The New York Knicks created lofty expectations for themselves last season when they declared that their goal was to win a championship. The pressure mounted after a disappointing second-round playoff exit. Some Knicks are feeling it more than others heading into the 2013-14 season.
Here are a few players who will be dealing with a tremendous amount of pressure this season:
Why not start with the star of the team to have the most pressure? Realistically, on any team in the league the most pressure for the team to succeed is on the star player of the team. He had a spectacular 2012-13 season, leading the league in scoring with 28.7 points per game and carrying New York to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. When asked by reporters about the Knicks new acquisition Andrea Bargnani receiving some pressure to perform, Anthony then replied:
“There ain’t no pressure on him,’’ Anthony said. “You come in and do what you got to do and play ball. All the pressure’s on me. It should be easy for him. It should be an easy transition for him, adjusting. Just do it the right way, it should be easy for him.’’
Anthony probably does not have a strong enough supporting cast to make it out of the East, yet he will be held accountable if the team falls short of the NBA Finals.
Can J.R. back up all of his trash talk? Last season, he averaged career-highs in points (18.1) and rebounds (5.3), nailed two game-winning buzzer-beaters and was named Sixth Man of the Year. With him guaranteeing that the Knicks will win the championship is automatically adding pressure to himself. Smith is known as a player who performs at his highest level during the regular season and falters in the playoffs.
He showed Knicks management and fans what he is capable of last season. If Smith can indeed control his decision-making and stay out of trouble, he can help this team reach their expectations. This offseason, the NBA announced that Smith will be suspended five games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, once he returns from left knee surgery. With that being said, He will be held to that standard going forward, which may be more than he is mature enough to handle.