2010-11 NBA Preview: The 10 Most Effective Lineups for the New York Knicks

Allen KimSenior Analyst IOctober 25, 2010

2010-11 NBA Preview: The 10 Most Effective Lineups for the New York Knicks

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    Coach Mike D'Antoni has been juggling with the lineups quite a bit in the preseason, and it's still unknown how the starting five will look on opening night.

    Right now, the supposed lineup is set to be Raymond Felton, Toney Douglas, Danilo Gallinari, Amar'e Stoudemire and Timofey Mozgov.

    However, you can expect to see more tinkering with the starting unit as the season goes along, as D'Antoni went with an absurd amount of starting lineups last season.

    When Kelenna Azubuike returns healthy and ready to contribute, it should drastically effect the rotation. But until then, the Knicks will certainly see constant shifting and movement happening for at least the first quarter of the season.

    While everyone is sure to have their own take on the most effective lineups, here are 10 that Mike D'Antoni needs to take under consideration.

Starting Five

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    PG: Raymond Felton

    SG: Wilson Chandler

    SF: Danilo Gallinari

    PF: Amar'e Stoudemire

    C: Ronny Turiaf

    After free agency ended, this was the starting lineup projected early on. While sentiment has changed since the summer, this is what the starting five should look like on opening night.

    Felton is one of the co-captains of this team and he is their floor general. Raymond is a true playmaker, and his ability to create for others is head-and-shoulders above the rest of his teammates.

    Wilson's name has been linked to several positions, but mainly at shooting guard and power forward. If the Knicks start him at power forward, it will only end in disaster as they have a significant disadvantage on defense and in rebounding—this was evidenced by the manhandling Chandler took at the hands of Kevin Garnett during preseason action. Chandler is a more natural fit at the two-guard and he should work in tandem with Felton quite nicely.

    Gallinari is one of the Knicks' prized young possessions and he's a deadly shooter—an absolute must on any D'Antoni roster.

    Say what you will about Ronny Turiaf, but he brings two important things to the starting unit: toughness and defense. While Turiaf will be starting in this scenario, it doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be getting the full set of starter's minutes and finishing the game.

    When you set the tone early on with defense, it can radically alter the way the rest of the game is played. Turiaf can get the ball rolling and set an example as the other players follow suit.

    It's also safer to have Amar'e in at his natural position—power forward—as it will help him save energy and avoid fouls. While he could make for some tough matchup problems on offense for any opposing center, defense is another story. Amar'e is not an enforcer, nor a particularly strong rebounder, so a true center should fill the position.

Second Unit

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    PG: Toney Douglas

    SG: Bill Walker

    SF: Landry Fields

    PF: Anthony Randolph

    C: Timofey Mozgov

    As a second-unit, this is the perfect contingent of players to put together.

    Toney Douglas has been playing extremely well in preseason as he makes a case for the starting two-guard role, but he seems perfect to lead the second unit. He'll be a spark on the offensive end and—while they still need to be further developed—he has some play-making abilities.

    No matter how great you think Timofey Mozgov is now, or can be in the future, he's not ready for the starting role. He's a poor rebounder, mediocre defender and he tends to be foul prone—not something you want out of your starting center.

    At this point in his career, Mozgov is more of an offensive-minded player. This is where Randolph comes in as he can complement Timofey in the front-court and pick up his slack on the defensive end. Anthony has limitless potential and the Knicks need to play him and exploit his versatility on both ends of the court.

    Walker will be the back rotation's main shooter. If he can continue his strong shooting from behind the arc last season into this one, he'll get the go ahead to pull up from deep whenever he's open.

    Landry Fields has shown that he is capable of contributing in his rookie season. He has a high basketball IQ, NBA three-point range, solid court-vision, and all the tools to flourish at this level. He has unquestionably earned a spot in the rotation for the season.

Run-and-Gun

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    PG: Raymond Felton

    SG: Toney Douglas

    SF: Danilo Gallinari

    PF: Wilson Chandler

    C: Amar'e Stoudemire

    This is the most effective offensive unit for the Knicks.

    They have the perfect mix of playmakers, shooters and slashers, to get buckets when they need it the most. These pieces are tailor made for the "seven seconds or less" system.

    When D'Antoni feels like giving Amar'e the green light to absolutely demolish opposing defenses, this is the unit he will turn to. Felton can run the pick-and-roll with Stoudemire, while the other players wait on the wings, which should spread the floor enough to give Amar'e room to work his magic.

    If Amar'e is having trouble finding any rhythm on offense, Felton, Douglas and Chandler are all effective at slashing to the hoop.

    Since Danilo is their knock-down shooter from deep, he'll always play a crucial role in whatever offensive-minded lineup D'Antoni chooses to go with.

Defense

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    PG: Toney Douglas

    SG: Wilson Chandler

    SF: Anthony Randolph

    PF: Amar'e Stoudemire

    C: Ronny Turiaf

    This lineup will be one of the most important for the Knicks to turn to.

    While a cliché saying, defense wins championships. Period.

    Toney is a defensive-minded guard and he will head this group. Douglas is also the first line of defense as he will man up the opposing team's primary ball-handler. First and foremost, it was his defensive abilities that got him drafted into the league, and he'll play an extremely important role on the team for the upcoming season.

    Playing Randolph at the small forward position gives the Knicks a huge advantage. He can lock up perimeter players and come along the weak-side in help defense to close off driving lanes.

    Couple that with Chandler's defensive abilities, and you have a block party waiting to happen. Wilson can work in tandem with Douglas in the back-court to trap opposing guards, and switch off with Randolph along the perimeter.

    Turiaf is the only player on the roster that is capable of handling the bigger centers (e.g. Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Andrew Bogut, etc.) in the league. Amar'e can be effective—to a limited extent—but you want a player who isn't afraid to do the dirty work in the trenches and play a physical game.

    People tend to forget that Turiaf is also only two years removed from a two-plus block campaign, all in only 21 minutes a game. Per 48 minutes that came to 4.75 blocks, which was second in the league and far ahead of even Dwight Howard.

Shooting

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    PG: Toney Douglas

    SG: Roger Mason

    SF: Bill Walker

    PF: Danilo Gallinari

    C: Amar'e Stoudemire

    One of the philosophies behind a D'Antoni run offense is the ability to stretch the floor with shooters.

    Gallinari is clearly the first option to shoot the three, as he has quickly developed into one of the best from deep in the league. While he has been shaky during the preseason, he should come back to form for the regular season—or at least the Knicks and Knicks' fans hope he does.

    The biggest question in this lineup is Roger Mason. He had a down year with the Spurs last year, but it was only two seasons ago that he peaked at 42.1 percent from behind the arc and it's not inconceivable that he does the same this season.

    In 27 minutes a game last year, Walker drilled 1.9 threes a game at a 43.1 percent rate. He was incredibly efficient from long range and if that continues into the 2010-11 NBA season, he'll play a vital role coming off the pine.

    Amar'e has quietly shown flashes of added range on his jump-shot during the preseason, and if his three-ball ever becomes a reliable option, this team will be a nightmare to defend.

Free Throws

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    PG: Raymond Felton

    SG: Toney Douglas

    SF: Roger Mason

    PF: Danilo Gallinari

    C: Amar'e Stoudemire

    If it comes to late game situations or technical foul free throws, you want Roger Mason at the line. Like most of his numbers from last year, Mason had a down year. However, he's a career 87.1 percent free-throw shooter and he peaked at 89 percent during his career season with the Spurs.

    Of course, the flow of the game may dictate someone else get to the line, but Gallinari is probably the second option to shoot them.

    Douglas showed his clutch shooting at the line during a win over the Wizards in preseason, and hopefully he can do that when called upon during the games that matter.

    In his lone trip to the playoffs with the Bobcats, Felton was solid from the line and he's been reliable for the majority of his career. He has plenty of experience from the charity stripe and he should only get better as his career progresses.

    Amar'e has been in plenty of big games, and he has experience in those situations at the line. Every team needs an experienced player in the clutch to deliver, and Amar'e can do just that.

Speed

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    PG: Raymond Felton

    SG: Toney Douglas

    SF: Bill Walker

    PF: Wilson Chandler

    C: Anthony Randolph

    Just to clarify, speed and run-and-gun are two different types of lineups.

    When you put in a speedy lineup, the team is looking at more of a track meet, with players capable of going coast-to-coast at breakneck speed.

    This is perfect for those late-game situations where you're limited in time and you need to get points quickly.

    With Anthony Randolph at the center position—he has long strides and runs like a deer—he's great for running the fast break and scoring in transition.

Athletic

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    PG: Raymond Felton

    SG: Bill Walker

    SF: Wilson Chandler

    PF: Anthony Randolph

    C: Amar'e Stoudemire

    Felton may not be some sort of athletic freak, but he is extremely quick and he plays a vital role on a squad made up of these players.

    This is the high-flier squad.

    If you're looking to run circles around aging vets or throw lobs all day, these are the players you want to go with.

    Amar'e and Anthony are two of the most athletic players in the entire NBA. These two could catch lobs in their sleep.

    Walker is far more athletic than he's given credit for. He's capable of throwing down thunderous dunks and posterizing far bigger opponents.

    Wilson Chandler has the prototypical build for a wing player. He's versatile enough to play a number of positions, and he's owes that to his athleticism.

Height/Size

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    PG: Toney Douglas

    SG: Danilo Gallinari

    SF: Anthony Randolph

    PF: Amar'e Stoudemire

    C: Timofey Mozgov

    When you need to get some size across the board, this is the best lineup to run with.

    Mozgov is a legitimate seven-footer, while Amar'e, Anthony and Danilo all hover in that 6'10" to 6'11" range.

    Having four of the five in the lineup approaching seven feet is sure to cause matchup problems everywhere.

Blowouts

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    PG: Andy Rautins

    SG: Bill Walker

    SF: Landry Fields

    PF: Shawne Williams

    C: Timofey Mozgov

    Whether the Knicks are leading by a substantial margin, or they're the ones getting blown out, you always have a lineup made of scrubs or young players looking to get some run.

    The three rookies are the obvious inclusions in the lineup, but Walker is still young and in need of more experience.

    The same goes for Shawne Williams, who is making a return to the NBA after failed stints in Indiana and Dallas. Having earned the last roster spot on the Knicks over sure to be fan-favorite Patrick Ewing Jr., Williams will have to play and show enough potential to show he was the right pick.

    The Knicks will have the opportunity to get these players into NBA game situations where they can gain valuable experience. It's far different than playing in the summer league or preseason where games don't matter.

    This also helps the coaching staff and front office gauge a players' standing and future with the organization.