With training camp less than two weeks away, we will soon know the direction in which the 2013-14 New York Knicks are heading. With some of the offseason acquisitions and returning parts, it’s difficult to really know how the lineups and rotations will take shape. Mike Woodson has been gifted a deep, talented team, but is now tasked with figuring out how to get a large group of deserving players their due minutes.
The front-court, particularly the power forward slot, is especially crowded. Last season, Carmelo Anthony took the reins at the four and produced likely his best season in the NBA to this point. This less traditional, smaller lineup was used much of the season, and the effects were positive: 54 wins and the third most efficient offense in the NBA. Attempts to move away from this type of lineup saw limited effectiveness, particularly in the playoffs in which Woodson experimented with a Tyson Chandler-Kenyon Martin-Anthony lineup that produced horribly.
However, this season, the Knicks have re-tooled to a degree, and playing Anthony almost solely at the four may not be an option. The addition of Andrea Bargnani, as well as a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire (hopefully) means there will have to be some more traditional, bigger lineups. Tyson Chandler currently stands as the only true center on the team. Martin saw some time as a back-up five last season and will likely see more this year, meaning Stoudemire and Bargnani will likely play some power forward. Furthermore, Woodson may not want to play either Stoudemire or Bargnani at center since both are fairly inept defensively which practically ensures that both players will spend time at the four.
Likewise, the Knicks’ tendency to go small pushes traditional guards like J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to small forward. If Anthony isn’t manning the power forward, this could move a guy like Metta World Peace to the four. Anthony and World Peace could potentially switch on and off at the forward positions, but as mentioned, this won’t be too often as Woodson will also have to find time for his other big men.
Based on what we know right now, it seems Woodson doesn’t really know what his lineups or rotations will look like. He’s said that training camp will be the opportunity for guys to work hard and establish their positions. This notion suggests that Woodson is going to have look long and hard at what lineups produce the best. Preseason games will also afford him that opportunity to see how some of these lineup experiments work out against real competition.
The Knicks have been afforded a great opportunity by gathering some legitimate depth on the roster. Now it’s up to Mike Woodson to manage it.
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