and Marcus Camby, all three of whom barely played in the playoffs. Still, some are predicting the Knicks to drop to fifth in the East.
Those who are expecting a drop off for the Knicks next year are doing so largely based on what’s going on with other teams, as opposed to focusing on whether New York improved, stayed the same, or got worse from a talent perspective.
Most expect the Heat to be near the top of the Conference once again, and the Pacers, coming off of a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, added depth to their bench which (along with that experience) have many favoring them to make a regular season leap this season.
Then there are the Bulls, who expect to have Derrick Rose ready for the first day of training camp. His addition alone would appear to make Chicago formidable all season long.
Finally, we have the Nets, who added Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to round out what will now be a stacked starting five along with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez.
The way the others in the East’s upper echelon bulked up, the Knicks are going to have their hands full. Anthony’s comments aren’t a surprise, but he may have a tougher time than he did a season ago in leading his team to as high as a two-seed for the second straight season.