The expectations are always high in New York, especially for its passionate, demanding fan base.

And when you have a franchise that's been starving for a championship for decades, those expectations will perennially be something those players have to face each season.

Enter the New York Knicks.

After winning the Atlantic Division title two seasons ago in a year that saw them beat the then-world champion Miami Heat three out of four times and get out of the first round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2000, the Knicks fell from grace hard last season. Injuries, retirements, poor shooting and a general lack of talent caused the Knicks to narrowly miss the playoffs with a 37-45 losing record. Their brush with mediocrity could not have come at a worse time, as Carmelo Anthony had reportedly contemplated leaving New York in free agency for title contenders the Chicago Bulls before deciding that he wanted to stay in his hometown for the rest of his prime years.

Now, with the former league scoring champion and perennial All-Star firmly committed to the Knicks for the foreseeable future, it's up to the franchise and team president Phil Jackson to put together a solid team around Anthony capable of competing for, if not winning, an NBA championship. But one must first learn to crawl before walking, and it's no different in the rebuilding Knicks' case. They can improve and return to the playoffs this coming 2014-15 NBA season, but they must be sure to take care of several things first.

Latin Post takes a look at several keys that the Knicks need to win again next season:

Get Melo Help

As good as he is, Anthony can't do it all by himself. Even Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James couldn't do it by themselves. They had help. Unfortunately for Melo, there's no Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh on the Knicks roster that can serve as a true No.2 option on offense that Anthony and the team sorely need. That means that certain players on the team have to step up. Amar'e Stoudemire, often injured, must become the driving force on offense that he was in the first half of his first year with the Knicks in 2010 before injuries and adjustments on offense hampered him. New point guard Jose Calderon, who was a solid playmaker in his time with Toronto and Dallas, must succeed where Raymond Felton fell short in getting the Knicks offense to flow and get others involved. J.R. Smith must channel his erratic behavior and return to the form that made him the Sixth Man of the Year in the 2012-13 NBA season. And the bench must provide the support necessary for New York to survive in the late stretch of games. Melo is great on offense, and he can keep a team in the game but, to win, it will require a full team effort from the Knicks roster.

Set Tone Early

The Knicks kicked off the 2012-13 season in an emphatic way, blowing out the then-world champion Miami Heat 104-84 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2, 2012. They won their first six straight en route to an 11-4 November. The Knicks ended up putting the rest of the Atlantic Division in the rear view mirror as they coasted to an impressive 54-28 record that saw them raise the Atlantic Division title for the first time since the 1993-94 season. By contrast, last season, New York has an atrocious 2-11 November start, and they never recovered, limping to a 37-45 record that saw them narrowly miss the eight seed in the playoffs. While the Knicks' schedule for next season has yet to be revealed, and their projected starting five of Anthony, Calderon, Stoudemire, Samuel Dalembert and Cleanthony Early is less than impressive, New York's only option is to come out swinging from the get-go. If they play aggressive from the start, they may end up stunning a few teams in the early onset of the season. And that can set the tone for a confident Knicks squad that might have the potential to surprise some critics in a wide-open East.

Get Rebounding Help

Six of the top 10 rebounding teams in the NBA last season made the playoffs, and the world champion San Antonio Spurs were not that far behind at No.12 on the list. The Knicks, however, ranked near the bottom of the NBA list, grabbing a team 40.3 boards per night, the fourth-lowest total in the league. Granted, four-time NBA Finalists the Miami Heat were the worst rebounding team in the NBA, but they had James, Wade and Bosh to fall back on; the Knicks don't have that luxury. Legendary NBA coach Pat Riley said it best: No rebounds, no rings. That means that the Knicks' front line of Anthony, Stoudemire and Dalembert, none of whom are particularly proficient in grabbing rebounds, are going to have to make a more concentrated effort to crash the boards to get New York those second chances and possessions that are so critical. The whole team is going to have to get better at this as a whole. Without more rebounds, the Knicks are going to have a problem.

Shooting Must Improve

Statistically, there wasn't much of a difference between the Knicks' field goal and three-point shooting between the last two seasons. But in both categories, New York fell, and that cost them. Without Steve Novak and Jason Kidd, there's little in the way of great marksmen to help the Knicks this time around. But they'll have to find a way to take smarter shots and do better in terms of setting up shots off screens. Shots are like cherries; you have to pick the right ones, or you end up with fruit that doesn't measure up.

Pass the Ball More

For the last two seasons, the Knicks have been among the worst teams in the NBA in team assists. But they were able to make those passes count more two seasons ago because future Hall of Famer Kidd was calling the shots. Taking him out of the equation really hurt New York. Granted, replacing a Hall of Famer isn't easy, and the Knicks are certainly not in a position where they can do that. But they can make a more conscious effort to rotate the ball. Anthony does tend to hold a large portion of the possessions and shots, but in all fairness to him, who else do the Knicks have? And who has stepped up to show that they can deliver? Yet New York has to get away from the old mentality. Melo can't take every shot, it's impossible. Where they can get things going is by getting better at spotting the open man and giving them the ball. Everyone from Anthony on down has to get better at it. That might be the key they need to rebound from a terrible season and return to the playoffs once again.

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