Mychel Thompson- You've heard a ton about the kid here and this is the perfect opportunity to see where his development is at. The Knicks are in need of help at the wing in terms of offensive production and Thompson can slide in and be a pleasant surprise with his smooth jumper and ability to find seams in the defense. He's got an NBA frame at 6'7 215 and shot 41% from three for Erie last season. Is he ready to contribute?
Thompson struggled with the pace of the game off the bat and never adjusted to get himself into a rhythm. He shots were quick and he never looked comfortable. Woodson sensed this and pulled him early in his rotations. Not surprising considering the pressure he must have felt with an opportunity, but no reason to give up on him yet. He needs to get comfortable with the speed of the game fast though.
Offensive Sets- Mike Woodson has talked about a combination of things offensively including keeping some sets that Mike D'Antoni ran along with some post entry looks. Expect to see some Melo at the 4 in the pick and roll surrounded by shooters with space, a D'Antoni staple, along with posting Melo at the block and trying to incorporate Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak in spot shooting situations off double teams.
Some really good stuff, especially in the first quarter featuring plenty of space and ball movement. They ran a double stack screens to free J.R. on the left mid post for a pretty basket. Expect some old-school wrinkles to free spot shooters that's a Larry Brown staple.
Defensive Rotations- You've heard me scream about it for years but I don't want to see any switching on screens tonight. Play your man straight up and fight through screens. If they run a successful set with some ball movement I want to see aggressive close outs produced by proper rotations.
I thought the defense was very bad. Forget the 18-0 run in the second quarter, I'm saying from a rotation and screens perspective. Kurt Thomas was caught past the 3 point line hedging on a screen and couldn't communicate help. Prigioni missed several assignments and Novak needs to do a much better job rebounding moving forward. At 6'9 only 2 defensive rebounds while playing a ton of minutes at the 3/4 is unacceptable.
Back Court Production- Specifically on offense, specifically made shots from 18-21 feet. They need to space the court if they are going to be post-heavy and the only way to achieve this is by skip passes, extra passing and catch and makes from the perimeter.
After a slow start Prigioni was terrific, especially off the ball. Obviously, the Knicks hit 18 threes but they did a great job as a group getting to the stripe 12 times making 10. I'm ecstatic to see that Prigioni is a spot-shooting threat and not just a one-dimensional pick and roll Euro guard.