Every week, Dave Nowinski will be taking a look at the team’s coaching performance. There’s not too much left to be said about Mike Woodson’s season, but Dave will also keep us updated on what’s sure to be a transformative offseason. Here’s how Woody fared last week:
Mike Woodson had a troubling weekend as coach of the New York Knicks. In two must-win games, the Knicks fell flat and lost. Woodson’s coaching inabilities were displayed on the defensive and offensive ends of the floor. The Knicks have brought in the legendary Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations, who has not endorsed the faltering head coach. With reports of Steve Kerr being courted to become the next head coach, Woodson might just be a stop gap at the coaching position for the Knicks. Woodson’s lame duck coaching situation has been looming over the Knicks for the second half of the season.
Woodson’s schemes have faltered since the beginning of the season, and it was evident during the Wizards and Heat games this past weekend. As all Knicks fans know, Woodson insists on running an isolation offense through Carmelo Anthony when the game is on the line. In situations where the game is under thirty seconds and within three points, Carmelo is shooting an embarrassing 8.3 percent. The problem with this offensive ideology is that it causes stagnation to the offense and makes it very hard for players other than Melo to succeed. Anthony is best utilized on the wing or driving to the basket, contrary to being a playmaker that makes his teammates better. Melo is a 44 percent shooter from midrange, and shoots 59 percent when he is three feet or closer to the hoop. Logically, Melo would best be utilized coming off screens or posting up on the elbow. In late game situations, Melo’s offensive ability is diminished when he handles the ball at the top of the key with limited floor spacing while being the focal point of the defense.
In the Wizards game, Woodson’s lack of imagination on offense was exposed during the last two minutes of the game. His incompetency on his “brilliant final play” showed his reliance on isolation sets. Melo forced Raymond Felton to give him the ball as if it were lunch money, and then proceeded to get stripped on his drive to the hoop. Losing the Wizards game was a huge blow to the Knicks playoff chances and they were unable to avenge it with a loss against the Heat on Sunday.
In Sunday’s Heat game, the Knicks were lackluster and Mike Woodson was unable to inspire his team. The game was close, for the most part, but the Knicks were outhustled in the must-win game. The Heat were without the dynamic Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh was a non-factor throughout the game. New York’s failure to get back on defense while being outplayed by a Heat team that already clinched a top-two seed is an indictment to Woodson’s coaching acumen. Additionally, Woodson’s confusing switching/rotation schemes on defense that could leave even Da Vinici confused, allowed LeBron James to exploit mismatches throughout the game. The Knicks sluggishness against the Heat was a physical representation that Woodson’s message is being ignored.
Mike Woodson is in no way a bad coach, but he has not been able to adjust his schemes to the 2013-14 Knicks roster. In 2012-13, the Knicks were a better fit for his switching defenses, and reliance on three-point shooting. Last season, the Knicks had trusted veterans and reliable shooters. Great coaches like Rick Carlisle and Gregg Popovitch model their offensive and defensive schemes around their personnel. Woodson’s stubbornness and lack of creativity on each end of the floor will be his pitfall as the Knicks coach.