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We have a fairly good grasp on who four of the New York Knicks' five starters will be when the season opens. Raymond Felton will run the point, Iman Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony should flank him on the perimeter, and Tyson Chandler will protect the paint.
What remains to be seen is whether that vacant spot will go to a guard or forward. There are several candidates, each of whom has a legitimate case. The most intriguing option, one that would undoubtedly please Knicks fans, sees Pablo Prigioni slot in at shooting guard, with Shumpert playing the 3 and Anthony at the 4, where he was so successful last season.
By playing Prigioni next to Felton, the Knicks wouldn't be tampering with the continuity they achieved during their 54-win campaign, and head coach Mike Woodson can trust the Argentinian to run high pick-and-rolls in his spread attack.
The second option has Metta World Peace starting at the 3, with Shumpert at shooting guard and 'Melo holding steady at the 4. The pros to starting World Peace are obvious: He's a proven wing defender, and although he may be an offensive liability at times, the Knicks need to bolster their perimeter defense after allowing 106.3 points per 100 possessions last season, per Basketball-Reference.
A third option would be starting J.R. Smith at shooting guard. While that seems a bit odd given the hardware he took home last season, ESPN New York's Ian Begley reports that Woodson is considering making the switch:
He's in the mix, too, Woodson said Thursday of Smith, last season's Sixth Man Award winner. If things turn out well for him coming back, he could possibly slip in. At this point, I don't know. I'm going to use this month to evaluate and see where I am when we start the regular season.
Lastly, there's the least appealing lineup permutation, one that would slot Andrea Bargnani alongside Anthony at the other forward spot. That would mean the presence of another three-point shooter, but Bargnani has only ever appeared comfortable taking spot-up threes, which limits his effectiveness.
One must also consider Bargnani's defensive limitations, of which he has many. With slow feet and an aversion to rebounding (4.8 per game for his career), the Knicks would sacrifice a fair bit of their defensive integrity by starting the Italian seven-footer.