If you ask Mike Woodson, he’ll tell you that injuries are the biggest reason that the Knicks have struggled this season. And that makes sense -- to a certain degree.
Tyson Chandler missed 20 games with a broken left leg. Raymond Felton’s been in and out of the lineup with various ailments (and hasn’t been great when healthy). J.R. Smith came off of offseason knee surgery and wasn’t himself early in the season.
So injuries have certainly played a role. But injuries alone don’t account for the Knicks being 12 games under .500. Woodson’s also made some mistakes.
What do you think the coach’s biggest misstep this season has been?
Below, we offer a few examples of things Woodson could have corrected this year.
1. Going big: The Knicks had plenty of success last season playing a three-guard lineup. But Woodson chose to go away from that this season. He instead tried to insert Andrea Bargnani into the starting lineup and play Carmelo Anthony at small forward.
If you look at what the Knicks have done on offense since Bargnani went down with an elbow injury, it would seem that Woodson made a mistake here.
Simply put, Anthony has been more effective at power forward, and so has the Knicks' offense. In the 42 games prior to Bargnani's injury, New York scored 101.7 points per 100 possessions. In the 10 games since Bargnani went down, that number has skyrocketed to 112.5 points per 100 possessions.
2. Pick and roll defense: The Knicks have been getting burned by the pick and roll all season. For the most part, Woodson’s allowed his players to switch on pick and rolls -- and it hasn’t worked out well.
The Knicks rank last in points per play allowed to both the screener and the ball handler on pick-and-rolls.
Getting on Woodson here is a bit unfair though. Often, players are forced to switch on screen and rolls, even if they are trying to fight through the screen.
The problem is, the Knicks’ personnel doesn’t seem to fit Woodson’s switching style. They don't have enough players who are versatile to guard multiple positions, like a Kenyon Martin. And the switching has worn on some players. Tyson Chandler openly questioned the policy after the Knicks’ blowout loss to the Nets in late January.
3. Late-game execution: The Knicks have melted down late in games several times this season. Is this all Woodson's fault? Of course not. It’s on the players to execute, but it seemed at times that they weren’t prepared for the situation. Most would say that that falls on the coach.
Here are few examples: there was Andrea Bargnani’s decision to shoot a three with the shot clock off and the Knicks up two against Milwaukee. And then you had J.R. Smith’s decision to shoot a three in Houston with the game tied and the shot clock off. Lastly, there was the night against Washington when the Knicks allowed an uncontested layup and then failed to call a timeout before the final play. Not pretty.
Sure, the players have to execute. But that kind of low-IQ approach reflects poorly on Woodson as well.
Up now: We try to present three things the Knicks can change to improve in the second half.
Jim Boeheim says Carmelo Anthony needs to join a winner this summer in free agency. What does that mean for the Knicks?
What’s next: The Knicks have four days off over the All Star Break and will play Memphis on Tuesday.
Question: What do you think Woodson’s biggest misstep was this season?
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