Thursday, January 31, 2013
Opening Tip: More minutes for Prigioni?
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: Should Mike Woodson consider playing Pablo Prigioni for longer stretches?
Prigioni has had a knack lately for making a quick impact once he enters a game.
Within about 30 seconds of stepping onto the court on Sunday against the Hawks, he attacked well off a pick-and-roll and dished to Carmelo Anthony for a 3-pointer. Then on Wednesday night against the Magic, within 39 seconds of checking into the game at the start of the second quarter, Prigioni hit a 3-pointer.
From his initial impact in games, the backup point guard has usually continued to make plays and hit shots. In fact, he's made at least two 3-pointers in each of his past four games. Better yet, when he's on the court, the opposing point guard has been contained. That hasn't been the case lately at the start of games with Raymond Felton.
While Mike Woodson said Prigioni won't reach 30 minutes a night, why not at times play him more at point, sliding Felton to the two and keeping Iman Shumpert or J.R. Smith at small forward? Woodson has said Felton needs to improve his lateral movement since his injury to become a better defender, but Prigioni is better in that department. Even the defensive-minded Shumpert wants to play with him.
"I love being in there with Pablo because when he does that, it's easy for me to play off somebody like that," he said after the game tonight. "How he's, at the age he is, still doing that, that puts a smile on my face to see him go out and do that."
Of course, Woodson does have a point about the minutes. Prigioni is, after all, 35 years old and the coach would prefer not to see him join 39-year-old point guard Jason Kidd in the treatment center. Woodson has to be careful, but it doesn't mean he has to limit Prigioni to 16 minutes, like Wednesday night, either.
While some foresee Prigioni's minutes decreasing when Kidd returns, the Argentine is a "big piece to the puzzle," as Woody always says about different players, and the team will need him more as they go along.
Do you think Prigioni should get more playing time, and perhaps share the backcourt at times with Felton? Leave us your comments below.