The Knicks Defensive Scheme

Jonah Ballow


The Knicks are excelling in just about every facet of the game in the early part of the 2012-13 season.  Obviously, it’s a long haul but New York displayed a much improved effort on the defensive end of the court last year under Mike Woodson.  The additions of Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, and even Pablo Prigioni on the perimeter to go along with Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace, and Marcus Camby in the frontcourt have provided the Knicks with a stifling defensive unit. 

“We can be one of the best if we stay committed to what we are doing just taking it a practice and game at a time,” Woodson stated.

Through four games, New York ranks No. 1 in points allowed – only giving up 87.5 points per game.  The spectacular defensive performances have allowed the Knicks to feast on their opponents’ turnovers and quickly generate offense from the miscues.  Additionally, this year’s squad believes they can win any game regardless of its offensive output as many times throughout an NBA season a team will suffer through shooting droughts. 

Woodson has rolled with a small-ball lineup – utilizing Carmelo Anthony at the power forward spot, which creates significant mismatches from an offensive standpoint.  Anthony has not only delivered buckets, he has played spirited defense thus far and Tyson Chandler believes the Knicks can adapt to any opponent.

“We understand at times, we are going to be undersized but we stick by principles and help one another than it doesn’t matter who you have on the floor,” Chandler said.

Specifically, New York owns versatility at every position and whether the team decides to feature a small or big lineup, it can frustrate the opposition with a read-and-switch defensive scheme. 

“Woody allows us to switch and I think we all have confidence in ourselves that one through four and sometimes depending on the five guys; we can switch and have the advantage in most situations,” Brewer explained.  “Even Tyson can guard a lot of point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, and make them take tough shots on the perimeter, where if he goes inside, he is usually challenging them and altering their shots.  To me, that gives us the freedom to defend at a high level.” 

According to, the Knicks rank No. 1 in defensive efficiency, a category that determines a rating based on points allowed per 100 possessions.  New York has not allowed an opponent to reach the century mark this season and that includes wins over the Heat (1st in points per game) and the Mavericks (4th in points per game).  The site also shows the Knicks are No. 1 in defensive field goal percentage as they are only allowing teams to shoot 40.7percent from the floor.

“I see on tape when there is a breakdown, someone helps that guy and the next guys is rotating over and we are challenging shots -- doing all the dirty things that you got to do to be a good defensive team.  I’m pretty excited about that,” Woodson added.

The head man is pleased with the progress and the players are buying into the system.  In order to achieve success this year, the Knicks will ride their defense and proudly make it their calling card for the 2012-13 season.

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