Mike Woodson's Coaching Is Becoming Huge Problem for Struggling New York Knicks
Since the All-Star break, New York has gone 6-7, with Woodson's rotations and schemes coming under fire from the media and fans alike.
Earlier in the season, Woody was hailed as a Coach of the Year candidate. Following a poor year under Mike D'Antoni, his team came out of the gates running, emerging as arguably the best offensive team in the league.
Things haven't gone nearly as well since then, and all of a sudden Woodson's weaknesses have been exposed for all to see.
Stubbornness has been the main issue. Despite the obvious need for them, the Knicks have failed to make adjustments time and time again, and are losing games the same way.
The Knicks are switching on defense way too often, leading to huge mismatches that almost always end up in an opposition buckets.
Even when they don't switch, the perimeter defense still isn't up to scratch, because outside of Iman Shumpert nobody is doing their job. Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd haven't been able to stop opposing guards from penetrating, and J.R. Smith at times just looks completely disinterested.
Rotations have been a big issue as well. It took way too long for Woodson to move Iman Shumpert back to his natural shooting guard position, and give Kidd a chance to recover on the bench.
For defensive reasons, it also makes a lot of sense to move Melo back to small forward, especially with Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby capable of playing at the 4.
What the Knicks could really use is some help at point guard off the bench. Delonte West is out there in free agency, and releasing the injured Rasheed Wallace would open up a roster spot.
According to the NY Daily News, Woodson has said a new signing is possible, but has ruled out letting go of Wallace.
If that's the case, New York would instead have to let go of James White or Kurt Thomas. Neither player is particularly important, but the fact that they have both started recently raises questions about why Woodson would prefer to release them over a player that may not play again.
Woodson had a lot of success at the helm earlier in the year, but it could be that we are finally seeing who he really is.
This is the Mike Woodson that the Atlanta Hawks ultimately fired for not letting the team reach its potential, and the same thing could be happening now in New York.
We've seen plenty of flashes of what this team can be at its best, but it simply hasn't been at its best often enough in 2013.
Maybe D'Antoni's tenure was so bad that it allowed us to get carried away when the team started winning under Woodson.
After all, the two main things Woodson was praised for were accountability and ball movement. As much as New York improved in those categories, those are fundamental traits that any good team should expect to have, not things that make you an excellent coach.
Now, the Knicks don't even have those things to turn to. The ball isn't moving, and the team is playing like a bunch of individuals. It certainly doesn't look like a squad that has had five months to get adjusted to each other.
More to the point, Woodson is supposed to be a defensive coach, but his team has been nothing more than average—and at times awful—in that regard.
He was never considered particularly good offensively in Atlanta, so the fact that the Knicks were scoring so well in November may be more due to talent than coaching.
To be fair to Woodson, you can't ignore the impact that injuries have had on this team. The Knicks have been out of luck medically this year, and as a result Felton has dropped in form and we may never see Sheed in a Knick uniform again.
On top of that, the most recent news that Amar'e Stoudemire will be out until the playoffs was devastating for New York. Woodson now loses a consistent second scoring option to work with, making things a lot tougher on offense.
That said, the Knicks went 21-9 the last time STAT was out. With the way they played without him last time, it's hard to accept his latest injury as a genuine excuse.
The way Woodson has dealt with the injury has also been questionable. One would expect Chris Copeland—another offensive-minded forward—to be featured significantly in Stoudemire's absence, but that hasn't quite been the case.
With Melo now moving back to the 4, a spot has opened up in the starting lineup at small forward, but instead of Copeland, James White has been given the role.
Copeland has played in only four of these six games without Stoudemire, and when he has played has only seen time when it's too late to make an impact.
He does hurt the team defensively and on the boards, but so did Stoudemire, making it hard to understand why Copeland has had such a tough time finding minutes.
At the very least he spreads the floor, which is something a team that relies a lot on the three-ball should be looking for.
New York still has time to save its season over the last month or so, but Woodson will need to stop being so stubborn and make the necessary changes.
The team we see today stands in stark contrast to the dominant ball club we saw in November, and if it stays that way Woodson will have to take a lot of the blame.
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