Once a Question Mark, New York Knicks PG Baron Davis is Now Invaluable

Not long ago, the New York Knicks (18-18) were desperately placing their hopes on an injured Baron Davis. But as he recovered, point guard Jeremy Lin took the NBA by storm, resurrecting New York's season from an 8-15 start and keeping coach Mike D'Antoni off the unemployment line.

Davis finally made his Broadway debut on Feb. 20 against the New Jersey Nets, and this past Wednesday he contributed four points and eight assists over 14-plus minutes in a 120-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Should the 32-year-old remain healthy and play effectively, Lin—noticeably fatigued entering last weekend's NBA All-Star festivities—will be able to get some much needed rest during games.

Davis runs a potent second unit that has sparked chatter of New York having both the depth and talent to win an NBA championship this season. The veteran point guard himself has hardly been bashful about his lofty expectations, telling reporters this week that, before he arrived, "there was talk about a championship, but there was really no … no adversity to go through. And I think that we've been through a lot of adversity now."

That adversity, Davis warned, could continue before he and his teammates grow fully accustomed to playing with one another and begin winning consistently.

"We're gonna still have our bumps and bruises," he said, "but this team is continuing to bond together and support each other and love each other, and that's what it's gonna take to win a championship."

For those words to be supported by substance, D'Antoni's rotation will have to gel in time for the postseason. The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are prohibitive favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference, and any team lacking strong chemistry will not last long against either in a playoff series.

Winning the Atlantic Division will also be crucial for the Knicks, because doing so gives them home court advantage against a first-round opponent not named the Heat or Bulls, two teams they're better off avoiding until the conference semifinals.

"The Heat have an advantage, the Bulls have an advantage, the Orlando Magic have an advantage," Davis said. "But I am optimistic, and I believe in what we have here in New York City, and I believe in what we have here for the New York Knicks. … We're gonna get better.

"I think as deep as this team is," he added, "and with the energy of New York and the crowd—this crowd can take us all the way."

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Ray Monell is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Saturday, Mar 3, 2012