Photo Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
In the preseason coach Mike Woodson chose to start a traditional lineup as opposed to the two point guard alignment the New York Knicks had success with last year. The smaller lineup included playing Carmelo Anthony at the power forward. However, in the preseason coach Mike Woodson chose to start new Knicks’ acquisition Andrea Bargnani at the power forward. The traditional lineup moved Anthony back to the small forward, which he played for the majority of his career. Raymond Felton occupied the point guard position, Iman Shumpert played shooting guard and Tyson Chandler was the center.
Woodson wanted to experiment with a traditional lineup so that the Knicks could match up with the bigger teams in the league. The experiment appears to be short lived. After Bargnani’s struggles in the preseason, Mike Woodson indicated he is most likely going to start Metta World Peace over Bargnani in the season opener today against the Bucks. Bargnani only shot 37% from the field in the preseason. Bargnani’s defense was also a concern. The 7 footer only pulled in 3.3 rebounds and had a plus/minus of -65.
Bargnani’s struggles could be a blessing in disguise. Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title last year(28.7 points per game), primarily playing the power forward. Anthony will move back to the power forward if World Peace starts. Allowing Anthony to play the power forward gives the Knicks a decided advantage on the offensive end. Melo creates a mismatch for most teams in the league at the power forward, because most power forwards cannot guard him. This forces double teams and leaves the Knicks’ three point shooters open. With Anthony playing at the 4 last season the team made 891 three pointers. The Knicks ability to space the floor by playing small was a key to their 54-28 record and Atlantic Division Title–the Knicks first since 1994– last season.
Bargnani could be a good fit off the bench. Both Anthony and Bargnani like to operate in the mid range. This could be part of the reason Bargnani is struggling to adjust to playing alongside Anthony. If Bargnani comes off the bench he can play the 4 when Anthony is not on the floor. The Knicks can surround Bargnani with shooters, as they do with Anthony, and hopefully have similar success. A change might be necessary for Bargnani to find a comfort level. More importantly, Bargnani needs to regain his shooting stroke.
If Anthony does start at the 4 it is the right decision. With Anthony at the 4 the Knicks may give up a size defensively, but lets face it, defense is not the strength of this team. The Knicks advantage over other teams is their ability to shoot threes and score. With Anthony at the power forward the Knicks have the best chance to execute their strengths.
The Week Ahead
After their home opener against the Bucks today at 7:30 (ET), the Knicks will play their first back-to-back of the season in Chicago on Thursday. The Knicks will be put to the test as they take on one of the best defenses in the league. It is also the Bulls home opener, and fans will be eager to see Derrick Rose play in his first home regular season game since returning from his ACL injury. The Knicks will then get two days off before facing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.