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Bring back this play: Mike Woodson’s scissor cuts

Split action from the top of the key

NBA: Preseason-Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This is the second edition of the “Bring back this play” series — if you’d like to get caught up, check out part 1: “Jeff Hornacek’s post curl.”

Ten-trillion-zillion rosters ago the Knicks put together a 54-win season with Mike Woodson as their head coach. They set a league record for most three-pointers made by a team as well as the record for most geezers per 5-man-unit. It was a boisterous bunch, and we all had lots of fun with them. Shift back to now, the only player remaining is everyone’s favorite dad, Carmelo Anthony.

Surprisingly, that crew played a slothful 89.8 pace, good for 26th in the league. This bodes well for the idea that they can play lots of half court basketball and still let it fly. Their 111.1 Offensive Rating (3rd) might not be replicable but taking the majority of your shots near the rim and beyond the arc is a perfectly reasonable goal that Jeff Hornacek will more than likely push for. In 2012-13 the Knicks took better than one-third of their shots from downtown and connected on .376% of them.

That irregular year New York finished 4th in avoiding turnovers. They were keeping the lid on their pillbox so secure that Coach Woody had to run plenty of laps as a result of their effort. Scarcely turning the ball over helps you get more shot attempts and more shot attempts means more swish. Everyone wants more swish.

Much will be made of Derrick Rose’s inabilities because of his twisted injury history. Which speaks little to the truth that Rose will easily be New York’s best penetrator since Rod Strickland. Another perceived stain on the Knicks’ jersey is Carmelo Anthony’s “ball-stopper” tag. While Melo likes to hokey-poke into the play and jab-step his defender off their spot, he is not an unselfish player when his teammates are making plays.

One way to involve Melo in the play while trying to get Derrick Rose careening downhill could be Mike Woodson’s scissor cuts play. Effectively what you have is split cuts around a player who catches the ball at or near the top of the key. The first player fades off the pick for a wing jumper, the second player slides around looking to get to the rim or to dish to the rolling big man. The other two players space to the corners. First let’s see a basic diagram of it, then lets look at one of those wonderful compilations of the play and it’s various outcomes and interplays.

Kind of like a little three-man weave.

As you can see the parts are relatively interchangeable. For several possessions the Knicks pinned Jason Kidd at the top. Having Kristaps Porzingis as that fulcrum (remember that those 2012-13 Knicks played smaller lineups) would pull the biggest defender way out of their comfort zone and far too high to catch a lightning bug like Rose or a water bug like Brandon Jennings.

This play is also dangerous because you can initiate it before crossing half court, which the last few years Knick teams, with their two \-guard front, have had trouble doing. Getting quick hitters such as this will be paramount to ramping up the tempo. If you can get capable shooting from the corner, particularly the one that shares the driving lane, there’s plenty of space to create for scores and to draw fouls. This play didn’t draw as much attention as the vaunted triple pick play, but I always felt like it’s basic action and clear spacing was prone to work more than once a game. Which is good. Which is gooooood!