Mike Woodon hasn’t committed to a long-term starting unit yet, but he’s selected his starters for tonight’s preseason opener against the Boston Celtics. He’ll be sticking with last season’s two-point guard lineup in the backcourt (Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni) partly because Iman Shumpert has missed parts of training camp due to health concerns with his knees and shoulder. He’s professed a desire to play a more traditional starting backcourt this season, though, with either Shump or J.R. Smith (last season, Woodson had him absolutely locked into a sixth man role), depending on who earns the starting gig.
In the frontcourt, Woodson will be going with Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler. Woodson has stated on multiple occasions that he views small forward and power forward as virtually interchangeable in today’s NBA, so we shouldn’t read too much into whether or not Melo or Bargnani is the nominal “power forward.”
Ultimately, Bargnani will provide the Steve Novak-style spacing that will allow Melo to either isolate or post up, and Bargnani will guard whichever of the opponent’s frontcourt players is the least mobile and perimeter-oriented. This will be our first look at the Bargnani-Carmelo pairing, so it should be an interesting game. Bargnani is accustomed to creating his own shot and being among his team’s primary scoring options, so there’s a chance he could thrive as a secondary scorer playing alongside the league’s reigning scoring title holder.
Their defensive approach will also be noteworthy. While they’re playing against a weak offensive opponent and you obviously can’t expect Bargnani to have fully learned the New York Knicks‘ defensive system, this will be fans’ first opportunity to see if Melo-Bargnani is a viable pairing on the defensive end.