New York’s recent 100-97 win over the Brooklyn Nets gave the Knicks bragging rights for the week and evened the series in what's growing as the NBA's best rivalry at 1-1.While a few key players were no-shows for the Knicks and the Nets, the game was great but wasn't a true accurate reading for the two teams.
Brooklyn, minus star center Brook Lopez, and New York, minus star forward Amare Stoudemire and guard Iman Shumpert, still provided a pulsating performance in front of a raucous Barclay's Center crowd. But when both teams get over injuries later on the season, who will truly be the Kings of New York? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate.
Green: The return of Stoudemire and Shumpert should provide the Knicks with scoring, length and flexibility as both players can alternate between two positions. The three-pointer and defense are the Knicks' calling cards right now while forward Carmelo Anthony supplies the scoring. The depth on this team is insane and while Lopez is arguably one of the best centers in the game right now, New York just has too many bodies who can play good basketball. They're the best team in the Big Apple.
Riley: Depth matters during the season but come crunch time you can’t play more than five guys at once. And when it comes to just five guys on the court, there aren't too many teams that can rival the Nets. I think I would be able to manage with four of my top five players consisting of Lopez, point guard Deron Williams, swingman Joe Johnson and guard Gerald Wallace. And former Washington Wizards outcast Andray Blatche has been averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds over his last five games. Keep in mind the Nets are rotating so many players that were either hurt last season or not on the roster in their last campaign so they're a work in progress. Give them a few months and we'll see how the Knicks stack up to them then.
Green: The Nets are breaking in a lot of new players into their rotation which clearly gives New York the advantage since most of their team has returned from last season. And while Brooklyn's top five is one of the most highest paid rotations in the league, the Knicks' starting lineup of Anthony, swingman Ronnie Brewer, center Tyson Chandler and guards Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton is nothing to sneeze at either. Jason has been the most valuable player on the team behind the MVP-worth Carmelo. And when Stoudemire returns, I have a gut feeling that he won’t be playing power forward. Knicks coach Mike Woodson will probably use him at the center position, where he has thrived in the past. He could split starter minutes with Chandler, giving him the entire paint to work with while Melo stays red hot at the power forward position. With a lineup like that, the Knicks will be next to unstoppable.
Riley: The Nets starting unit includes some of the best guys at their positions while New York is highlighted by Anthony and a bunch of guys past their prime. I'll take a fully healthy Nets squad any day because no one can check Williams and Lopez one-on-one and you can't name a better swingman duo than Johnson/Wallace.
Green: Ask the Los Angeles Lakers what's more important between depth and a shiny-looking starting five! You can talk about the Nets starting five all you like but the Knicks are killing teams with depth and when they get Stoudemire and Shumpert back forget about who the best team in New York is. This Knicks squad reminds me of the Dallas Mavericks that beat the Miami Heat in the Finals 2 summers ago. Center Dirk Nowitzki was the only true superstar on the team, but he was surrounded with several savvy vets that only enhanced his effectiveness. If Dirk can steal a ring from Miami with a bunch of old vets, I’d bet my last dollar that Melo can too.
Riley: They'll still have to go through the best point guard/center combo and the best swingman duo in the league in "Broooooklyn." There's a reason why the fans at Barclays Center are chanting their team's name with pride. They know how talented this team is and if Blatche keeps up his stellar play you have a skilled 6-foot-11-inch forward to go along with rebound-hungry forwards Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans, swingman Marshon Brooks and guard C.J. Watson, pieces that add up to make Brooklyn the best basketball team in New York.