By John Schmeelk
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Watching Knicks fans bicker back and forth on Twitter is both amusing and infuriating at the same time. It’s infuriating because of the misunderstanding and application of things that people consider facts, but more often than not are assumptions or predictions. It’s amusing because everyone takes their opinions so seriously, and cannot even fathom a different viewpoint.
For any Knicks fan or reporter to think that they know anything about this team before they even see a preseason game is being foolish. The 2012 edition of the Knicks are much different from the 2011 edition in terms of personnel and coaching. Mike Woodson had to take over the Knicks midstream last year and had to deal with a series of injuries. He made do with the best he could. He had to adjust midstream and fly by the seat of his pants.
There is absolutely no telling what the Knicks will be on the offensive side of the ball this season with Woodson installing his own system over the course of a month’s worth of practices. Last year with the Knicks he had no choice but to turn to an isolation-style offense, since he had no point guard to speak of. Jeremy Lin was out with his bad knee, Baron Davis was banged up and over the hill, and then there was only zombie Mike Bibby. No one could set up the offense, so relying on Carmelo Anthony to not only score, but also facilitate was not optional.
Of course, if 2012 was the only sample, there wouldn’t be so much concern. The problem dates back to Woodson’s time with the Hawks, where the ball often found itself in the hands of Joe Johnson on the wing as the rest of the team watched him go one-on-one. Much like with the Knicks last year, however, the Hawks didn’t have much of a point guard. Bibby was old and not much more than a spot-up shooter. So was his hand forced into running a Johnson isolation offense there as well? Or is that type of “watch the star create” offense really what Woodson is all about?
Put simply: The Knicks cannot win a championship playing that way. Will Woodson fall back into that habit with the Knicks, or will the presence of a good pick-and-roll player in Raymond Felton and finisher in Amar’e Stoudemire change his thinking? Will a distributor and leader like Jason Kidd, and a veteran point guard in Pablo Prigioni, make him go in a different direction?
Remember that Woodson was an assistant coach for Larry Brown in Detroit, a team that won a title because of unselfish play, ball movement and the lack of a true star to dominate the ball. Surely Woodson took something from his time there. He must also remember some of the good stuff from his time with Mike D’Antoni, whose offense was dynamic with a true point guard. For him to ignore those principles that had such success with Felton and Stoudemire would be silly.
The good news about the Knicks is that they can be counted on to play defense for the first time in a long time. Woodson brings solid concepts, and the team has a number of good individual defenders in Tyson Chandler, Felton, Ronnie Brewer, Iman Shumpert and Marcus Camby. There’s no reason that they won’t be a top 10 defensive team. But can they score?
I can’t answer that question yet. I need to see some preseason games and watch how Woodson utilizes this roster. Anyone that says they know how the offense is going to be run right now is lying. They don’t. Nobody does. And no, watching practice live on MSG or in person isn’t enough for me, either. I need to see it when the lights are on against real competition. It’s only then that we’ll know exactly what the Knicks’ offense will look like. Then we’ll know how good this team can be. We’ll start figuring all this out on Thursday night when the Knicks play the Wizards. Until then, it’s all noise.
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Do you think that the Knicks’ offense will be better than it was last season? Worse? Let us know in the comments section below…