Mike Woodson came into training camp saying the only players guaranteed to start for the New York Knicks this season were Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler. And why not? There are no qualms about starting the Knicks’ quickest, best point guard; the team’s leader and best scorer; and the defensive anchor, the most legitimate center on the team.
The other two spots were open, however, and no one was quite sure who’d fill them. Would Woodson go back to the two-point-guard back-courts, perhaps with Pablo Prigioni starting alongside Felton? Would he play a traditional two-guard in the back-court? And what about the front-court? Would he play a traditional power forward or keep Anthony there?
Well, rather quickly, Andrea Bargnani seemed to get that starting slot at the four. It didn’t seem he necessarily won it, so much as Woodson wanted to keep ‘Melo at the three, play a more traditional power forward, and still provide floor-spacing (ideally) around Chandler and Anthony. However, after an unimpressive preseason, Woodson seems to be reconsidering his strategy. From Marc Berman:
“On Saturday, after Woodson revealed he wasn’t yet set with Bargnani as starter, Melo said repeatedly it’s not going to ‘happen overnight’ for Bargnani, who shot 30-percent from 3-point land. Anthony loves the way the former Artest has played this preseason and may feel they need his tenacity at the outset to start the season.”
Other reports from the day said that World Peace spent the majority of scrimmage time playing with the other starters, which could be preparation for Wednesday’s season-opener against the Milwaukee Bucks.
After seven games in which Bargnani shot mostly poorly and inconsistently from the field, defended lackadaisically, and failed to blend in, the adjustment might be needed. As Anthony suggested, it might happen eventually for Bargnani, but preseason wasn’t much indicator that the Anthony-Bargnani-Chandler front-court world work.
Conversely, World Peace looked fairly impressive in preseason. He brings an undeniable energy to the floor that seems contagious to his teammates on the defensive end. He has the size to play either forward position, which could help Anthony, and so far, he’s been the better shooter than Bargnani. For a team that looks like it’s been needing a shot in the foot to start games, World Peace might just be the perfect third man for the front-court. Not to mention, if Woodson starts Iman Shumpert in the back-court, he and World Peace could combine to make a pretty threatening defensive combo on the wings.
We shall see on Wednesday.
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