Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Even though the Knicks beat the Hornets on Sunday afternoon, they were once again "slow getting out of the box defensively," as Mike Woodson put it after the game. In fact, they haven't won the first quarter in each of their past seven losses, dating back to Dec. 21 against the Bulls.
They've been lacking two things at the jump: deep-drive penetration offensively and defensive pressure from the perimeter, especially guarding pick and rolls.
It all starts at point guard. While Kidd is as smart as they come, Woodson admitted on Saturday that his steady extended minutes are "not healthy for him." Kidd's 39-year-old legs haven't been able to keep up with the abundance of younger, opposing point guards in the NBA. And on offense, he has been a step slow attacking, resorting to making alley-oop dishes to Tyson Chandler just inside the arc, not at closer range to help the center get easier looks. A couple of times on Sunday, those passes were broken up because Kidd wasn't able to collapse the defense that well.
Overall, at this point in his career, Kidd is better suited at two guard, so he can focus on his 3-point shooting ability (42.3 percent) and not have to dribble as much as a facilitator.
Now with a couple of games before Felton returns, should Woodson possibly consider calling up Prigioni to the starting five? It would relieve some weight off Kidd's shoulders at the start of games, and it might help the Knicks get off to better first quarters.
Prigioni's toughness could establish a better tone for the team on both ends of the floor. In the the second quarter on Sunday when he was the point guard, his full-court pressure rattled the Hornets, and he was quicker and more aggressive than Kidd off screens and penetrating open lanes. His playmaking enabled Carmelo Anthony, for example, to get more open jump shots and his defense gave Prigioni's teammates momentum to score in transition.
Do you think Prigioni should start at point guard looking ahead? Leave us your comments below.
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