Mike Woodson has shortened his rotation from 12 -- at the start of the season -- to usually nine players these days. And that has affected the Knicks' defensive balance. While the starting five has looked sharper making stops -- they outscored the Warriors 27-18 in the first quarter, thanks to Chandler and Iman Shumpert's defense -- the bench has been exposed.
"Their second unit scares no one," a veteran NBA scout told ESPNNewYork.com. "I'm not sure why they didn't make a trade."
Ok, Zwerling goes on to note that the Knicks' worst defensive lineup includes Prigioni, J.R., Novak, Melo and Amar'e, for pretty obvious reasons. They were beat backdoor for an easy layup in the time it took me to finish typing that. It also hasn't been that impressive a group on the offensive end of the floor, but I still think this "veteran" scout as they say is being overly and seemingly intentionally harsh. There aren't that many clubs that boast players of the caliber of J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire coming off the bench, and while that's somewhat an illusion since both could easily be starting and aren't for somewhat cosmetic reasons, I think it still underrates the Knicks' depth a bit. Which isn't to say the Knicks' bench is stacked, it isn't, but there aren't that many teams boasting a full roster of fully capable players either.
I guess more problematic with this particular take is that it seems to point a finger at Woodson for shortening the rotation, while equally blasting the available players as "scaring no one," two things that seem a little incompatible to this observer.
That being said, there's no doubt they have to figure out a way to stabilize the defense when Tyson Chandler is off the floor. We noted yesterday the way in which Woodson is juggling Chandler's minutes to try and limit the effects of this, but until they are able to get anything from guys like Martin and Camby it's probably going to be a problem.