In this week’s TOK Roundtable, the staff pretends for a second that they’re Mike Woodson and offers their opinion on the following: Which Knicks player should be getting more playing time? Which should be getting less?
Chris Celletti - Pablo Prigioni is a candidate for more minutes. (I would have never said this 8 months ago, because I had no idea who Pablo Prigioni was 8 months ago.) There’s no question that the Knicks can become extremely stagnant on offense. However, especially recently, Prigioni has been running really effective pick-and-rolls, often times actually completing the purpose of the play and hitting the roller in the lane. Prigioni has created easy baskets for the likes of Chris Copeland (another who could see more minutes, though only when the Knicks need some offense), Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby. Prigioni usually plays about 15 minutes a game, but with the Knicks shorthanded, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get the Argetine some extra time. On top of bringing some offense flow, there’s always the possibility of a backcourt surprise swipe, which is always one of the more exciting individual moments of any game it happens in.
Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’ve been on the “Jason Kidd better not break down” train all season. We all want the Knicks to win the division and get home court in the first round of the playoffs, but what’s most important is that this team is healthy when playoff time comes. The Knicks’ best chance of making serious noise in the postseason is by getting back to the way they were playing when they started out 18-5. Kidd was a huge part of that. He played his best overall ball of the season in the first 20 games or so, which isn’t to say that Kidd hasn’t been effective since then. Despite the poor shooting recently, Kidd has contributed on the defensive end and is always a calming influence when on the floor. But still, the Knicks need Kidd healthy and as fresh as possible in the postseason. Because of that, I think Mike Woodson needs to seriously monitor his minutes and curtail them a bit whenever possible.
Tim Murray – A player who needs to play more is Chris Copeland. He’s currently averaging only 13.3 mpg which is fourth to last on the team but is seventh in points with 7.3 on 46.8% shooting. If the Knicks were to give him more minutes, as a rookie, he would potentially develop at a quicker rate and may add some unexpected value during the playoffs especially if the Knicks’ frontcourt continues to have injury problems.
A player who needs to play less is Steve Novak. His three-point shooting has gone down 6% from this season to last season but the difference in his presence on the court seems much greater. He is making less threes in big situations and is not going on little streaks that gave the Knicks a quick momentum boost like last season. Novak’s only real contribution is three-point shooting so if he isn’t going to fully deliver on that front, he is too great of a liability on defense to keep his minutes at the amount that they currently are, 20.3 per game.
Matt Fritz – Guy I would give more minutes to: Kenyon Martin – I can’t say I expected this kind of productivity from Kenyon Martin. Especially with the absence of Tyson Chandler, Woodson needs to find as many minutes for Martin as possible. In the past week, Kenyon is shooting a superb 17 of 28 from the field, while averaging 9 points a game and 6.5 rebounds a game. Most importantly though, Martin brings that toughness on defense that the Knicks usually lack, especially without Chandler. Even when Chandler returns, I feel that Martin should become the starting PF. With him and Chandler manning the middle of that Knick defense, opponents points will be hard to come by.
Guy I would give less minutes to: Marcus Camby – With the emergence of Kenyon Martin, I would limit Camby’s minutes. I know he brings some veteran leadership, but you just don’t get a whole lot from him when he’s on the floor. He should flashes of his early days last Thursday against Portland, but after that Camby scored just 1 point in the following three games. He will give you a couple rebounds here and there, but other than that I just don’t see a need for him to play much.
Kevin Smith – Iman Shumpert strained his knee on Wednesday, adding to the Knicks’ unlucky streak of injuries of late, but I’m still not willing to give Coach Woodson a pass on his lack of time on the floor. Shump’s minutes have been rather erratic since his return. In the month of March alone he has played as many as 33 minutes and as few as 17. Even if his ACL surgery prevents him from logging major time, can we at least see a little consistency? For some reason Woodson loves to start him, but it makes more sense for a player with such defensive impact to be on the court more in the second half. I can sometimes be overly optimistic, but despite getting dinged up last night, I think in due time we will see Shump at full force
It’s been all hands on deck with all of the injuries lately, making it difficult to single out someone for getting too much time. I’m actually pretty satisfied with Woodson’s rotations, but gun to the head I’d have to say Steve Novak. For the season he averages a bit over 20 minutes a game, but in the month of March he’s getting just over 16 minutes a night, which is right around where he should be. It’s necessary for him to be on the court to space the floor properly, but a lack in defense should result in a lack of playing time. You have to give it up to Woodson for juggling the rotation properly during such a tough stretch for the Knicks.