Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Starks: Melo, team buying into Woodson
By Jared Zwerling
Recently, Raymond Felton said the last time he was on a close-knit team like this season's Knicks was in 2005, when his North Carolina Tar Heels won the national championship.
As John Starks told ESPNNewYork.com recently, the players have accepted Mike Woodson's system, and it's enabled them to get off to the only undefeated start in the NBA.
"Everybody's buying in from Carmelo all the way down to the 12th man on the bench," said Starks, who currently has gigs with the Knicks and MSG Network. "It's amazing when you make a couple of changes and you bring in some solid player. But I think the key is Carmelo, the way he's playing, coming off the summer that he had obviously over in the Olympics and being in the type of shape that he's in and his willingness to go out there and play the brand of basketball coach Woodson wants him to play. So it's been great."
Starks said defense has been "the most impressive thing" about the Knicks' early run. They're holding opponents to a league-best 87.8 points per game.
"I think Coach Woodson having a full training camp to really implement his style of play that he wants to play, and obviously Jason Kidd and then Raymond Felton at the point-guard position to solidify that position, really has made a big difference," he said. "People talk about the ball movement, but when you've got two natural point guards out there on the court, you're going to have ball movement, and that's what you see right now."
When asked if he could remember a previous two-point-guard backcourt, Starks said no. Because of Felton and Kidd's effectiveness, the Knicks rank No. 1 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.87), even a slight nod above the Heat (1.86), which features LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and plenty of worthy shooters.
"It's pretty unusual and Coach Woodson likes veteran guys, because veteran guys pick things up real quick," Starks said. "You don't have to go over things a long time in order to get things accomplished."
The more the Knicks keep winning, the more fans are going to plead for Amar'e Stoudemire to come off the bench when he returns. Woodson also said on Monday that he's "very happy" with the first unit right now, comprising Felton, Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
On Stoudemire, Starks said he didn't know what Woodson is planning.
"That's going to be totally up to coach Woodson. That's not my call," he said. "We just look forward to having him back and when he comes back, we hope that he's ready to go."