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The popular debate: Can Melo and STAT play together?
It's the burning question on every NBA fan's mind: What should the Knicks do with Amar'e Stoudemire?
Without STAT, the team's offense is looking as strong as it has in decades. It's a system based around ball movement and sharing, mainly featuring Carmelo Anthony. What's most important is that Anthony appears to be playing the best basketball of his career.
Rarely does he hold the ball and kill the offense's momentum, but instead he flings the ball to a teammate when no shot is available to him, triggering a sequence of crisp Knicks' passes usually ending in an open look.
'Melo is utilizing post-ups more than he ever has, and it's working. His 26.8 points per game lead the NBA. Anthony has displayed a vastly improved sense of awareness down low this year. When doubled, Carmelo knows exactly how and where to pass out of the post. When being guarded by a single defender, he's taking the ball to the hole with incredible efficiency.
Anthony is great at what he does—score the basketball. 'Melo's methods, however, usually require an entire side of the halfcourt, which leads to the question begging to be asked: Where does Amar'e fit in?
With the way the offense is clicking, it would be unwise to implant Stoudemire into the starting five immediately upon recovery. A more reasonable strategy would be to let Amar'e work with the second team—where his talents would be much better suited.
Amar'e would be working with premier passers and pick-and-roll aficionados, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. He would be a primary scoring option, similar to his role on the 2010-11 Knicks, when the city was ready to crown him MVP that January. He could even play the 5 and have the entire post to himself, if need be.
Anthony and the rest of the first team would still be able to run their sets, and most importantly let 'Melo be 'Melo.
The one dilemma Mike Woodson would face is: How would he manage fourth quarters? Clearly, Anthony and the first team would be the group to finish close games, but you'd certainly want Stoudemire on the floor in crunch time as well.
Woody will need to ensure Anthony and Stoudemire can coexist in the same offense, and in one game together this preseason, we've some plays that should work to perfection.
Woodson's management of the Melo-STAT situation will have a direct impact on their chances this season.