A New 5-Man Crew
J.R. Smith will join the starting unit on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. At the morning shootaround, head coach Mike Woodson announced the change with Smith replacing Pablo Prigioni in the starting five next to Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, and Andrea Bargnani.
Smith summed up the move in a simple statement, “I think the best part about it is right after the warm-ups you get straight to the action.”
The 6th Man of the Year last season shifts into a different role for the short term and he described the responsibility on his shoulders when examining the big picture for the team.
“I do think it’s my job to make sure the team is energized, make sure the team is doing the right things because at the end of the day they are going to look at very few faces and see what the problem is, so I don’t want to be one of those people. I just want to be out there helping my teammates to the best of our ability and get our backs off the wall,” Smith explained.
Spacing is always a key component to an efficient offense. The Knicks are searching for a starting unit that can provide Anthony and Bargnani the necessary room on the floor to operate and score at an efficient rate. A wing that can drop the ball in the bucket at a high clip might be what the doctor ordered.
“I think the defense won’t help as much,” Smith added. “I think I’m a pretty good outside shooter, so that’s pretty much a threat for them and attacking the basket as well, so it kind of helps Melo out a little bit.”
As far as Pablo Prigioni, Woodson reiterated his importance on the squad and now the point man for the second unit.
“I know what I’m gonna get in Pablo in terms of his defensive pressure up the floor and running our ball club, occasionally making a shot here and there. I think that’s important,” Woodson stated.
Dealing with the NBA’s most used play call is arguably the biggest challenge facing teams around the league. Several offensive opportunities are derived from the pick-and-roll. After speaking with assistant coach Jim Todd and hearing the thoughts of Woodson, the Knicks want to clean up the pick-and-roll and transition defense. Woodson commented on a potential zone defense we could see from New York.
“Especially when teams are playing a lot of high pick-and-rolls maybe we can get them doing something else besides the high pick-and-roll and go to something else, maybe there zone offense, so we’ll see.”
STAT and Martin
At Tuesday’s practice, Woodson told reporters Amar’e Stoudemire will rest against the Hawks and Kenyon Martin would receive court time after not seeing the floor in the loss to San Antonio on Sunday.