Amar'e Stoudemire's knee injury could be a blessing in disguise, opening up a new look for the Knicks with endless long-term possibilities.
In fact, the case could be made that in today’s NBA, Carmelo Anthony is more effective at that position than Stoudemire, who is not expected to be available for the Nov. 1 season opener due to a knee injury.
Isola then supplies a quote from Knicks coach Mike Woodson:
“It’s kind of a nightmare for a lot of (power forwards) in this league because he’s capable of doing so much offensively. He can come off screens, can run pick-and-rolls, isolation and post. There’s a variety of things he can do (against) bigger fours that have to guard him."
Anthony has some experience at the four. He played there in Monday night's preseason game against the 76ers, racking up 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
In short, he's a matchup nightmare. At 6'8'', Melo plays a small 4, but his athleticism overcomes any weaknesses in that department. Offensively, he's more advanced skill-wise than any other power forward in the NBA. That also makes him almost unguardable in man-to-man situations, save the league's elite defenders.
Anthony can use his perimeter skills to pull an interior player away from the hoop. Not only does this open things up for Tyson Chandler in the paint, but it leaves room for guards to back-cut to the hoop with less traffic in the way.
Moving 'Melo to the 4 also gives Steve Novak more potential minutes. Novak averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season, and his skill-set is limited, but his 47-percent clip from three-point land demands attention.
The other option at small forward besides Novak could be Ronnie Brewer as well. Brewer isn't a gifted offensive player, but giving him more minutes would increase New York's team defense. That's something that the team has struggled with in recent years.
This segment from Isola's report is also worth noting:
The severity of Stoudemire’s injury is unknown. The Knicks are cautiously optimistic that Stoudemire, who was found to have a popliteal cyst behind his left knee, will only be sidelined two to three weeks. Stoudemire has a long history of breaking down but he also has a reputation for being a quick healer.
The problem, however, is that the cyst was found on the same knee that required microfracture surgery five years ago.
Moving Anthony to power forward on a full-time basis isn't a logical scenario, but, given Stoudemire's health, it's not a bad idea to give him an extended look there. Anthony states in the report that "I don’t have no problem. I’ve played it last year." He appears comfortable with the idea, which is the most important part.
Different rotations will only make the Knicks better in the long run. Even if Stoudemire comes back, and appears to be full strength, playing Anthony at power forward intermittently is a good idea. The matchup issues he creates won't go away, and cutting Stoudemire's minutes down here and there—for self-preservation's sake—might not be a bad idea.
The Knicks are fixing to contend in the Eastern Conference this season, and they are in a good position. With one of the league's best players, and another with that potential in Stoudemire, they have more than many teams do.
Playing Anthony at power forward throughout the season makes the team more diverse, dangerous and defensive-minded. None of which will hurt the Knicks in the long run.
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