If they are going to win, it will largely be based on their defense.
Overall, defense was and should remain New York's foremost strength. Iman Shumpert-- New York's most promising, if not most efficient (yet) perimeter defender and turnover-forcer-- is out for a few months, but Ronnie Brewer should be an able replacement, and the prospect of the two of them together just tickles my innards. And while neither Carmelo Anthony nor Amar'e Stoudemire has ever demonstrated the will to defend consistently, we saw some of their best stretches on that end once Woodson took over as coach. Rebounding, too, ought to improve somewhat with Camby on board and (one hopes) better overall health in the frontcourt. The Knicks should once again be a top-five team in defensive efficiency. Now that I've said that, they'll probably come in last.
Then again, they'll need to get offense from somewhere besides Anthony and Amare.
In theory, J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and (after recovery) Iman Shumpert could help out more on offense. But Smith's usage rate was about as high as it'll get (22 percent) last season, and he's quite inefficient at that level. Novak was thankfully retained, but he's eternally a low-usage player and best suited as a designated shooter. (Despite Novak's incredible shooting in 2011-12, the Knicks finished No. 23 in three-point percentage.) Shumpert won't be back for the first month of the season, and is a relative low- to moderate-usage point guard regardless.
Still, they might just keep on being haunted by the departure of a certain popular point guard.
Bringing in Felton for four years and $18 million seems like a waste. Felton was out of shape last year and really hasn't demonstrated that he's a starting-quality point guard at any point outside of a brief two-month run quarterbacking Mike D'Antoni's offense. Mike Woodson is 180 degrees removed from D'Antoni's style, so I'm not sure why the Knicks think this is going to work out. If anything, Woodson coaches more like Nate McMillan, Felton's coach in Portland for a disastrous half a season. A four-year commitment to Felton also strikes me as risky given his inability to stay in shape last year. Of all people to give a long-term deal, why him?
The Knicks are likely going to be pretty good, but did they get better this offseason? Hard to tell.