Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Should Kenyon Martin start during the Knicks' West Coast trip to help the team adjust to faster-paced, guard-oriented matchups?
The Knicks' next five opponents, the Warriors, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Clippers and Jazz, all play at a faster pace based on their average number of possessions per 48 minutes. In fact, while the Knicks are second-worst in the NBA in fast-break points per game (9.0), the Nuggets, Clippers, Jazz and Warriors are all in the top 10.
With that being said, should Mike Woodson consider starting Martin over Kurt Thomas at power forward for more defensive speed in the frontcourt during transition opportunities? In half-court sets, Martin is better at trapping pick and rolls because of his athleticism and defensive versatility, and he can put up a decent fight against quicker guards and forwards. He proved that against Kevin Durant last Thursday.
Offensively, Martin will also benefit the Knicks on their road trip because chances are, they'll be looking to run more to keep up with their opponents. Martin is still fast enough at 35 years old to get up and down the court to finish fast-break dunks, which we saw against the Jazz on Saturday night. What's key is that those opportunities start with making stops, and Martin brings that old-school toughness.
"I knew that the moment they said they were going to bring him here," Tyson Chandler said. "That's one thing he's done throughout his entire career. He's going to bring intensity, he's going to play tough-minded, he's going to be physical out there, and that's what we need."
An underrated asset about Martin is his knowledge of Western Conference team's tendencies. He most recently played for the Nuggets and then the Clippers.
Even if Carmelo Anthony returns on Monday night against the Warriors, Martin could still start alongside the Knicks' star at the 3 or 4. The one disadvantage with Martin in the first five is that he doesn't shoot 3-pointers. James White, who's been starting, is 3-for-5 from downtown in his last three games, and by the way Raymond Felton and Chandler play off pick and rolls, outside looks come in handy at the start of games.
On the other hand, Martin excels with his inside scoring ability, which comes as a benefit off the bench with Amar'e Stoudemire out for six weeks with a right knee injury. STAT was the team's premier down-low scorer in the second unit.
Do you think Martin should start? Leave us your comments below.
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