Mike Woodson proved two main things during the final 29 games (regular season and playoffs) he coached the Knicks: He can teach defense and enhance the playmaking ability of an All-Star swingman.
Woodson did it in Atlanta with Joe Johnson and he did it in New York with Carmelo Anthony, using him less as a point-forward (Mike D'Antoni's agenda), but more as a scorer in his sweet spots -- the post and midrange areas.
But while Anthony went off in the final month of the season, averaging 29.1 points per game while shooting 49.1 percent from the field, the Knicks' offense at times dried up like a prune. The ball stayed on one side of the court too much (where Melo was), limiting additional penetration and ball movement.
Woodson is viewed by NBA scouts as a traditional offensive coach who likes to heavily work through the strengths of his best player, which in this case is Anthony. That means many clear-out situations.
But as witnessed from Oklahoma City Thunder's success this postseason, getting to the ultimate stage and winning takes all five players executing together, where even the game comes naturally to the team's best player. Watching Kevin Durant play Tuesday night, many of his scoring opportunities came within the flow of the offense. On the other hand, the Heat broke down, and have before, because they tend to play too much hero, one-on-one ball down the stretch in games.
The predictablity of Anthony isolating mostly alone on one side won't cut it night in and night out for the Knicks next season. While he's one of the three best scorers in the league, he's not LeBron James, who can pass like Magic Johnson. The Knicks' offensive structure will need to be more complex than that, especially with the productive pieces surrounding Melo: Jeremy Lin, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and so on.
On paper, as of now, the Knicks have a deep enough roster to compete for home court in next year's postseason, but they're going to need much better offensive execution in 2012-13. Defensively, Woodson has it covered. But just like he was brought in as a defensive assistant last year, he could use the help of a lead offensive assistant this year.
While Jim Todd and Darrell Walker are expected to return, and would join Herb Williams and Kenny Atkinson on the bench, there is no NBA rule that limits the amount of assistants a team can have.
In the next blog, I'll name five available candidates who should be considered to be the Knicks' lead offensive assistant coach.
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