There has been a lot made about how Amar’e Stoudemire could disrupt the New York Knicks chemistry when he is set to return in a couple of weeks and head coach has a lot to consider up not only his return, but Iman Shumpert’s as well in January.
Because of injuries, Jason Kidd has got the start at the 2 in each game this season, but it is expected he will come off the bench when Stoudemire returns, sliding Ronnie Brewer to the 2 and Carmelo Anthony to the 3.
Kidd was brought aboard to be the backup point guard, a role he is fine with, but considering how well the Knicks have played with the Raymond Felton-Kidd backcourt, could Woodson elect to stay with the duo on a permanent basis?
ESPN’s Jared Zwerling took a good look at how well the duo has performed this season and judging by the early success, you can make the case that they are the reason for the success.
Felton has been great controlling the pace of the Knicks’ offense, but having a pair of veteran ball handlers on the floor at the same time has meant a world of difference.
The Knicks have the lowest turnover percentage (12.1) in the league after posting the fourth worst mark a season ago.
The ball movement has been nothing short of outstanding so far.
Here are some notes from which Zwerling examined the offense.
– The Knicks best lineup (Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, Ronnie Brewer, Kidd and Felton) have outscored the opposition by 31 points.
– They have run on average 3.8 fewer isolation plays after running the most in the NBA a season ago.
– The Knicks rank in the top 10 for field goal percentage and the most efficient out of any team on the block (1.28 points per post-up with a 56.7 shooting percentage). They have posted up 39 times, and Anthony accounts for 30 of those (Rasheed Wallace is second with eight).
– Finally Zwerling looks at the offensive production as the Knicks are playing at a much slower but more efficient pace. He notes that while they have four fewer possessions per 48 minutes this season, they’re scoring 1.8 more points per 100 possessions. Overall, if you compare D’Antoni last season to Woodson since then, Woodson’s squad has scored 107.0 points per possessions, compared to 98.8.
What all of that means is that this Knicks team is better off with a pair of great decision makers in the backcourt. The slower tempo on offense also benefits the Knicks on the defensive end of the floor, which is Woodson’s calling card.
It has only been four games into the season so it is still a very small sample size, but they are certainly passing the eye test early on.
As far as Kidd is concerned, could Woodson stick with him long-term at the 2 if things keep going well?
I doubt it, but I don’t see why not? If it isn’t broke then don’t fix it. The Knicks have plenty of depth, especially when healthy, o the good news is that Woodson has plenty of options.
However if your best lineup is one that makes great decisions and gets the team into high-percentage field goal attempts as well as defends great, then it would be hard to envision Woodson changing it too much.
If that means Kidd plays the 2, and Stoudemire and Shumpert come off the bench then so be it.
The Knicks are better with Kidd-Brewer-and ‘Melo two through four than they would be with Stoudemire-‘Melo-Brewer at the same spots. That rings especially true at the defensive end of the floor where Stoudemire is nothing short of a liability defensively.
That also speaks true as regards to Shumpert, who will certainly be used for his defensive prowess, but Kidd is a much better ball handler and decision maker. He’s also a better shooter than the second-year pro.
Add all that up and Kidd should likely have a spot next to Felton for much of the season.
These are the tough decisions Woodson has ahead of him, but it is never a problem to have too much talent.
We will see in the next few weeks which direction Woodson will go.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.