The New York Knicks are off to an overwhelmingly positive start, and it would be hard to say anybody saw this coming.
New York has the oldest roster in NBA history combined with Amar’e Stoudemire, the $20 million per year power forward who is supposed to be the second-most offensively potent player on the team, out for an extended period of time. The team came into this season with an aged roster and skepticism looming over them from the outside.
There was vastly different mentality inside training camp, and with the best record (5-0) in basketball after two weeks and Carmelo Anthony looking like an early leading candidate for MVP, it’s clear the Knicks have collectively bought into coach Mike Woodson’s system.
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More than anything else, though, its been the addition of Jason Kidd that’s rejuvenated the Knicks. You see, While Kidd’s statistical contributions of 8.3 points per game, 3.5 assists per game and 3 rebounds per game are well below his career numbers of 13 points, 9 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game, the veteran point guard has posted a ridiculously effective PER rating of 28.32.
By comparison, his last best season using PER standards is 22.62 in 2002-03 as a season in Dallas. Playing fewer minutes – 20 mpg this season compared to a career average of 36 – is allowing Kidd to become as efficient as possible so that he isn’t overexerting himself, therefore becoming less effective.
Not many people understand the impact Jason Kidd makes on a team like his former coach in Dallas, Rick Carlisle. Earlier this week, Carlisle noted that Jason has made a noticeable difference for NY. “Kidd has got them very highly focused. I can see a difference with the resolve of their guys with the look in their eye and he has that effect on teams.”
“Focused” is the operative word in that quote. Before “Linsanity” and the Mike Woodson era, new Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was still the man coaching the Knicks.
Focused never seemed to fully describe those Knicks. Many players failed to buy into D’Antoni’s system, but they’re sold on Mike Woodson’s team-first mentality.