Last year the Knicks had a 15-1 record when Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni started in the backcourt. The New York Knicks “small ball” lineup, with Carmelo Anthony at the Power Forward, was extremely successful. Despite this success, Mike Woodson has decided to return to a bigger lineup.
Mike Woodson indicated on Sunday that he would use the bigger lineup to start games, although he did not rule out going to the two point guard lineup later in games. ”"I know I can always go back to [a backcourt featuring point guards] Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton, but, at this point, I’m going to try a big guard if I can and see how it plays out,” Woodson said.
The reason for the move seems to be because the Knicks have a surplus of players at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Woodson feels that using the bigger lineup will allow him to spread minutes between Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Tim Hardaway Jr. at shooting guard. The same applies to Metta World Peace and Carmelo Anthony at small forward. The move will also allow the Knicks to match up better with teams who have big guards, such as the Pacers.
The decision to go away from the small lineup to start games does not come without risk.
The bigger lineup will likely mean a reduced role for third point guard Beno Udrih and less minutes for Pablo Prigioni. Prigioni was an underrated key to the Knicks success last season. In addition to the 15-1 record when Prigioni started, the Knicks assist rate increased 6.8 percent when Prigioni was on the floor. The New York Knicks also scored 5.2 more points per 100 possessions when Prigioni was in the game.
Conceivably, Prigioni could still get a large number of minutes at the backup point guard, but then Woodson would have to decide who to go with down the stretch. It could be Prigioni, Felton, or the both of them at the end of games. Either the way the stats show Prigioni needs to play.
Another player who benefited from the small lineup was Carmelo Anthony. Anthony, primarily playing the power forward, led the league in scoring at 28.7 points per game. However, Anthony does not seem to be bothered by the potential change. ”"Just put me out there, put us out there on the basketball court, whoever’s in the lineup we’ll adjust to each other, we’ll try to make it work and we’ll go from there,” Anthony said.
The potential starting lineup could be Felton, Shumpert, Anthony, Bargnani, and Chandler. This lineup has been playing together in scrimmages. Woodson has indicated that the Anthony and Bargnani tandem has looked good. Bargnani and Anthony could cause nightmares for opposing defenses. Bargnani and Anthony leave a lot to be desired on the defensive end, but Tyson Chandler can help alleviate some of their struggles.
We should get a better idea of what the Knicks rotation will look like after they play their preseason games. The Knicks take on the Celtics in their first preseason game on Wednesday at 7:30 P.M. (ET).