Throughout this 2013 – 2014 NBA regular season campaign, the New York Knicks have continuously switched lineups from small ball to BIG, prior to Andrea Bargnani going down with an elbow injury. Neither lineup has helped shaped a run that could have gotten the Knicks back in contention. As we look back on the first half of the NBA season, it seems as though if the Knicks continue to run these lineups, this season will transpire into nothing. Head Coach Mike Woodson must look for the lineup to take a different shape if he is to get off the hot seat and extend his coaching career in New York.
Here’s a look at a lineup Woodson should consider giving heavy minutes to.
Point Guard: Pablo Prigioni
With Carmelo Anthony as the bonafide superstar on this team, a true facilitator is needed to compete. Both Raymond Felton and Beno Udrih, are shooters, and honestly, neither are good shooters at that. Pablo Prigioni has proven his worth over the course of his one and a half seasons in New York, and thus far this season he has been averaging 3.6 ppg, 3.4 apg, and 2.3 rpg while shooting 43% from the field, and 41.8% from behind the arc. Prigioni’s statistics are inflated even more when looking at his productivity as a starter. In 18 games as the starting point guard, Prigioni has averaged 4.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.7 rpg, and 1.6 spg while only averaging 25.1 mpg. The numbers don’t blow anyone away, but even if his statistics are not worthy of being a perennial All-Star, Prigioni does the little things such as keeping the ball movement going. Inserting Prigioni into the role of primary ball handler could be a season changing move by Mike Woodson.
Shooting Guard: Tim Hardaway Jr.
After being drafted 24th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, Tim Hardaway Jr. has played better than the majority of the lottery picks such as Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Trey Burke, and Anthony Bennett. Due to inconsistent guard play from Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, Hardaway Jr. has gotten extended amounts of playing time and has proven he is not only going to be an integral part of the New York Knicks’ future, but he is a force this season if the Knicks are going to contend for a playoff spot.
Over the course of Hardaway Jr.’s rookie campaign, he has averaged 9.2 ppg, and 1.5 rpg while shooting 45% from the field, and 38% from behind the arc. Those statistics occur in just 20.7 mpg, but when looking at his PER 36, the statistics stand out. Hardaway Jr. is averaging 15.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, and 1.5 apg in his PER 36, and would prove to be a force either as the second or third scoring option on the team.
Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony
This one is practically self explanatory. Carmelo Anthony is the bonafide superstar on this New York Knicks team. He is the go to scoring option, and he is the leader on this team. Carmelo Anthony has been a star performer this season as he has averaged 27.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and 3.0 apg while shooting 44.8% from the field and 41.6% from behind the arc. He’s not only boosting his free agency stock, but he’s been the only bright spot on this New York Knicks team. Though it has been said that Carmelo Anthony plays best at the four, he was still a force when he was converted back to the three when Woodson utilized his big lineup for a period of time during the initial parts of the season.
Power Forward: Jeremy Tyler
One of the best success stories in sports is about to kickstart with yet again another Jeremy. Jeremy Tyler is one of the better forwards on this New York Knicks team. In limited minutes (10.4 mpg), Jeremy Tyler has managed to make an impact as he has posted averages of 4.7 ppg, and 3.4 rpg while shooting 55% from the field demonstrating his consistent mid range game, and deadly interior game. Jeremy Tyler has been a force in limited minutes, and the potential is clearly there. In his PER 36, Tyler is averaging a double-double in 16.4 ppg, and 11.7 rpg while also averaging 1.8 bpg, and those numbers are not a stretch by any means. If Woodson can enlist faith into Tyler, and give him the minutes he deserves, then he can make a huge impact for the front-court-lacking Knicks.
Center: Tyson Chandler
This season has been disappointing for Tyson Chandler. He went down with an injury early on and still looks as if he is searching for a rhythm at the midway point this season. Tyson Chandler has averaged 8.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, and 1.4 bpg, but it seems as though Chandler is turning it around as of late as he has been averaging 9.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 1.2 bpg while playing 30 mpg in Feburary. Chandler is the vocal leader, as well as defensive spearhead of this Knicks team, and he needs to get going if he can find success. De to either lack of a better option, or injuries to big men (Kenyon Martin, Andrea Bargnani), Chandler will continue to get the nod as the starting center for the New York Knicks.