Tuesday, March 27, 2012
D'An is gone, but offensive pace remains
By Jared Zwerling
The biggest question when Mike D'Antoni stepped down on March 14 was how Mike Woodson would adjust the offense, if at all. That had been D'Antoni's baby since he took over the Knicks in 2008, and something he's always been known to care for since his days with the Phoenix Suns.
Would the Knicks' offense, which D'Antoni wanted to be fast-paced so there would be more possessions, shots and eventually points, become slower and halfcourt-oriented to suit Woodson's traditional schemes?
Well, entering Monday, the stats show the Knicks' offensive style has changed very little in Woodson's first seven games as interim head coach.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, under D’Antoni, the Knicks had 96.91 possessions per 48 minutes, while under Woodson they have had 95.43 possessions per 48 minutes (less than 1.5 fewer possessions per 48 minutes under Woodson). Interestingly, the Knicks are averaging just over four more points per game under Woodson than D’Antoni (100.9 in Woodson’s first seven games, compared to 96.7 in the team's first 42 games under D’Antoni).
Woodson has said he hasn't gone too far away from D'Antoni's system, except adding in some new halfcourt sets and out-of-bounds plays to mostly get Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire open in their sweet spots: the post and midrange. Jeremy Lin has especially noticed the changes because he's the starting point guard and has to prioritize where Anthony and Stoudemire are on the court at all times. But he said the alterations haven't been significant, a notion that supports the statistics.
"A little bit different, yeah," Lin said. "I mean, we'll be in different halfcourt sets every once in a while, but there's still a lot of our old offense still being used. So it's a mix."
Tyson Chandler also said things have felt different, which he should. He hasn't been running the pick-and-roll as much with Lin because the Knicks are going to Anthony and Stoudemire earlier in the offense where they feel comfortable catching the ball and going to work.
"It's different because it's two different coaching techniques, two different styles, but ultimately we just want to score the ball, so however you can do it," Chandler said. "Whatever's rolling, whether it's a fastbreak, whether it's pick-and-roll, whether it's post up, we've got to find ways to get everybody involved and figure out who's going at that particular time."
Now that Stoudemire is out indefinitely, expect more pick-and-rolls between Lin and Chandler. That's exactly what occurred more in the first half of the Knicks-Bucks game Monday night between Chandler and Baron Davis, who started in place of the injured Lin (sore left knee).
More importantly, the Knicks have to buckle up their offensive rhythm a bit more to erase many of the turnovers. They've had more than 60 in their past three games. There's still a bit too much freelancing going on, which, as a result, leads to some uncertainty as far as where player are positioned on the court and, therefore, more giveaways.