We're a quarter of the way through the NBA season, and believe it or not there are signs that the New York Knicks may finally be pulling the franchise’s legacy out of the shallows. Here are a few reasons.
Number one, Carmelo Anthony is checking his ego and using his basketball intelligence. It has become apparent that Melo has put his trust in his teammates and is willing to give them a chance with the ball in their hands. That's tough for a player like Melo, who is a perennial All-Star for scoring ability, to adjust to putting the ball in teammates' hands and expect them to score knowing sure well that he could do it on his own.
Throughout the course of a game, Melo has got to use his vast basketball intelligence to put the Knicks in a situation to get him those crunch time touches he wants. Overall, he seems to be moving in the right direction as a leader.
The second sign of a Knicks resurgence is Derrick Rose. Through 20 games, Rose has established himself as a leader both on the court and in the locker room. Rose has handled the New York media with a cool demeanor and sullen smile and you get a strong sense that he is committed to being a good teammate, giving it a full effort night-in and night-out. Rose has a bit of "New York" in his style of play, which Knicks fans are warming up to as well. Rose has made the transition from scorer, to playmaker -which some thought would backfire. But it has benefited Rose and the Knicks. Rose is still scoring, but in a much different way as he is taking 41 percent of his shots from within three feet of the bucket, and up to this point it's the highest rate of his career from that area.
Another positive sign is a guy who has gained the trust of his teammates rather quickly, Brandon Jennings. Like Rose, Jennings has a little New York attitude in him. Jennings has a street ball element to his game that New Yorkers are known for and love to watch. Jennings even has some evidence of his Big Apple flare when in 2007 during the Elite 24 Classic, he dished out 23 assists in stylish fashion at Rucker Park. Go ahead and watch that on YouTube.
Where Jennings' play has come up the biggest is when he heads the second unit. As some may remember, in 2008 Jennings skipped out on attending college and signed with a team overseas. It was an interesting choice, but he just now may now be reaping the fruits of his international labor. You can see that Jennings is gelling with the likes of Willy Hernangómez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who are beginning to learn the NBA game and have played professionally overseas.
The final sign of hope is by now obvious, Kristaps Porzingis. I can go on and on about all the promising attributes of Kristaps, so I’ll just bring up one of them. Porzingis pulled a new move out of his repertoire in the fourth quarter against the Thunder on Monday - the Euro step. Keep an eye out for that one, because 7-footers are going to have a nightmare guarding it.