Written by: Bobby Engelhard
The Knicks open their season tonight facing off with the Thunder on the road. We have talked a lot about the Knicks this offseason and I feel good about this year as I have stated. I truly believe we will see big steps from our young guys and should compete for a playoff spot in the east. If we suck I will be happy also because we will have a lottery pick in a loaded draft. So win-win for us this year and it should be fun to watch with no expectation of a championship this year. Maybe its sad I can be happy with development and not winning but the Knicks have been so bad for basically my entire life I have decided to enjoy the little things. Anyway, this article is about the Thunder. The Thunder added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony this offseason and many people have jumped on the bandwagon. I just do not see it for a few reasons. Do not get me wrong they will be better than most teams but they will be a far cry from what people expect.
I feel this way because I do not think Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are going to work with Russell Westbrook. To put it simply Kevin Durant left Russell Westbrook for a reason. That reason is he did not feel he could with him and his style of play. Kevin Durant plays the same type of game as Carmelo and Paul George he is just better at it and he saw it was not going to get the job done with Westbrook. People like to think these decisions are always personal but the first thing guys care about is money and the second is playing on a team they enjoy being on which generally involves winning. Westbrook is at his best dominating the flow of the game and playing the pace he wants to play which is fast. He is not a great spot up shooter and having the him off the ball is not ideal. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are not players that are going want to play at a break neck pace. They are isolation players who operate best in the half court. So now you have 2 guys who want to have the ball and at their pace and one guy who wants the ball at a fast pace. Something is going to have to give and I think problems with arise faster than them conceding to each other. I really think Russell Westbrook best chance of winning a championship would be with a team of role players and a 1 dominated big man. If I was the Thunder I would much rather a player like Demarcus Cousins and Westbrook with spot up shooters and role players than Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
This lead me to the second problem for the Thunder which is that they have very little outside shooting, rebounding or depth. Their bench is awful and they will miss Enes Kanter a lot. Besides the big three no one on that team is going to knock down a jump shot and that is a major problem in todays NBA. They basically have to start Andre Roberson to have some type of defense out there but he might be the worst shooter in the NBA. No one they have on the bench is capable of knocking down shots either so I do not know what they are going to do there. Steven Adams is a nice player but he is not a guy who truly controls the paint and glass and with Carmelo Anthony at the power forward spot they will get hurt on the glass every night. Outside of Adams the Thunder have to rely on Patrick Patterson and Nick Collison up front and that does not inspire me. As mentioned there is no shooting and minimal size on their bench so that will lead to issues all year.
The last problem is this is not going to be a strong defensive team. Carmelo Anthony at the 4 in the Western Conference is going to be a major liability. The Knicks with Anthony were one of the worst teams in the NBA when it came to defense and the Thunder’s overall personal on that side of the court does not make me think they can hide Carmelo Anthony which is what you need to do with him. You have to start Andre Roberson because of Carmelo Anthony on defense which hurts the team on offense. The bench does not pose to many defensive players either. I just see a lot of easy buckets for teams off missed jump shots and a ton of second chance points.
As for tonight the Knicks are a 12.5 underdog and since I am a betting man I would lean heavy on the Knicks here. No matter what the Thunder are this year I can assure you the first few weeks of the season will be a learning curve and they will not be blowing out anyone. The Heat with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh lost to the Knicks opening night a few years back as they learned to gel and that was a championship team.
So overall if you gamble take the Knicks and the Thunder’s win total under 51.5 and you can thank me later. LETSSSSSSS GOOOOOOOOOOO KNICKSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.