New York Knicks Must Use Stoudemire as 6th Man to Make Melo/Amar'e Pairing Work
The New York Knicks are set to kick off their first truly promising season in what seems like years, and stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are set to be the two men who lead the offense. In coach Mike Woodson's isolation "who's my guy" approach, both men should be more than capable of putting a lot of points on the board and leading the team to a great number of victories.
However, though I'm as excited for next season as much as the next Knicks fan, keeping Stoudemire in the starting lineup is a recipe for disaster. In order to ensure team success, J.R. Smith must be moved into the starting lineup to play small forward, Anthony must move to power forward and Stoudemire must come off the bench as the sixth man.
There are many reasons as to why Stoudemire should be the sixth man, the first being that Woodson runs a defensive system. I love the man known as "Stat," but he doesn't play nearly enough consistent D for someone 6'11", 260 pounds. Yes, he can drive the lane for a dunk and pull down his fair share of rebounds, but he isn't one to go into overdrive and crash the boards on defense, at least not on a regular basis.
That isn't to say that Anthony is a defensive wizard. Like his teammate, he too is more of a scorer. Yet, unlike Stoudemire, Anthony is definitely more willing to stand and bang under the basket as well as drive the ball on offense. Stoudemire, despite having the size of a power forward, is most comfortable taking a mid-range jumper. In Woodson's system, that just won't do.
On top of that, it's not as though losing Stoudemire's presence in the starting lineup would hurt the team immensely. Smith is more than capable of playing small forward and does some of his best work on the wing. If he can't play the position well, Woodson could just move him to shooting guard until Iman Shumpert comes back and have Ronnie Brewer play small forward as a defensive pest.
More importantly, both Anthony and Stoudemire are used to being the top dogs on offense. I understand that pairing them together last year worked when Woodson took over, but look at it this way. A new season is upon us and given how much potential the Knicks have, chances are that one player is going to want sole credit for being the one to lead the team to glory. By having two guys in the unit who are capable of just that, it creates a recipe that results in a team chemistry explosion, known to laymen as a disaster.
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The best part about moving Stoudemire to the sixth man slot, however, is that his numbers could very well remain what we've grown used to seeing from him. Woodson's system allows for everyone to contribute, and even in a bench role Stoudemire could easily average double figures. Take a look at J.R. Smith. In Woodson's 24 games as coach last year, the sharpshooter scored in the single digits just five times.
That being said, there is no reason to believe that using Amare Stoudemire as a sixth man would lead to a tremendous drop in his production. He would still get plenty of minutes and opportunities to put points on the board and be a valuable member of the team. On top of that, the Knicks can terminate his contract at the end of the season.
Thus, assuming Stoudemire wants to stay in New York, wouldn't it be a smarter move to have him come off the bench and put up great numbers instead of leaving him in the starting lineup and risk accumulating stats that are simply good or above average?
Should Amar'e Stoudemire be the Knicks' 6th man?
No matter how you look at it, this is a decision that is definitely worth thinking over, especially for Coach Woodson. He's being paid a lot of money to field a winning team and has the tools to do just that. Yet, in trusting the streaky Stoudemire to be a starter when it's already clear that Anthony is the more consistent player, it will be interesting to see just what the All-Star big man's role will be going forward, be it as a starter or off the bench.
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