Will Amar'e Stoudemire Lose Playing Time to Marcus Camby for New York Knicks?
A year after having one of the best all-around seasons of his career and almost single-handedly bringing the New York Knicks back to NBA relevancy, Amar'e Stoudemire had easily his worst campaign since his rookie year, besides the 2005-06 season where he appeared in just three contests.
The numbers tell part of the story: He averaged 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 blocks per game in the 2010-2011 season compared to 17.5 points, 7.8 boards, 1.1 dimes and just a block per contest last year.
Numbers told part of the story, but Stoudemire simply looked a step slow out on the court. The explosiveness that made him so tough to defend appeared largely gone, and he struggled even more than usual to make an impact on the glass and keep opposing big men in front of him.
Despite being 38 years old, Camby still has plenty of good basketball to play, which he proved last season averaging 4.9 points, nine rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game for both the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets.
With Camby aboard and Stoudemire looking like a shell of his former self, the question has to be asked: Will Stat see some of his floor time go to the former Defensive Player of the Year?
Obviously Camby's natural position is center, but Tyson Chandler is simply too valuable to see long stretches off the floor, and Camby is still too valuable to be playing in a 10 to 15 minutes per game role.
Last season in the three games Chandler missed, the Knicks allowed 118 points to San Antonio, 119 points to Milwaukee and 112 to Atlanta. He is the quarterback defensively and anchors the paint as well as any big man in the league.
New York's 18-6 late season charge under Woodson was due largely to their defense, and commitment to that end of the floor will be essential to the team's success next season.
Stoudemire is a poor post defender who is not as physical as his strong frame would seem to allow him to be, and he often makes mental lapses or careless errors on the defensive end of the court.
In addition, he's never been the kind of dynamic shot blocker that someone with his athleticism and leaping ability should be.
Though Camby primarily plays center, he is capable of logging time at power forward, and it would not be surprising to see him play some time at the 4 in Stoudemire's stead. Both players are 6'11" and while Stoudemire is quicker on his feet, Camby is not your typical lumbering NBA big.
He is not a great scorer, but Camby can occasionally hit a midrange jumper, albeit not as effectively as Stoudemire. The area where he contributes the most on offense is really in his passing.
Camby is one of the league's best passing big men, he has great court vision and is a threat as a playmaker out of the post. With the departure of Jeremy Lin, New York could use another strong passer, and while Camby's 1.8 assists per game is not staggering, it belies his abilities both on outlet passes and in the half-court offense.
Camby is not a great post scorer, but he can finish at the rim, has a decent set of hands and most importantly, can still run the floor well.
Stoudemire's minutes at center will also likely decrease because of Camby. He succeeded playing the 5 position because of his quickness, but that looks to be less of a factor—and with Camby's defensive prowess, he could see some of that time. Carmelo Anthony thrived last season playing the power forward position with his shooting ability, and should spend a decent amount of time at the 4 alongside Camby.
Perhaps most importantly though, Camby does not need to shoot the ball to make an impact the way Stoudemire does.
The Knicks offense is clearly centered around Anthony, and Stoudemire often looked out of sorts when he wouldn't get the number of touches and shots that he felt he needed. Camby is a player who can impact a game without taking a single shot by attacking the boards and playing tight defense.
Though the league has become less size-oriented, the mobility of Camby and Chandler makes it possible that Woodson could play the two together. They are both terrific rebounders and would be able to slow a game down, create second chance opportunities and most importantly, protect the basket and provide excellent help defense.
Amar'e Stoudemire is still a six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA team member, he is New York's second option on offense and will not see his minutes dip below 30 per game, but do not be shocked if you see Camby spring up off the bench when he comes out of the game fairly often next season.
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