New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has said all offseason that he does not know what his starting five will be this season.
It’s only mid-August, so he does have time to commit to a starting lineup before they open the season on Oct. 30 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
However, he did indicate that Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony are locked into his starting five. That leaves two spots open.
Surprisingly, Woodson has been noncommittal when asked about third-year man Iman Shumpert starting at shooting guard, which is revealing. If Shumpert doesn’t start at shooting guard, it’s likely Woodson would go with a two-point guard lineup; other than Shumpert, the Knicks don’t have many options at the position. J.R. Smith, despite being their second best offensive player, will never start, because Woodson loves what he brings off the bench. The Knicks have Tim Hardaway Jr., but it’s highly unlikely they would ask the rookie to start.
Based on that, it seems likely he will go with a starting backcourt of Pablo Prigioni and Felton. If that’s the case, Shumpert will likely play small forward, leaving Anthony at power forward and Chandler at center.
The Knicks did have tremendous success with that starting lineup last season. They ran away with the number two seed in the Eastern Conference with 13 straight games late in the regular season, with Prigioni at point guard and Felton at shooting guard. It also helped them win a playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
Should Woodson stick to that alignment? Assuming the team remains healthy, there will be a lot of talent on the bench.
If Woodson goes with Prigioni and Felton in the starting backcourt, it leaves Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire on the bench. Each of those players expect to get regular minutes this season, but it could be tricky for Woodson to find enough minutes to meet those expectations. Logistically, it’s likely at least one guy will play fewer minutes than he expected. The other reserves should fit in seamlessly. Smith will undoubtedly play big minutes, and Hardaway Jr. and Beno Udrih know they are there to provide backcourt depth.
Woodson, along with any other coach, will tell you that having too many quality players on your roster is a good problem, as long as players do not complain about minutes. The depth could prove valuable if any key players suffer injuries during the season. Every Knick fan knows how prevalent injuries were on last year’s team.
Still, if Woodson goes with a two-point guard alignment, it is interesting to think about how he will juggle the abundance of talented bodies he has on the bench.