The New York Knicks start their 2013 preseason schedule today, and as always, Empire Writes back is here to break down what you should feel good about, and what should leave you scratching your head in the 2013 New York Knicks training camp preview.
Who’s In: Beno Undrih, Pablo Prigioni (re-signed)
Who’s Out: Jason Kidd (retired)
Projected Depth Chart: Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Beno Udrih
On the surface this group looks like it can be better than the Knicks crop of point guards from last season. Sure, the Knicks will miss Jason Kidd’s veteran leadership and steady presence on the floor, but from a pure basketball standpoint Beno Udrih is an upgrade over the past-his-prime Kidd.
Expect to see a healthy dose of two point guard lineups featuring Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. Last March, when Mike Woodson decided to feature lineups with Prigioni and Raymond Felton in the starting backcourt, the Knicks went on a run of 13 straight wins. In fact, of all the possible five-man lineups the Knicks ran out last season, the lineup featuring Prigioni and Felton on the court together was one of the strongest — shooting an eye opening 53 percent from the field and an incredibly efficient 49 percent from behind the arc.
Just how effective was the Felton-Prigioni backcourt? They shared the floor for 298 minutes last season and the Knicks had an offensive rating, calculated by how many points they scored per 100 possessions, of 119.4. That rating was 10.8 points higher than the team’s average for the season.
Also, the Knicks’ assist-to-turnover ratio improved by 20 percent when Felton and Prigioni shared the floor together.
Offensively, this group should excel throughout the season, the real problems will likely show on the defensive end.
Last season the opposing starting point guard averaged 22.6 points per game against the Knicks — that number was the highest per game average the Knicks allowed among all five positions. Basically, the Knicks point guards struggled to keep defenders in front of them, and unfortunately that will likely not change this season.
The Knicks have improved their wing defense with a fully healthy Iman Shumpert and Metta World Peace in the fold, which should take some pressure off the point guards defensively. But still, this group will likely have its struggles guarding the quicker point guards on a nightly basis.
Beno Udrih is not known for being a great defender, so he should help little in this area, but Udrih is an excellent option off the bench, and will lead what could be one of the better second units in the entire league.