Last season the most successful lineups the New York Knicks rolled out were ones featuring a two point guard set in the back court. Most expected the Knicks to follow the same blue print going into this season, especially when the team acquired Beno Udrih, giving the Knicks three legitimate options at the point. However, as we move closer to opening night, it looks like head coach Mike Woodson is willing to scrap the two point guard model in exchange for a more formidable defensive lineup.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson announced on Tuesday that he would start Iman Shumpert at shooting guard on Thursday for the Knicks’ preseason game against the Washington Wizards. Sources close to the Knicks coaching staff say that Woodson has been leaning towards the idea of starting a more traditional lineup this season.
“Unfortunately, J.R. hasn’t been in camp to fight for it and right now Iman’s ahead of schedule,” Woodson said of the shooting guard competition. “So he’s going to be the guy who’s going end up being in there [on Thursday].”
If Woodson sticks to his guns and decides to start either Iman Shumpert, or eventually J.R. Smith at the shooting guard spot, the most directly effected player would be Beno Udrih, who would be relegated to third string point guard, and likely see his minutes cut dramatically.
Beyond Beno being burried in the depth chart, the most obvious effect of this change would be a better defensive lineup for New York. Last year, one of the Knicks weakest areas defensively was keeping opposing guards out of the paint, and starting Shumpert would go a long way in solving that problem. The change would also allow Pablo Prigioni to take command of a talented second unit that would be led by J.R Smith and Metta World Peace.
We still have two weeks until the Knicks play their opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, so a lot could change between now and then. As we sit here today, though, I think all Knicks fans should feel optimistic about this shift in Mike Woodson’s plans.