Mike Woodson Shows Desperation By Putting J.R. Smith Into New York Knicks’ Starting Lineup

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Woodson, desperate to fix the New York Knicks‘ recent trend of horrible starts, is starting to grasp at straws a bit. He’ll be inserting J.R. Smith into the starting lineup against the Atlanta Hawks tonight.

J.R. is, as we all know, an extremely talented scorer, but he’s played in just one game so far this year after returning from knee surgery and his five-game drug suspension, looking awful in it. He had no rhythm whatsoever, turning the ball over four times while going just 1-for-9 from the field. The Knicks’ first quarter struggles have been dire, but it seems a bit odd that the proposed solution is to start a player who hasn’t had a good game yet this season. It could be a good sign of faith designed to build Smith’s confidence, but it also might be a bit soon to throw the veteran guard on the court for the opening tip. It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes he ends up playing.

Woodson’s planned starting lineup for the game is Raymond Felton, J.R., Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani. The Melo-Smith-Shump-Felton grouping wasn’t particularly effective last year, even with Tyson Chandler on the floor, as they got outscored by opponents by 6.8 points per 100 possessions. That lineup fared poorly defensively and on the glass, and those two problems figure to get worse with Bargnani acting as the starting center. Woodson has stated that Kenyon Martin will play so his time spent at center should help, but it’s not clear if Cole Aldrich will have a role off the bench and it’s not clear if that starting lineup with Bargnani at center can score at a high enough rate to overcome its massive defensive shortcomings.

We can probably expect Woodson to continue to tinker with the team’s starting lineup until the problem is finally fixed.

Chris Harrison is a New York Knicks and NBA writer at RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @chris_harrison1.

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