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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Opening Tip: The Knicks' offensive style

By Jared Zwerling

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: Will the Knicks be more of a halfcourt- or transition-style team?

I've been asked this question a few times recently. This is a halfcourt-style team, and three factors come into play here. First, Carmelo Anthony often winds up in isolations and post-ups. Second, the Knicks' have pick-and-roll depth between their three seasoned point guards -- Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni -- and their seasoned bigs -- Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby.

Those two offensive setups -- working through Anthony and the pick-and-roll -- are engineered for the halfcourt. With Melo, the Knicks won't want to burn out their best player by having him run too much. He's already expending a lot of energy in the halfcourt, and he has to save some of that for defense.

In addition, Mike Woodson has never preached running at all costs. He believes that great defense first leads to fastbreak opportunities. So while Woody has encouraged Felton, Kidd and Prigioni to push more at times, he will want to maintain a slower pace to activate pick-and-rolls, isos and posts -- the last two are the bread and butter of his kind of offense.

However, when the Knicks run, they have some tools. Felton, Kidd and Prigioni all have great court vision, even if they're not the fastest point guards on the court. Guys like J.R. Smith and James White are able to fill the lanes well. They are highlight reels waiting to happen. Anthony and Steve Novak would be ready to go with their quick release, while Stoudemire and Chandler would be quickly getting up the court as trailers to finish the final pass or dunk the putback.

Above all else, halfcourt and transition defense is what's most important. While the current numbers in the preseason show the Knicks are scoring much fewer fastbreak points than their opposition, what the margin really represents is how poorly they've gotten back on defense. And that's originated from how stagnant they've been in their halfcourt sets. The Knicks need to move more on both ends of the court.

It hasn't appeared that Woodson has called too many plays so far, but the stationary mode has also been in place because the Knicks haven't really jelled yet. Injuries have prevented them from developing consistency, and that should come with time considering how deep and experienced they are.

Do you think the Knicks will be more of a halfcourt- or transition-style team? Leave us your comments below.

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