Round and round goes the Ferris wheel that's the 2012 New York Knicks. So much talent on this squad to start the season, yet they seem poised to squander that. Amar'e Stoudemire turned into a shadow of his former explosive self and he's pretty much become a one-sided (NOT DEFENSE) player. The Knicks devolved into the worst kind of ugly isolation basketball, the type where barely anything happens offensively and everything is given up defensively. Once Carmelo Anthony got hurt, it looked as if the season was over, and New York would be on the verge of blowing up once again.
And then out of nowhere, Jeremy Lin arrived. And suddenly everything started working again.
The Palo Alto star gave every player a purpose, a reason, a way to play off his creative abilities rather than try to create things themselves. As has been the case since forever, a good point guard can heal all problems. Lin's creativity allowed Iman Shumpert to thrive off the ball and start showcasing his defensive abilities, pick-and-rolled with Tyson Chandler, found Steve Novak and J.R. Smith for those big threes -- the New York offense just looked so much better, even if they weren't getting any contributions from the stars.
Of course, once Stoudemire and Anthony came back, things got all cloggy. The adjustment period was harsh -- the Knicks ran into the hardest stretch of their schedule, and their record plummeted. Still, after the rough patches, it seemed like the Knicks were starting to learn from each other -- at least until Stoudemire went out, and everyone had to readjust to each other once again.
Then it was Lin's turn to go down, and it was Anthony's turn to grow back into New York.
With Lin's success, Anthony really needed to regain the confidence of the MSG faithful, and it appears he finally captured the spirit of the Knicks by taking over and beating the Chicago Bulls single-handedly. Anthony has regained the confidence he seemed to lack. The Knicks have managed to stay afloat thanks to fantastic hero ball by Anthony. The Knicks are 7-4, and Anthony has hit 25 points in seven of them, 32 in five of them, and 40 in two of them.
However, the deficiencies of relying so heavily on Melo were on full display Sunday, when Miami was happy to let Carmelo put up the points, taking the ball out of the hands of the remaining Knicks players. Then the Heat put LeBron on him in the final few minutes and they couldn't score anymore. Hero ball works great until the other team you face is full of Superfriends or kryptonite (great defense).
Still, in the long run this might have been good for both of these players, and good for New York. Combined as a whole, the Knicks are a messy sort of collective that overwhelms everyone, even players like Lin and Anthony. Everyone wants the ball, everyone wants to make things happen, but they just struggle to make it happen. Perhaps now that they've each had their turn trying to carry the load, they can better understand how to work off each other to make New York go deep into June.
The New York Knicks are in the discussion as one of the deepest teams in the NBA, but they can't show it unless they're all together. The way they're currently constructed, they have plenty of talent, but just not enough defense to put around Chandler, not enough scorers to put around Melo, not enough creating without Lin out there running the show. Whenever a piece is missing, it shows in the lack of consistency of the team. Lin, Shumpert, Chandler, Anthony and Fields could really do damage in the playoffs (with Stoudemire floating off the bench to really fluster the opposition, along with Novak, J.R. Smith and Baron Davis); they're so offensively potent and versatile they can kill teams. There are so many ways for Lin, Anthony and their legions to attack even the best of defenses. They'd be one tough out if they could play even passable D.
The Knicks probably don't need Lin to win a series, maybe even two. But to achieve the lofty goal of winning a championship? They need this team whole again, and they need their confident point guard playing with their confident star. This type of partnership between Anthony and Lin can help fuel a championship run, particularly if Stoudemire learns to play as a secondary option and Chandler can continue to anchor the paint. It has to be a group effort, and it has to be with a complete squad.
Forget Linsanity. The Knicks could use Linormality right now.