With the NBA season a little over a week away, I figured I'd throw my two cents in on how I see things playing out. These projections were created using Wins Produced (WP) from the Wages of Wins Journal and The NBA Geek. To gauge how rookies and incoming international players, I used the amazing projections of Arturo Galletti. If you haven't read any of that stuff, you should. I'll start with the surprising dominant (???) New York Knicks. Enjoy.
New York Knicks 57-25 (1st Atlantic)
TOP NINE PRODUCTION (numbers listed are WP)
|PG Raymond Felton||1.8|
|SG J.R. Smith||2.2|
|SF Carmelo Anthony||4|
|PF Amare Stoudemire||1.2|
|C Tyson Chandler||13.3|
|F/G Ronnie Brewer||6.1|
|F Steve Novak||3|
|G Jason Kidd||4.1|
|C Marcus Camby||7.5|
On paper, the Knicks had a very productive off-season. The additions of Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Ronnie Brewer add 19.5 2011-12 Wins Produced, which more than makes up for the 9.3 WP that left with Landry Fields and Jeremy Lin. Of course, Kidd and Camby are ancient, and the bottom could drop out on either at any moment. The returns from Camby are also limited by the presence of Tyson Chandler, who produced at an MVP-level last year. Brewer, meanwhile, will have his minutes limited by coach Mike Woodson's insistence on starting the uber-streaky J.R. Smith at the two.
From his last season in Charlotte in 2009 until he was traded to the Nuggets in the Carmelo Anthony-package, Raymond Felton was a well-above-average point guard. Ever since then, however, he has been terrible, bottoming out in Portland last year with career-lows in nearly every category. If he can at least regain his career-average performance levels during his second trip to the Big Apple, Felton and Kidd should make Linsanity seem like a crazy fad.
The biggest keys for the Knicks, of course, are how Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire produce. Anthony was a major disappointment for most of last season. He battled injuries, got Mike D'Antoni fired, and basically destroyed any goodwill that had existed following his arrival in New York. Following an injury to Stoudemire that forced Anthony to man the 4-spot, however, 'Melo played like a man possessed, averaging nearly 30 points and 8 boards over the last 12 games. The preseason injury to Stoudemire's knee should give Anthony a chance to match his dynamite performance as an undersized power forward, and the Knicks may be secretly hoping Amare's injury keeps him out longer. Stoudemire was well-below average when he did play last year, while Carmelo's late-season performance extrapolates to 10.4 WP over an 82-game season. If he comes anywhere near that production, 57 wins will look like a gross undersell.