Mike Woodson has been unsure of who he’ll start on opening night for the New York Knicks all preseason. He spent most of the preseason trotting out a starting lineup featuring Andrea Bargnani alongside Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler in the frontcourt, with a traditional shooting guard in the backcourt.
Recently, it seemed as if he was deciding between Bargnani and Metta World Peace at starting power forward, but in a surprise move, the Knicks PR staff has revealed that tonight’s starting lineup will be the one that finished last season: Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Melo and Chandler.
While Woodson may adjust the starting lineup from time to time depending on how certain players practice and how their bench unit meshes, returning to last year’s starters is a pleasant surprise. This lineup, eschewing both a traditional shooting guard and power forward is extremely unorthodox and incredibly fun to watch. While this particular grouping didn’t get to log many minutes together last year because it was mostly used in the latter half of the season, when Chandler was hurt, the Felton-Shump-Melo-Prigioni group with Kenyon Martin at center outscored opponents by 13.7 points per 100 possessions last year, a dominant mark.
Bringing Prigioni back into the starting lineup ensures he’ll get the minutes he deserves. With him on the court, the Knicks’ dead-last assist rate improved by 6.9 percent and they performed 5.2 points per 100 possessions better as a whole. His on/off numbers were even better than Melo and Chandler’s.
Last year, the unorthodox two-point guard starting lineup was bred mostly of necessity and the Knicks essentially stumbled into an incredibly quirky, yet effective unit. This year, it seems like Woodson, who generally prefers more traditional lineups, recognizes how effective the Knicks’ weirdness can be and has embraced it.