Ranking Potential NY Knicks Starting Lineups for 2013-14 Season
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With potential starters Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani joining the mix, proven starter Pablo Prigioni returning and Iman Shumpert ready to go from day one, the New York Knicks already have more starting lineup options on the table than they did at last year’s opener.
Amar’e Stoudemire will also be healthy this November, and limited minutes or not, might get an occasional start as the year drags on. Tyson Chandler will miss a handful of games, as he has in recent seasons, paving the way.
Kenyon Martin, who started 60 percent (11 of 18) of his games in 2012-13, is returning, having just signed a one-year veteran’s minimum ($1.4 million) contract. That’s more offseason good news for the Knicks and Mike Woodson.
If there is one thing Woodson has a penchant for—be it due to injuries or to wake up a slumbering team—it’s a flexible starting five.
The Knicks translated 25 different starting lineups into 54 wins last season, and the team’s most successful year in over a decade.
With the delicate nature, advanced age, and—a positive—the multi-positional talent of this roster (i.e. ballers who are adept at several positions), there will be a good 15 to 20 variations on the theme again in 2013-14.
Here’s a look at five of those variations we’re bound to see, from least often to most.
5. Carmelo Anthony at Small Forward
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SG—Iman Shumpert / Pablo Prigioni
With Metta World Peace’s arrival and Carmelo Anthony’s league-leading scoring performance at power forward in 2012-13, Melo’s starts at small forward will be rare sightings, indeed.
Then again, there’s Andrea Bargnani lurking about; he’s played more power forward than anything else in his career.
Just when you thought Anthony was going to be officially inked at the 4, “Woodson reiterated that he would consider starting Carmelo Anthony at small forward and Andrea Bargnani at power forward,” according to the Daily News’ Frank Isola.
And Anthony is on record as saying he doesn’t like the position. He told ESPN’s Ian Begley before last season, "I'd rather play my natural position then go down there and play the 4, the 5 and things that I don't really want to do.”
You have to believe 54 wins has changed his mind.
It might make roster-sense, as the Knicks are chock full of power forwards, but putting Anthony at small forward after last season doesn’t make much game-sense anymore.
Based on Woodson’s words, though, Bargnani will get the occasional start at the 4—making a strong starting lineup in itself.
Anthony was so good at power forward last season mostly because of opponent mismatches at the position, but also because no fellow starter had as consistent an offense. There was nowhere else for the ball to go after it left the backcourt.
Bargnani can change that, providing another shooting threat (from the mid-perimeter) to spread the defense for Anthony. On the other hand, double-teaming Carmelo opens things up for Andrea.
4. The Tyson Chandler out Lineup
SF—Metta World Peace
Tyson Chandler will lose about 10-15 games to injury in 2013-14, based on his career average of missing about 18 percent of his teams’ games (178 of 968). For a season, that’s about 15 games, but we’ve taken the low-end range of that number because Chandler missed big chunks of three seasons in there, skewing the average.
On these nights, Andrea Bargnani should usually get the start at center, which will give New York an offensive jolt over Chandler.
Defense is another story. Though Bargnani has slowly improved on that side of the ball, he’ll never be mentioned in the same sentence as “Defensive Player of the Year.”
The defensive support, then, has to come from both Metta World Peace and Iman Shumpert.
Mike Woodson will be better served with Iman Shumpert starting at shooting guard, forgoing the dual-point guard backcourt in favor of Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony pushing the offense.
Alternative starting lineups without Chandler are likely Amar’e Stoudemire’s only chance to start, which he can at either the 5 or 4. The latter will almost always occur when Anthony is hurt or off the floor for another reason.
The second lineup above is the “Kenyon Martin” lineup, which looks weaker, but was successful in 2012-13, so I included it here. Martin’s starts were more a matter of necessity than anything else. With Chandler out, and Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas hurt, there was no one else to play “center.”
Plus, Martin is a year older, so you have to assume he won’t be leveraged as much this year with the Knicks’ bigger and assumed-healthier lineup.
3. The Carmelo Anthony out Lineup
PF—Andrea Bargnani / Amar’e Stoudemire
SF—Metta World Peace
Carmelo Anthony missed 15 games in 2012-13 and has not played a full 82-game season since his rookie year (2003-04) nor 80 games since his third (2005-06).
Plus, he finished the postseason with a couple of bum shoulders. Working the 4 also puts him up against some of the bigger men in the NBA.
It’s going to happen: Anthony will be out up to 20 percent of the season possibly.
How do the New York Knicks win without him?
Well, they don’t, or at least didn’t.
The Knicks were 7-8 with Anthony sidelined, but now, thanks actually to some shrewd and frugal offseason moves (and a little luck with Metta World Peace) there’s a complete, experienced and even impressive team waiting in the wings.
Amar’e Stoudemire will be on limited minutes all season, but this might be the perfect spot for him to get a start and thrive with Anthony off the court.
Either way, Metta World Peace and Iman Shumpert will be on the floor.
Raymond Felton can run the pick-and-roll and some post up plays with Stoudemire, but Pablo Prigioni just doesn’t work as well here with this slow-moving and bulky lineup.
2. Iman Shumpert / Metta World Peace and Pablo Prigioni Get the Start
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SF—Iman Shumpert / Metta World Peace
Arguably, the best lineup the New York Knicks had in 2012-13 was with the dual-PG backcourt of Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton.
New York went 16-2 down the stretch via this combo, though the overall starting five altered in those 18 games: Kenyon Martin, Chris Copeland, Steve Novak, Solomon Jones, James White and Earl Barron all got the nod somewhere in there (the last three after the Knicks clinched the second seed).
Hopefully, we’ll see a lot of this lineup, but it is going to force either Iman Shumpert or Metta World Peace to the bench.
Who will Mike Woodson pick to start at the 3?
You will see both, depending on who the Knicks are playing and Woodson’s whim.
Until World Peace was acquired, Iman Shumpert was the mainstay at small forward. He’s younger, too. Surely, Shumpert will continue to get his starts here over the course of the long season.
World Peace makes a case though, especially if the Knicks need to step on the offensive gas. Jonathan Wagner of Yahoo! Sports explains:
World Peace gives the Knicks the type of two-way player that is severely lacking on a roster that otherwise consists almost exclusively of players who have strong offensive or defensive skill-sets, but not both. He can also step out and make the occasional 3-pointer.
1. Metta World Peace and Iman Shumpert Get the Start
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SF—Metta World Peace
J.R. Smith could start for more than a handful of teams out there, including the Knicks, but this would not be Mike Woodson’s best strategical maneuver. The Knicks still need Smith’s mobile shooting to lead the offensive attack off the team’s second line.
Smith’s offseason left knee surgery makes the decision a lot easier. He’ll be ready to suit up for the opener, but won’t be in game shape for some time (and certainly not starting shape).
This all finally puts Iman Shumpert at starting shooting guard, his natural position. Shumpert had a lock on starting small forward from the moment he rejoined the team last January, but that slot will now be filled by Metta World Peace.
The move keeps Carmelo Anthony at power forward, where he has played his best basketball in New York.
With Tyson Chandler, World Peace and Shumpert clocking time from the tip-off, the Knicks could be sporting a top-five NBA defense—they were seventh in 2012-13.