And they said Woodson couldn’t design plays…
And they said Woodson couldn’t design plays…
– Amar’e Stoudemire has been cleared to practice. He hopes to play in the season opener.
– Kenyon Martin is still rehabbing the ankle injury he suffered last season and his status for the opener remains uncertain, as the Knicks would like to handle him carefully so that he can contribute long-term.
– Iman Shumpert is not practicing today, but doctors examined his arm and found nothing major. It is believed that he will be fine with a few days of rest.
– Raymond Felton pulled his hamstring, and is not practicing today. However, he says that he would play if it were a regular season game.
– Metta World Peace is back in practice.
– JR Smith is making progress in his rehab from his knee injury, but will still miss at least the first five games due to his suspension for recreational drug use.
Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler will start for the Knicks this season. Beyond that, the rotation is quite unclear, but Knicks fans were given a bit of info on the situation Wednesday.
Knicks Coach Mike Woodson said Wednesday that there is an open competition between J.R Smith and Iman Shumpert for the starting Shooting Guard position. Smith had a great year last year, taking home the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, but flamed out in the playoffs (during which he battled injury, suspension, and himself). Shumpert missed the first couple months of the season recovering from an ACL tear and struggled a bit once he got back, but finished the season strong and had a solid postseason after regaining his explosiveness. Both players are battling health issues: Smith had knee surgery during the offseason and is expected to at least miss most of the preseason, while Shumpert has said he felt a bit of knee soreness (which he says was to be expected) this summer following his comeback from the torn ACL.
Here’s what Coach Woodson had to say:
I’m going to let [Smith and Shumpert] fight it out… I want [Smith] to be past that Sixth Man. Let somebody else get the Sixth Man if he deserves to get that starting job. Last year was last year. Why not grant him that opportunity? That’s not to say he’s going to win it, but I’m not telling him he’s not going to start… [Starting] frees him up to maybe expand his game and be better for our ballclub. I don’t know, but we’ll see.
So who should start? Well, when both are healthy, Smith is clearly the better player (although Shumpert has great potential). However, putting Smith in the starting 5 instead of Shumpert could greatly hurt the defense Coach Woodson gets out of his first unit. Carmelo Anthony is a subpar defender due to a lack of effort, Raymond Felton is a defensive (albeit tenacious) defender at best, and Andrea Bargnani’s defense is atrocious unless his man is only a few feet away from the hoop (in which case it is actually very good, as stats have shown). And Tyson Chandler can’t do it all himself; taking Shumpert’s fantastic defense out of the starting lineup could be a huge mistake, even though Smith is decent on the defensive end.
Another issue with starting Smith is his nature as a scorer. Carmelo Anthony is the main scorer in the first unit (as you may have heard), and the Knicks rely on Smith to give them a solid scoring punch when the second unit takes the floor. Putting Smith in the starting lineup would hurt the offense of the second unit. But starting Smith would increase the offensive production from the first unit, negating the negative impact on the second unit, right? Wrong.
Again, Carmelo is the primary scorer whenever he is on the floor. So when Carmelo is on the floor, this means 2 things.
You probably just nodded while reading those 2 things. If you happen to be Amar’e Stoudemire, you may have even let out a sigh. When Melo is on the floor, Melo is going to shoot, something which he has earned the right to do by establishing himself as one of the game’s premier scorers. But if J.R and Melo spend more time on the court together, it means that J.R Smith will spend more time doing what Iman Shumpert did last season: standing on the floor without the ball. Iman Shumpert is a much better off-ball player than Smith due to his unselfishness, athleticism, and most important his fantastic defense. J.R needs the ball to have a big impact on the game. Iman Shumpert does not. Therefore, I believe that Iman Shumpert is better suited for the Melo-led first unit, J.R is better suited to lead the second unit, and Coach Woodson would be wise to keep these things in mind.
But who will start? Again, I say Shumpert. For one, Smith’s injury problems are larger than Shumpert’s right now. In addition, Smith will already miss the first 5 games of the season regardless of the state of his knees due to his suspension for violating the league’s recreational drug use policy. And most importantly, Shumpert started last year, and Coach Woodson is not a man who likes to change the way he does things. It is important to note that both players have indicated that they will be happy in either role, so hopefully team chemistry will not be affected by this competition.
Of course, there’s a chance that neither player starts if Coach Woodson goes back to those two-point-guard lineups. Pablo Prigioni, anyone?
Whenever a team is a contender, it’s a combination of a lot of pieces that makes the team great. There are the stars and the role players. There are the coach and the assistants. There are the benchwarmers and the “energy” guys.
This is the case with the New York Knicks, but some people don’t always get the credit that they deserve. People tend to heap a lot of the praise on Carmelo Anthony and his lethal scoring ability. There’s J.R. Smith’s wild personality and even wilder athleticism. Tyson Chandler is known as the defensive anchor on the team, securing the paint with his ability to guard the pick and roll. There’s even Iman Shumpert, the team’s budding star who has captured the imaginations of the fans with his obvious potential, causing all of us to look ahead to the future to see what it holds for that young man.
Then there’s the part that nobody seems to talk about. No, I’m not talking about Chris Copeland, he got a ton of attention during the playoffs when he finally got released from Mike Woodson’s doghouse. I’m actually not talking about Earl Barron either, who contributed…well he actually contributed nothing to the team. I’m talking about the point guard, Raymond Felton.
Felton gets overlooked a lot of the time because he isn’t a flashy point guard, and he rarely puts on Stephen Curry-esque shooting clinics. Game in and game out, Felton just gets the job done. I consider him to be the key piece in the team’s success because of his ability to get into the lane and open up the floor for shooters.
When he is on top of his game, he easily gets to the hole. Whether it be that floater that he pulls out of nowhere, his pull-up jumper, or layups, Felton has a knack for getting into the paint. He also is willing to go there. Sometimes, Melo decides to rely solely on his shooting, and that’s fine. Felton on the other hand, realizes that he has a much better chance of scoring if he lowers his shoulder and drives to the basket. That creates a ton of space for guys like Copeland, Smith, Anthony, and
Jason Kidd Iman Shumpert to shoot threes. That is obviously central to the success of the Knicks; when they get a lot of open looks, they usually knock them down.
The reason why I say that Felton is the key is that we all know what to expect from most other players on the team. Melo will get his points in various ways. Prigioni will create shots for everyone (except for himself of course).
Chandler’s offensive game is catalyzed by Felton. Obviously Chandler is known as a defensive player, and has the offensive skill of a drugged up Amar’e Stoudemire, but he can put it in the hole thanks to Felton’s ability to initiate the pick and roll and throw lobs near the rim for Chandler to catch and stuff.
Raymond Felton is the X-Factor on this team the way it is currently constructed. If he plays at a very high level (which he does occasionally), the Knicks have a real shot to truly contend in the East. Even if he’s not actually at the caliber of a star point guard, he does a lot for this team. It’s time for him to get a little bit more credit.
Also, he was better last year than that Lin guy.
Remember that Lin guy?
Yeah, neither do the Rockets. Beverleysanity.
As a side note, I just realized that Lin’s ineffectiveness caused the Rockets to use Beverley more often, and he injured Russell Westbrook. So basically, Jeremy Lin cost the Thunder their chance at winning the West. Send your mail to Landry Fields’s couch, Thunder fans.
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Alley-oop of the night!