Nov 10, 2013; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph (5) drives under New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich (45) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Spurs won 120-89. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Should the Knicks switch to a new lineup?


Nov 10, 2013; New York, NY, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph (5) drives under New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich (45) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Spurs won 120-89. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

This season has been one of highs and lows for the New York Knicks, the highs being harder to find than lows indicated by the Knicks lowly 3-6 record.

Mike Woodson has been playing with the idea of small ball, his “ultimate goal” of going big, and now with J.R. Smith being put into the starting role of shooting guard.

Well, I’ve got news for you Woodson; your best lineup is STARING right at you!

With Tyson Chandler out for 4-6 weeks, the Knicks are in a sticky situation, one that was sure to occur with their lack of bigs. They have been playing Andre Bargnani at the 5 and for the first game it worked. But it was achieved against the mediocre Bobcats in which Bargnani was paired up against Bismack Biyombo.

His real test came against the San Antonio Spurs that Sunday, a game in which the Knicks were blown out by 31 points, and a game where Bargnani was essentially a non-factor. His defense was just a gaping hole that practically every player that saw time on the court, took advantage of.

Yes, his offense is good and could potentially be described as above par, but there is nothing about his defense that tells me he should be starting.

In my mind he should have been relegated to a bench role to start the season while Metta World Peace took over the duties of manning the 3 and Carmelo Anthony switched to the 4, a position in which he excels at.

Woodson has one of the deepest benches in the league and should look to dissect the Knicks starting lineup where no one’s job is safe, yes, not even Anthony’s.

There are core components of an NBA starting lineup.

The Knicks possess each of these tools within players who all possess the ability to start.

Let’s kick off this rant with the most critical cog to an NBA team, the point guard slot.

The Knicks have three options to go with here in current starter, Raymond Felton;  pass first point guard Pablo Prigioni; and recent addition Beno Udrih.

My vote here goes to Prigioni.

While Prigioni’s stats were not standout last season, he does the little things that can make a massive difference on a playoff bound team. The Knicks’ Atlantic Division crown was only claimed due to a 13-game win streak in which Woodson slotted Prigioni into the two and suddenly chemistry clicked and once that happened. The Knicks ran rampant.

Now that the most important position is sorted, we move onto the shooting guard slot.

This position should belong to Iman Shumpert no matter what James Dolan says.

Shumpert does not have the talent to be elite, but would it be blasphemous to state that he could be a star in this league?

I don’t see any reason why not. Shumpert is one of the deadliest perimeter defenders, that was a statement he wanted to make on day one of his NBA career and the NBA heard that message loud and clear. In his rookie season he terrorized the likes of reigning MVP Derrick Rose, and superstar Dwayne Wade, on his way from going from a mid-first round pick to a rookie of the year contender.

By no means is he a one-dimensional player, though. Defense is a major factor. Shumpert came back from a torn ACL for the last half of last season, and shone as he hit 42 percent of three-point attempts on his way to becoming a dual threat player the Knicks needed. Even though his mid-range game is restricted, he has worked on it and evidently this year, he is shooting mid ranges, getting comfortable, and getting hot.

Now that the backcourt is sorted with Prigioni and Shumpert manning the one and two spots, we move onto the critical role of small forward, a position in which New York seems to have produced great talent in the faces of Dave DeBusschure and Bernard King.

The tradition should continue with superstar, Carmelo Anthony. There is no doubting Anthony’s ability. He is one of the deadliest players in the NBA and is considered top five by some analysts. He possess one of the strongest shots in the NBA and could be called the best pure shooter in recent memory, and even with lackadaisical defense, Carmelo more than makes up for it with his offensive contributions.

Here is where it gets hard.

The Knicks went all in fortifying their backcourt and did not pay as much attention to the somewhat crippled frontcourt and with Chandler now out  its showing. And trust me; it’s not a small hole.

While the Knicks always have the option to go back to the somewhat failed experiment that was the Anthony – Amar’e Stoudemire partnership, there is a chance that it could work with a distributor such as Prigioni.

But with the current state of the Knicks and the current health state of Stoudemire, it’s better to restrict him to a bench role.

I would look for Woodson to take a risk and let Kenyon Martin man the 4.

There are definitely questions relating to his health and Woodson has insisted on rotating Stoudemire and Martin on back to backs but Martin seems like the perfect candidate here. He is a big imposing force in the paint that can grab above average rebounds at the 4 even at the declining age of 35.

Martin could play in short bursts, but should start the game to allow for the Knicks to put the opposition under defensive pressure.

The first four positions were the easiest, but now with Chandler out for long term, the Knicks need a replacement at center and one that can grab above five rebounds a game.

Now this only calls for a short-term replacement so before you completely trash me about the statement consider what I write after the statement and then if you still agree, post as many hate comments as you desire.

Cole Aldrich should be the short-term starting center for the New York Knicks.

Aldrich is my choice over Bargnani for one reason and one reason only- he knows how to play defense.

He has the fire to compete; he has been a journeyman throughout his NBA career with no place to call home. Whether or not I can make the stretch to call New York his new home, is up in the air but I can certainly say that with the lack of frontcourt depth the Knicks possess, he is the best choice.

Aldrich is a big body that can do work on the boards and still contribute on the offensive end. Aldrich perfectly defines the popular line “go hard in the paint.” He is resilient, and needs to have a chance to prove himself and though he does not possess a mid-range shot, he can partner with Martin on the inside allowing for Anthony, and Shumpert to roam the perimeter and make defenses work.

The employment of Aldrich and Martin primarily in the paint would allow for more open looks and would allow for the Knicks guards and Anthony to do what they best- shoot the ball.

I’m not saying this is the recipe for success, but what I do say is that Woodson should give it a chance. He has changed up the lineup so much over the course of the season that even the most obscure players deserve the chance to contribute now that the “star studded” lineups have seemed to turn in the opposite direction for the Knicks.

Tags: Cole Aldrich Featured Iman Shumpert New York Knicks Pablo Prigioni Popular