By Jerald Levon Hoover
Updated: October 14, 2004

Jamal Crawford

NEW YORK, NY � This time last year the New York Knicks� training camp roster was probably good enough to make it to the NCAA�s round of sixteen. Well, maybe not that, but with the limping Antonio McDyess and the stormed questions surrounding the heart and guts of Keith Van Horn and the mind boggling moves of then GM Scott Layden the feelings of optimism certainly were not there.

This year however with new Knicks President and NBA Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas invoking his, �fix the engine on the fly� rule the roster on paper is drastically much better. And with the talent starved Eastern Conference anything can happen this year.

Case in point, when was the last time the Knicks were favorites to win the Atlantic Division? Enough said! So one can see why this current version of the New York Knicks is all giddy and happy with where they are.

One has to admit the talent this year (at present heading into training camp this summer) is much greater than it was last year in practically all positions including head coach and general manager. The Knicks go to camp this year with a roster full of former lottery picks and former all-stars. Newcomer and former Chicago Bull, Jamal Crawford has the entire Knicks franchise up in arms with his untapped potential. This is despite the fact that he lit up the Toronto Raptors for 51 points late last season; the sky is the limit for him. And with the health status of former all-star Allan Houston up in the air, Crawford who was destined for the sixth man role may get out of the gate quicker than expected.

The rapid development or power forward Michael Sweetney (thanks to Knicks assistant coaches, Mark Aguirre and George Gylmph. There is even a solid chance that Sweetney may unseat incumbent starter and veteran Kurt Thomas.

Another surprise from Knicks camp has been the play of second round draft pick, Trevor Ariza. Ariza is a 6-8 athletic swing player that has a nose for the hoop. He finishes the break with usually with an aerial assault such as power dunks or finger roles.

Some people have complained or even challenged the moves that Isiah Thomas has made over the course of his ten month tenure. But one this is for sure, he�s no Scott Layden that will stand pat allow his ship to sink into the depths of despair to which the fans cascaded boos with reckless abandon. Thomas is a fighter and a warrior and most of all a winner and he will do all that he can to insure those that wear Knicks uniforms gives nothing short of 100 percent each and every time out on the floor. Having talent to go with the will doesn�t hurt much either.