As the New York Knicks prepare to take the court with their AARP (Association of American Retired Players) roster, it's time to take a peek at the competition for the 2012 season. Do you remember a time when the Knicks and their fans actually needed to keep an eye on teams in the Western Conference - potential Finals foes? Perhaps it's why the team acquired so many senior citizens, those who might recall when the Knicks were relevant enough to dream about that. Any rational list has to begin with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers, but as usual, there are plenty of teams better in the West than most of the East.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder is following a time-worn script of success in all of sports - grow up together, mature together, lose bitterly together, sip champagne together. It's a strategy that has reaped dividends so many times. Like many great plans, nothing is fool proof, with no margin for error - more on that in the Downside section. But with a team replete with so many young stars, and youthful talent, there's no better way to approach success.
Some are decrying the Thunder's inactivity in the off-season, underscoring that even teams climbing the ladder need an infusion each year, even if the player(s) acquired merely dresses up the bench and contributes in small, but very significant ways. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, however, are only going to improve, and the same can be proclaimed for James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, and Serge Ibaka. The Thunder has the requisite intangible player in Nick Collison, who simply does all the dirty work others are reticent to do.
As great as they are, the Thunder was exposed by the Miami Heat in the Finals last year. They don't play enough playoff defense. They have difficulty in the playoff half-court game. Kendrick Perkins has proven to be a mistake addition in the middle. And, worst of all, the Thunder might actually peak at a time the Miami Heat and Lebron James are at their peak - and that's bad news.
Glenn Vallach has been a basketball fan, player, and coach during his lifetime and, as such, an ardent follower of the NBA even with all its warts. He have also been a New York Knick fan since the days of Howie Komives and Walt Bellamy, when he regularly boarded the IRT Subway at 180th Street in the Bronx for a trip to the Garden to see his heroes.
- · Yahoo! Sports New York Knicks page
- · Yahoo! Sports Oklahoma City Thunder page
- · Yahoo! Sports Miami Heat page
- · Yahoo! Sports Kevin Durant page
- · Yahoo! Sports Russell Westbrook page
- · USA Today Sports, 2012-2013 Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview