Is Pablo Prigioni Really the Answer to NY Knicks' Point Guard Problems?

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2014

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) talks to teammate Pablo Prigioni (9), of Argentina, during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, in New York.  Miami won 106-91.  (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

The New York Knicks have had plenty of problems this season, but more than anything else, their lack of a decent point guard has led to their woeful record.

Raymond Felton is quite possibly the worst starting point guard in the entire league, disappearing completely on defense and failing to run the team effectively on offense.

As a result, the Knicks have an offense that's unbearable to watch outside of Carmelo Anthony and a defensive unit that has no chance to succeed with opposing 1's getting into the paint with ease.

The Knicks know for sure know that Felton isn't the man for the starting role.
The Knicks know for sure know that Felton isn't the man for the starting role.Elsa/Getty Images

Having seen both Felton and Beno Udrih in starting roles this season, it's become clear that neither is the answer, and unless they defy all odds and find an upgrade at the deadline, New York's only real option is to give Pablo Prigioni a shot as the starter.

Prigioni, of course, starts every now and then alongside Felton, but that doesn't fix anythingprimarily because Felton gets a solid chunk of the ball-handling and is still there to be a liability on defense.

Starting Prigioni alone at point guard, ideally sharing the backcourt with Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr., could help solve some of the Knicks' problems.

First and foremost, Prigioni is a better defender than Felton. Admittedly, that's not much of an achievement, but Prigioni is surprisingly good at staying in front of his man for an unathletic 36-year-old and is a pest who causes visible trouble to opposing guards.

He also seems much more willing to run the offense. Instead of allowing the team to fall into the trap of watching Melo go to work in isolation, Prigioni's experience and floor-general mentality will ensure that the Knicks at least attempt to run their sets and get more players involved.

Considering his age, there's only so much Prigioni can do for New York, but his strong points do cover two of the team's biggest weaknesses from the first half. He may not be able to penetrate or run the fast break like a younger point guard, but frankly, Felton wasn't too great in those areas, either.

Prigioni is by no means the ideal starter for the Knicks' situation, but he definitely ranks first amongst their realistic optionsunless a trade can be worked out. The problem is that the Knicks lack tradeable assets outside of Shumpert and future draft picks.

If nothing else, Woodson needs to start Prigioni to shed the stubborn tag he's been labelled with.
If nothing else, Woodson needs to start Prigioni to shed the stubborn tag he's been labelled with.Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The market for Shumpert is unlikely to be very big right now, with the guard having declined steadily since his rookie season and having gone through two knee surgeries early in his career, so trading even more draft picks is unthinkable at this point.

Change clearly needs to happen, though, and the least Mike Woodson can do to try to save his job is give Prigioni a chance as the starter. At the very least, it will get New York playing better basketball, even if it won't turn it back into the 54-win outfit we saw in 2012-13.

An unwillingness to change has been Woodson's downfall many times in the past, but this timemore than everthere's no reason to stick with the status quo. There's no real downside to moving Felton to the bench other than angering him, which, if anything, could light a fire under him.

It's a pain to hear for Knicks fans, but unfortunately the answer at point guard isn't on the roster right now and won't be easily attainable at the trade deadline, either. Starting Prigioni makes the most sense considering the limited options, but it won't save the season.