The 21st century hasn't been very kind to New York Knicks fans.

Derek Fisher will be the 10th head coach for the franchise since 2000, and the team has just one playoff series win in that time span. Last season, the Knicks finished 37-45, good enough for ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

This year, Phil Jackson has taken control, and expectations are running high in the Big Apple, but there's no way Carmelo Anthony or any one player on this squad can do it alone.

Here are four players who need to play at a high level next season for the Knicks to make the postseason:

J.R. Smith

Smith is an extremely streaky player. He lacks consistency, but he can light up Madison Square at any given time. Last season, Smith shot a career-worst 65 percent from the free throw line and went through a lot of scoring droughts. Still, Smith is a great shooter who did make a career-high 189 three-pointers last year.

Smith is still just 28 years old, so the Knicks may want to use him in their starting lineup and give him plenty of minutes. Smith has shown he can work very well with Carmelo Anthony, as well. His defensive game could improve and he needs to limit turnovers.

Carmelo Anthony

Obviously, Anthony is the best player on the Knicks, but he isn't perfect. Anthony received a new contract this off-season from the Knicks, and he knows it's time to deliver. Anthony isn't viewed as the best defensive player or the greatest passer, so he has improvements to make.

It will be very interesting to see how Fisher and Jackson use Anthony. Although an effective small forward, Jackson is well known for using his best scorers (Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan) as shooting guards. Anthony has only made it out of the first round two times in his entire career, which falls considerably short to others superstar players in today's NBA.

Amar'e Stoudemire

This is the "big hit or miss" player for the Knicks. Stoudemire has been a top-tier power forward since entering the league in 2002. His rebounding, low post game and his free throw shooting has made him a great player for years. His initial entrance to the Knicks was good, but injuries have halted further progression.

Stoudemire and Anthony haven't shown they can both play very well with one another on the court. It's going to be up to both of them (and coach Fisher) to find a way to be a successful duo. Many people believe Stoudemire will be best served coming off the bench as opposed to starting.

Jose Calderon

Calderon is easily one of the most underrated point guards in today's NBA. The Knicks acquired Calderon from the Dallas Mavericks in a trade. Calderon is (statistically speaking) the greatest Spain-born passer in NBA history and averages nearly seven assists per game over his nine-year career.

It won't be easy converting to a new system, but Calderon has shown he is up for the challenge before. Calderon has never played with an elite scoring champion like Anthony in his prime, so this will be blessing for him. Don't be surprised if this man is among next year's leaders in assists. If Calderon can play up to his potential, the Knicks could have a good chance at making the postseason.

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