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Sunday, October 6, 2013
Woodson to dump two-guard lineup?

By Ian Begley

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Due to a "logjam" at shooting guard and small forward, coach Mike Woodson is planning to go with a traditional backcourt over the two-point guard backcourt that fueled the Knicks for long stretches last season.

"I know I can always go back to [a backcourt featuring point guards] Pablo [Prigioni] and Raymond [Felton], but, at this point, I’m going to try a big guard if I can and see how it plays out," Woodson said on Sunday.

The reason behind the coach's thinking is this: There are only so many minutes to spread between Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith at shooting guard and Carmelo Anthony and Metta World Peace at small forward.

Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton, left, will start in the backcourt with J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert.
Woodson's comments were a bit surprising only because the Knicks seemed to have so much success last season with a two-point guard lineup.

Due to injuries, Woodson was forced to start Prigioni and Felton in the same backcourt in mid-March.

The result was a season-high 13-game winning streak.

Overall, the Knicks were 15-1 in the regular season when Prigioni and Felton started in the backcourt. They were 9-7 in games that Jason Kidd and Felton started in the same backcourt.

It's worth noting that Woodson can still play the two-point guard alignment even if he doesn't choose to use it as his starting lineup. He can simply insert it later in the game. Of course, he can also change his mind between now and the season-opener.

If Woodson decided to go with Shumpert at shooting guard in a traditional lineup, that could lead to fewer minutes for Prigioni. Based on advanced statistics from last season, the 36-year-old Prigioni was extremely valuable for the Knicks.

New York scored 5.2 more points per 100 possessions when Prigioni was on the floor last season. He also helped with ball movement: The Knicks' assist rate, or percentage of plays that ended in an assist, was 6.8 percent higher with Prigioni on the court.

If Woodson shies away from the two-point guard lineup, it could also cut into the playing time for backup PG Beno Udrih.

Lastly, it might also limit the minutes that Anthony plays at power forward. Anthony was extremely effective at the 4 last season, scoring an NBA-high 28.7 points per game. For what it's worth, Anthony said on Sunday that the debate over whether he plays small or power forward has been a bit overblown.

"Just put me out there, put us out there, on the basketball court. Whoever's in the lineup, we'll adjust to each other. We'll try to make it work and we'll go from there," he said.

He also said he'd welcome a return to small forward.

"I mean, that's what got me here," Anthony said.

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