I’m typically not one to rush to judgement, especially not without the NBA season even 5 percent complete. And I’m definitely not one to rely on small sample sizes, or really quote from any subset of stats that point to the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves being among the best teams in basketball (so, any 2013-2014 stats). Still, there are some alarming coaching decisions over the New York Knicks’ first four games that are cause for grave concern.
Two Is Better Than One
This has been rehashed over and over again, but is so startling I must state it again – the Knicks are a much, much better team when two point guards share the floor. And not just over these first four games: the Knicks were a +264 in the regular season last year with two or more PGs on the floor (43% of minutes played) and just a +84 with one or fewer PGs on the floor (57% of minutes played).
The two point guard alignment keyed both the Knicks’ 18-6 start (Felton/Kidd starting) and 13-game win streak down the stretch in March and April (Felton/Prigioni starting). That Felton/Prigioni alignment had a 15-1 record, marking the NBA’s highest win percentage in the past 30 years for a duo with at least 15 starts.
The Knicks’ offensive rating was higher, their defensive rating was lower and they attempted and converted more three-pointers with two point guards. As I’ve stated, it doesn’t really matter who starts, but the Knicks have three (sorry, Toure’) NBA-capable PGs on the roster – two of them should be on the court as much as possible.
Carmelo Anthony has played the most minutes in the NBA this season, and in the last three games has logged 42, 44 and 45 minutes. That’s way too much. His 37 minutes per game last season were the third highest in his career, and even that was too much.
Perhaps the reason Carmelo feels like he’s being passive late in games is because he’s completely gassed. No excuses if a lack of conditioning is the issue, but Mike Woodson simply cannot ride Melo this hard for the entire season and expect him to be fresh when it matters most in the playoffs. Considering he’s the franchise player and perhaps their most indispensable piece, the minutes have to go down.
I’ll be honest – I rarely pay attention to who’s inactive each game. But that doesn’t mean the coach shouldn’t. If Mike Woodson is going to stick to rotating Kenyon Martin/Amar’e Stoudemire every game in a platoon, then either one should be inactive in their off night. When Tyson Chandler went down in the first quarter last night against the Bobcats, Woodson was forced to take the bubble wrap off Kenyon Martin and play him out of order because inexplicably Cole Aldrich wasn’t dressed. Having your two backup bigs on strict 10-15 minute limits is no way to run a basketball team. Cole Aldrich needs to dress in uniform, if only for the fact that he’s 7 feet tall and freely available to play minutes in emergencies.