History has proven that in many cases, success in the NBA comes with age. Yes, the younger guys are more athletic, stronger, and faster, but somehow, many of the championship teams in the league have consisted of older, experienced players, who use their savvy to get to the finish line, and not just their physical attributes.
You may or may not agree with that line of thinking, but it seems that the 2012-13 New York Knicks certainly do. As a matter of fact, they have stretched the ‘old is gold’ mantra to a ridiculous level.
After getting knocked out of the first round of the playoffs in a team that comprised of a good mix of the young (Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert), the prime age (Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire) and the not very useful old (Mike Bibby, Baron Davis) players, the Knicks have decided that the only way to go forward is to get much, much older.
Lin and Fields are gone, and the high-paid trio of Anthony, Chandler, and Stoudemire are in their late 20s to early 30s. And this off-season, the Knicks have decided to add Pablo Prigioni (35 – the NBA’s oldest rookie), Marcus Camby (38), Jason Kidd (39), Kurt Thomas (40), and most recently, Rasheed Wallace (39) to a squad that is starting to resemble a retirement home more than an NBA team.
Altogether, the new roster of the 2012/13 New York Knicks have officially become the oldest team in NBA history. Congrats, I guess.
From recent years, it is obvious that experience has been a major factor in the success stories of several NBA teams. With the exception of the phenomenally talented young Oklahoma City Thunder, most of the NBA’s best teams have comprised of players who have been seasoned in the league and have had several long playoff runs already. The Spurs, Celtics, Lakers, Mavericks, and even this year’s champions Miami Heat have had core stars with tonnes of NBA experience.
But the Knicks are going further than ‘old’, they are going for ‘ancient’. Yes, Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace have won championships before and taken part in many legendary playoff battles. Yes, Camby and Thomas were part of the Knicks squad that last reached the NBA finals 13 years ago. Yes, Prigioni has been a major part of the successful Argentine national team for most of the last decade.
But none of these players are spring chickens. Yes, the ‘Old Knicks’ do bring a great sense of accomplishment from the yesteryear. Kidd has been one of the best point guards of the past decade. Camby one of the best defenders and a former defensive player of the year. Prigioni once won a Spanish Cup MVP award. And Rasheed Wallace was a game-changer for many years with the Trailblazers and the Pistons. But this was all a long, long time ago. Some of the new old Knicks have made history, but at this point, they are history.
The Knicks themselves seem pretty confident about it. Tyson Chandler said that “In order to win in this league, you’ve got to have veterans.” Coach Mike Woodson insists that it’s “veteran teams that are winning titles.”
Older players are usually helpful in mentoring the youngsters and instilling a winning mentality. The older they get, the more limited their actual on-court production gets. Every once in a while, a veteran player will hit a big playoff three-pointer, or be useful on the defensive end, or be able to marshal the squad as a calming presence on the floor.
One wonders how much playing time the old brigade would earn this season with the Knicks, especially during the season. Barring any major injuries, the core rotation will probably be between the relatively younger crew of Raymond Felton, Ronnie Brewer, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Steve Novak. With Lin gone and Felton coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, Kidd will probably have to play major minutes as a back-up point guard.
Where the age will help New York is on the defensive end. Between Thomas, Camby, and Wallace, along with the younger Chandler, Shumpert, and Brewer, the Knicks now have a solid defensive core ready to challenge all comers. But how much can this team run on the other end? Not to mention the problems that they are sure to face in any offensive system that features an over-reliance on one player (Carmelo Anthony).
(But that’s another story).
Rest assured, the ‘Old York Knicks’ won’t have any shortage in NBA years and cramps this season. Eight years ago, some of the players in this roster would’ve been at the top of their game. But this is 2013, and this is a team build around Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler. The pack of oldies will have to find their footing and do it quick if they hope to lend their experience in making a difference for this squad.