On paper, the New York Knicks appear to be a very deep team, in fact one of the deepest in the NBA.
However games aren’t played on paper and apparently the Knicks second unit doesn’t get much respect around the league.
One sign that the Knicks aren’t as deep as we may have originally thought is the fact that Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has shortened his rotation from 12 earlier in the season to only nine now.
February 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Steve Novak (16) reacts to making a three-point shot against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first quarter of an NBA game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Another is the fact an NBA scout recently explained to ESPN’s Jared Zwerling that the Knicks second unit doesn’t strike fear in anyone around the NBA.
"“Their second unit scares no one,” a veteran NBA scout told Zwerling. “I’m not sure why they didn’t make a trade.”"
What the anonymous scout says does have some merit.
Look at the fact that Tyson Chandler played 42 minutes Wednesday against the Warriors. Woodson simply couldn’t afford to take him out and all of the Knicks older players are playing more minutes than they probably should.
Coming into the season, it was felt that Woodson would be able to manage the minutes of the Knicks vets, but that hasn’t been the case.
The same scout also adds that Woodson’s stubbornness and unwillingness to manage minutes could have his job in jeopardy.
"“He is stubborn, and that could get him the ax,” the scout also said to Zwerling. “He definitely needs to play more guys. It would be beneficial to them. It can’t hurt.”"
What is Woodson to do though?
Their second unit has problems stopping other teams.
Even when Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin can contribute, will it help?
Guys like Paul George, Rudy Gay and Evan Turner have torched the Knicks second unit lately. Also look at the second quarter against the Warriors when Stephen Curry scored 23 points with most of the Knicks starters on the bench.
They can’t defend the pick-and-roll and rotate very poorly and other team’s players take advantage.
In addition, a guy like Steve Novak routinely gets beat off the dribble, so he puts every else on the floor in a bad spot scrambling to help.
Right now out the Knicks second unit, which includes Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith, Novak and Amar’e Stoudemire, teams attack Novak and Amar’e and will continue to do so and will continue to have success.
James White, Kurt Thomas and Chris Copeland have all fallen completely out of the rotation, but in the case of White and Thomas, they represent a mild upgrade defensively.
Does Woodson sacrifice offense for defense more often?
When he took over for Mike D’Antoni, the emphasis was on the defensive end of the floor, but that isn’t the emphasis right now as only Chandler and Iman Shumpert are competent defenders on this team.
Or does he continue to burn his starters out and possibly wear them out before the playoffs come?
My personal opinion is that this scout is being a bit harsh, but his statements do have a lot of merit.
Most teams don’t have a deep bench comparable to the Knicks as Stoudemire and Smith could start for most teams.
However the Knicks second unit must find a way to be more efficient stopping the opposition. If not it will continue to kill them.
As for Woodson, I do think he is stubborn in his ways and think he needs to find a way to mix up his rotations and get more out of his second unit. I don’t agree about it costing him his job, but I do feel that he can maximize the production from the talent that he has in a better fashion.
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