GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- After last season's heavy point-guard rotation featuring Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, Mike Bibby, Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis, the Knicks knew they had to find balanced depth at that position in the offseason.
Enter Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni, who are already helping the team establish a consistent identity, from effectively running pick-and-rolls to setting the defensive tempo right when the ball crosses midcourt. In fact, Kidd and Prigioni's two steals each against the Celtics, mostly coming in the fourth quarter, helped the Knicks take the decisive lead.
"You're talking about three guys that know how to run a team," Mike Woodson said after practice on Monday. "The young guys are benefiting from having the veteran guys out there. and if I'm a young player, I'm going to be like a sponge and absorb as much as I can from those veteran guys."
Woodson is allowing the vets to take more control of the team during practices and games.
"They've been great for me from a coaching standpoint because I don't have to scream as much," he said. "These guys know how to run a team, so I can kind of lay back and call a play or two here and there, and let them run the team."
With that said, Woodson is running more pick-and-rolls than usual. Of course, Amar'e Stoudemire hasn't been in the lineup yet, but Woody, who usually favors post-ups and isolations, hasn't shied away from Felton, Kidd and Prigioni's play-making abilities. Even Felton senses that the offense hasn't felt that far off from when Mike D'Antoni was in town.
"It's a little different, but at the same time, there's still a lot of screen-and-rolling -- and I can't complain with that," he said. "That's what I love to do."
While Stoudemire observed the first two preseason games, it made him further realize that the depth and experience at point guard -- which the team didn't have last season -- is going to make things much easier. While Felton and Kidd will get the attention, he said opponents shouldn't sleep on Prigioni.
"Pablo, a lot of people are not familiar with his game, but he's great at passing the ball," STAT said. "He's a great, great distributor -- so is Jason and Raymond."
Stoudemire returned to practice on Monday and renewed his pick-and-roll game with Felton, which they perfected during the 2010-11 season. Now, both of them are focused on using the next couple weeks of training camp to help the team build a flow in the offense and get sharper with defensive rotations, while obviously avoiding injury.
"Me and Amare pretty much have our own chemistry, so just to get out there with the other guys, it's kind of helped me out," Felton said. "I've got a good chemistry with Carmelo and as well with Tyson, so that's something that's big. So to add Amar'e to that, it's only going to be better for us."
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