Sports

Shaw ’13: Aging Knicks exceed expectations

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, November 9, 2012

This will be another NBA column, but first, Doug “Muscle Hamster” Martin earned his way into today’s sports page after rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns (along with four catches for 21 yards, you PPR nuts) against Oakland last Sunday. If this guy doesn’t decide to “Shaq it” and spends his offseason training instead of releasing rap albums and bad great movies about a genie that lives in a boombox, he’s going to be a legend.
Now on to business.
Last week, I didn’t give the New York Knicks much of a chance for the season. With a roster more likely to suit up for the Old Country Buffet than for a professional basketball team, the Knicks looked like they were trying to copy all the bad parts of Celtics teams of the recent past. (Relying on 39-year-old big men with bad knees is a great idea!) And while Ray Felton is still likely to spend more time at Fatburger than on the court, it looks like having an average age of over 31 will get you a 3-0 record to start the year. As with preseason games, you can’t really trust the sample size, but the Knicks are doing great things this far into the season. They’re leading the league in defensive rating and shooting lights-out. But like any sane basketball fan that lives outside of Manhattan, I don’t think it’s going to last.
Injuries will change the way any team looks, especially when your key defensive contributors are all over 30. Just look at this year’s Indiana Pacers, who, after almost overcoming the Heat in last spring’s playoffs, are contemplating a fire sale after Danny Granger went down with a bad knee. (I just couldn’t resist throwing a Hicks vs. Knicks comparison in here.) Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are the lone bright spots on this New York team, and while I always have a “Need for Sheed,” I also recall him stumbling up the court in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals against the Lakers like an overly abused Ford Pinto. Iman Shumpert is still out for at least another month, Amar’e is busy fighting inanimate objects, and do you really want to trust J.R. Smith with the ball?
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Boston Celtics. While I still have them pegged as a top playoff team, they have crawled out of the gates to a 2-2 start with those two wins coming from brutally close contests over an abysmal Wizards team. (At least we’re not 1-4! Kobe, tell me how my ass taste!) One of those losses also came at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, which I pegged last week as a team that would do surprisingly well. While there were plenty of doubters among readers, ball don’t lie and neither do ESPN power rankings, which bumped the Bucks up 14 spots to No. 4 in the nation. What didn’t feel as good was watching the Celtics get picked apart every which way and seeing no significant production from Jason Terry or Jeff Green. I expect the team to find their defensive intensity and offensive efficiency as the season continues and the team learns to integrate all of its new players, but if the Thunder ever offered a redo on that Perkins trade, I’d take it in a heartbeat.
As for the rest of the league, I think the Dallas Mavericks are the real feel-good story of the year. Without Dirk Nowitzki for the next few weeks, this team was on the bubble in terms of playoff aspirations. But it seems like someone steps up to hit it out of the park every game. Jae Crowder, their second round pick, is putting on a series of eff-you performances for every team that passed on him during the draft and is potentially the second coming of Kenneth Faried, who is the second coming of Ben Wallace (you could probably insert an Antonio Cromartie joke somewhere in here). Like the Knicks, the Mavs will have trouble getting Chris Kaman to continue shooting 70 percent or keeping Vince Carter from stabbing another city in the heart, but when a team makes a 27-year-old’s NBA dreams come true after serving six years in Iraq, you just can’t say anything bad. Stay classy, Dallas.

  • Jeanna

    Dear Tom
    I like your article. Rajon Rondo is my favorite Celtics player too! So is Paul Pierce. I have one question, though. What is a PPR nut? I think your article is really good because it is funny and you really know what is going on. I hope I will be able to see even more of your articles! ( Even if I don’t know what some of the words mean!)