One thing is for certain heading into the final 31 games of the regular season and that is the fact that the New York Knicks aren’t the same team that they were during the season’s first 25 contests, when they began the season 19-6.
As the Knicks got healthier with the returns of Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, somehow the team started to do worse, compiling only a 13-13 record over the course of the last 26 games.
As we head into the stretch run, there is one option for this team to turn things around, but it begins and ends with head coach Mike Woodson making some lineup changes. Of course that would involve Woodson to not be stubborn and realize that something needs to be done to shake things up.
Going small worked early, but it hasn’t as of late.
The numbers suggest that the Knicks are the third most efficient offensive team in the NBA, as they are averaging 108.3 points per 100 possessions, trailing only the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. Those same numbers suggest that the Knicks are the 15th most efficient team at the defensive end, allowing 103.4 points per 100 possessions, which is not good.
Slow starts have crippled the Knicks for months now and Woodson needs to do something about it.
There are a couple of options Woodson has, but most involve getting Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd out of the starting lineup.
The duo is absolutely killing the Knicks at the offensive end of the floor.
To say Shumpert has been struggling would be kind. He is averaging only 5.2 points per game in 20 minutes of action per night, but the problem is that Shumpert couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat right now. He is shooting a horrific 32.1 percent from the floor right now and that’s something Woodson can’t allow to continue. In addition, playing out of position at small forward has led to Shump not being very effective defensively, which is something that wasn’t expected. The Knicks perimeter defense is awful and Shump is continuously being beaten off the dribble right now.
Those same struggles landed Ronnie Brewer in Woodson’s dog house s Brewer was buried on the Knicks bench before eventually being dealt to Oklahoma City.
For as bad as Shumpert has been, and maybe coming off a knee injury has affected him, Kidd has been worse as of late.
He is looking slow defensively and while he shot the ball well in the early going, Kidd has completely lost his shooting touch. During the month of February, Kidd is only shooting 19 percent from the floor and a hideous 16 percent from behind the arc.
If Raymond Felton, who is only shooting 40 percent from the floor, isn’t making his shots, that puts all the pressure on Carmelo Anthony to carry the offense. When that happens, it is the all too familiar script of the ball not moving and stopping in ‘Melo’s hands, also not a recipe for winning basketball.
Woodson just can’t continue to run two guys who kill the offense and routinely get beat defensively out there that much.
A change is needed and the way I see it, Woodson has two options.
That involves moving Amar’e Stoudemire into the starting lineup and shifting Anthony back to the 3. Anthony is dominant at the 4, but he can still play at an MVP level by playing the 3. Stoudemire adds another scoring option to the starting lineup and while it is often said that Stoudemire, Anthony and Tyson Chandler can’t play together, now may be the time to test that theory out.
Stoudemire isn’t great defensively as we all know, but this isn’t a great defensive team and he can at least help Chandler out at the defensive end some, as Chandler is being asked to do way too much right now.
In this scenario, Kidd goes to the bench and Shump starts at the 2, where he is more comfortable. Hopefully that jump starts him.
In this scenario, Woodson doesn’t have many options, but he can’t stay with what he is doing now.
Either Kidd or Shumpert goes to the bench and either James White or Chris Copeland gets the start at the 3.
If defense is the goal than White gets the nod, which is something I am hearing that many people in the organization want to see happen.
If more offense is on the menu than Copeland is the guy. If that is the case, then Shumpert has to be the 2 in this lineup.
Either way, Woodson needs to do something.
The current configuration just isn’t working as the Knicks have proven to be nothing more than a mediocre team.
The good news is that there is still time to fix things, but Woodson can’t be stubborn and has to be willing to change.
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