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What will the New York Knicks rotation look like to start the season?
Joe Caporoso - I’m going to guess Mike Woodson rolls with Ray Felton-Iman Shumpert-Andrea Bargnani-Carmelo Anthony-Tyson Chandler as his starting five to begin the season. Regardless of the nonsensical chatter about JR Smith moving into the starting line-up, he should remain the Knicks top option off the bench and work with Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih to give the Knicks a deep range of options at Guard. In the frontcourt, Metta World Peace is likely going to see heavy minutes bouncing between the 3 and 4, while Kenyon Martin and Amare Stoudemire will likely be situationally worked in depending on defensive and offensive needs. If injuries dictate it or he takes advantage of likely limited early season opportunities, Tim Hardaway Jr could also see some spot minutes on the wing.
As the season progresses, I think we’ll see less and less Amare, whether that is due to injury or general ineffectiveness. The Knicks will need Kenyon Martin’s defense and energy off the bench. It will be interesting to see how the crunch time unit shakes out. Metta World Peace is likely to end up out there instead of Bargnani, while it will either be Smith or Shumpert at shooting guard depending on who has the hot hand.
Chris Celletti - The Knicks rotation will look something like this.
PG – Raymond Felton
SG – Iman Shumpert
SF – Carmelo Anthony
PF – Andrea Bargnani
C – Tyson Chandler
As for the bench, it sounds like J.R. Smith might be ready for action a little sooner than expected, and if he is I think he’ll fall back into his role as the nominal Sixth Man. There’s been some buzzing about internal pressure to start Smith, but I think Woodson realizes the success Smith had last season coming off the bench, and at least to begin the year, will go back to that well. The rest of the “second unit” will largely consist of Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, Pablo Prigioni and a rotation/platoon of Amare Stoudemire/Kenyon Martin. I expect to see plenty of two-point guard, small lineups, where Udrih or Prigioni join Felton in the back court, pushing Shumpert and and Melo up a spot with Chandler remaining at center. Well, at least I hope this happens a lot, because I think these type of lineups are the Knicks’ best. When the Knicks need stops, we may see the trio of World Peace, Shumpert and Chandler, and when the Knicks need buckets, do we dare see Melo share the floor with Smith and Bargnani? I think we will, with the hopes that Chandler can hold down the paint and take care of the rebounding duties.
Truth is, we won’t really know until the season starts. But what this exercise tells us is that there is a lot of uncertainty in the lineup and rotation. There’s a lot on Woodson’s shoulders, and it will be interesting to see how he doles out these responsibilities. There are also the questions of the final few roster spots and if, say, Tim Hardaway Jr. has a significant role once the regular season starts. If, and this is not a big if, Stoudemire and Martin have health issues, are Cole Aldrich, Jeremy Tyler, Ike Diogu or Josh Powell good enough to play serious bench minutes? Many questions and not too many answers at the current juncture.
Kevin Smith - There’s a big difference between what I think the Knicks rotation should look like and what it will wind up actually being. In the long run, I’d like to see Mike Woodson do away with major minutes of small ball, but that doesn’t appear likely. It’s been reported that Shumpert is battling J.R. Smith for the shooting guard spot, but until the reigning Sixth Man of the Year returns from injury/suspension, it’s assumed that the starting lineup will consist of Felton, Shump, Metta Ron Artest World Peace, Melo, and Chandler. Assuming we’ll see more of the dual point guard set, there should be about 25-30 minutes to split between Prigioni and Udrih. My biggest fear is seeing Amar’e and Bargnani attempt to play defense together, but I think Woodson is wise enough to limit their time on the floor with each other. One of them should be paired with Kenyon Martin to form the second team frontcourt.
Last season, the end of the bench was heavily utilized, but I don’t foresee that happening this time around. It doesn’t look like there are any gems like Chris Copeland at the bottom of the roster, and unless Woodson starts a guy like James White for a while again, it looks like the rotation will be much tighter.