By John Schmeelk
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It was fairly clear when the Knicks played the Nets that they missed Jason Kidd. For the first time all year the Knicks had as many turnovers as they did assists, which numbered only 14. The offense was stagnant more times than it wasn’t, especially with Raymond Felton playing his worst game of the year. Felton played 42 minutes, but Pablo Prigioni only played ten, something Mike Woodson admitted was a mistake.
He was able to remedy that problem against the Bucks on Wednesday night and the Knicks looked like a completely different team. The ball moved easily thanks to Prigioni working his magic in the pick and roll. It was something the Knicks used a lot in the preseason, but got away from once Prigioni’s minutes got reduced in the regular season. Now with Kidd sidelined for who knows how long with a bad back, Prigioni has to take center stage.
When the Knicks play poorly on offense, it’s because the ball stops moving. Few players keep the ball moving in NBA history as well as Jason Kidd, even at this advanced age. Luckily for the Knicks, they have a 35 year old back-up point guard that has won FIBA championships and Olympic bronze medals. One of the leaders on the Argentine national team, he also led the Euro League in assists. There isn’t a situation that is too big for him and he passes almost to a fault.
It’s exactly what the Knicks need. They also don’t lose much on defense, where Prigioni has some of the best hands on the team and has the size to deal with bigger guards. He isn’t fast enough to stay in front of some the league’s quicker point guards, but his veteran savvy helps him mitigate that deficiency. He isn’t without his faults, as more aggressive and fast defenders can sometimes give his handle some trouble. He isn’t the best shooter either. But there are few, if any, NBA teams that boast someone with those skills and resume as their third point guard.
When the Knicks roster was put together this offseason, it was universally criticized for being too old. Glen Grunwald wisely provided extra depth where age was a problem, center and point guard. The Prigioni signing went under the radar but now he will prove invaluable with Jason Kidd hurt. Give Grunwald credit for finding as many quality players as possible to fill the roster with, whether they were going to be rotation mainstays or not.
Pablo Prigioni gives the Knicks the luxury to tell Jason Kidd to take as much time as he needs to get back from his injury. Prigioni should be able to limit the drop-off until Kidd is back healthy again and I get the feeling that the Garden might have a new fan favorite very soon.
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– Carmelo Anthony is in the middle of one of his special streaks offensively, but he needs to be careful not to fall in love with his jump shot, and keep getting shots close to the basket. Whether it is on drives to the basket or post-ups, Carmelo is his most efficient in the paint. He must also not allow his hot streak to keep him from passing out double teams and other similar situations. With all that said, he has been great this season and he has to keep it up.
– J.R. Smith is going through the worst stretch of his career. His decision against the Nets to forgo a layup to shoot a three on a fast break made me want to throw my remote control through my television. Fortunately for the Knicks, he is still playing hard on defense and rebounding the basketball.
– Rasheed Wallace either needs to chill with the threes or start hitting them more often. He should be in the post more often than not.
– It’s pretty clear Marcus Camby is going to have to earn his way onto the floor. The Knicks have a lot of talented players and unless Camby produces he is not going to play major minutes.
– Looks like Steve Novak has his shooting touch back, huh?
Knicks fans — Can Prigioni fill the void left by Jason Kidd? Sound off below…