The Knicks, as pointed out by Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal, often start players like James White and Kurt Thomas and then give them very few minutes.
Herring uses a couple different benchmarks – five or fewer minutes, fewer than 16 minutes – but, either way, the Knicks lead the league by a wide margin.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson was asked about the practice:
“By starting them, you’re putting them on a stage to start in an NBA game, and guaranteeing that the player is going to go out and make the most of his minutes,” Woodson said. “Guys like [White] and Chris Copeland, they know they aren’t going to get 30 or 35 minutes, and that it might be only four or five instead. So they have to go all out. And [as a coach], you hope that helps get you off to a good start.”
I have no idea whether this is a sound strategy. But I absolutely love it.
Woodson was criticized in Atlanta for his simplistic Iso-Joe scheme, even though the Hawks had the NBA’s second-best offensive rating in his final season there. The problem was aesthetic more than anything. Fans don’t enjoy watching boring boring basketball.
But this is creative – maybe even innovative – and Woodson should get credit for thinking outside the box in an effort to help his team win more.