Tommy DeeThe Knicks have won just 5 of their last 13 games and despite really coasting through the first few months of the season they find themselves stuck in gear in January. While mid season struggles are very common (both the 1993-94 and 1999 Knicks had 5-8 stretches) the Knicks need to right the ship. We talked about how much time the team could borrow not too long ago, and it’s looking more and more like some serious questions need answering.
They miss Ray Felton. But more than that Mike Woodson has gone away from the successful formula by moving Carmelo Anthony to the 3 spot and by making Jason Kidd the primary ball handler. Earlier, the Knicks were featuring pick and roll down the middle then getting good ball movement to Kidd who would shoot or make an extra pass. Same situation off of Melo post ups. The offense was much more fluid and spaced out for driving and kicking. Prigioni is a pick and roll specialist, he needs to focus on being more aggressive in getting Chandler the ball after getting in the lane. Woodson did say earlier in the year he wanted to save Melo from having to guard PFs, but Anthony has to find a way to grind it out right here. It’s obvious the guy is hurt, like last year, but the team simply cannot afford to watch him sit over an extended period.
Felton and Kidd supported each other very well. That’s why, for now, it makes sense to start Prigioni as the primary ball handler with Kidd and move Melo back to the 4. The Knicks face young, inexperienced legs coming up in the Hornets and the Pistons and would do well to control tempo. They can’t just rely on J.R. Smith’s ability to create his own shot. Prigs has to find some sort of chemistry with Tyson Chandler, who seemingly hasn’t had one of these in a while.
It’s a scary thing to think about but the Knicks desperately miss Rasheed Wallace’s rebounding and ability to attempt to stretch the defense on offense. With Wallace on the second unit the Knicks could close more possessions and allow for space. In fact, I think Sheed and Amar’e would work well together in the sense of Sheed stretching the floor off Amar’e pick and rolls. This can also take some minutes away from Melo in the second and third quarters and allow him to rest a bit.
The offense that was so well-structured and balanced, which carried them for so long has sputtered. The space is gone as is the fluidity and rhythm. Shots are being forced and aren’t coming very easy. Woodson needs to make the proper line up adjustments and that starts with putting Prigioni at PG, moving Kidd off the ball and putting Melo back at the 4.