Amar'e Stoudemire Returning as 6th Man Is Only Option for NY Knicks

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Amar'e Stoudemire Returning as 6th Man Is Only Option for NY Knicks
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

One of the most devastating injuries of the young 2012-13 regular season came as the New York Knicks lost starting power forward Amar'e Stoudemire to debridement surgery on his left knee (via ESPN New York). As a result, STAT has been projected to miss 6-to-8 weeks of action.

Once Stoudemire returns, placing him as the sixth man is the only option for the New York Knicks.

Per a report via Marc Berman of The New York Daily News, Stoudemire's future in the rotation is unclear. Head coach Mike Woodson has not yet made a decision on whether or not Stoudemire will return to the starting lineup.

“I’m going to address that when we get to that point,’’ Woodson said at New Orleans Arena. “Right now I’m just taking it a day at a time and work the guys we have in uniform.’’

“Is it an overall losing record with me as a head coach?,’’ Woodson said. “ I can’t think about what happened before I took over. As a coach, I feel good about both of them playing on the floor at the same time. That’s not going to change.’’

As for those concerned with Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony's inability to win games while playing together, fear not. Despite posting a record of 31-39 when in the starting lineup together, the duo is 8-2 under the watch of Woodson.

Something that the Knicks' head coach is well-aware of.

“Is it an overall losing record with me as a head coach?,’’ Woodson said. “ I can’t think about what happened before I took over. As a coach, I feel good about both of them playing on the floor at the same time. That’s not going to change.’’

This confidence is welcomed in New York. But is it warranted?

Even if the Knicks are able to utilize STAT and 'Melo simultaneously, there are few ways to work Stoudemire back into the starting lineup. The Knicks are flourishing on both ends with their current rotation, which is based off of 'Melo playing the 4.

So where does Amar'e fit?

 

Carmelo Best at Power Forward

At small forward, Carmelo Anthony is one of the best individual players in the NBA. At power forward, however, 'Melo is not only an elite player, but he is playing efficient basketball and stretching the floor in ways that most 4's cannot.

This has opened more shooting lanes for the Knicks, who have converted 39.5 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. A number that ranks them fourth in the NBA.

A number that comes by virtue of the mismatches 'Melo creates.

Should an opponent place their power forward on 'Melo, there is a significant athletic advantage when Anthony stretches his game from the perimeter. If a team places their small forward on Anthony, that leaves sharpshooters such as Steve Novak to be covered by a power forward.

So why make a change?

Although swapping 'Melo with Ronnie Brewer at small forward could be viewed as an upgrade, there is a reason their scoring defense ranks first in the NBA. The perimeter is run by duel facilitators in Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, with Brewer providing the D.

Swap in J.R. Smith and the eventual return of Iman Shumpert and you have yourself a game-changing perimeter unit. To move 'Melo back to the 3, however, would be a neutralization of their current advantages.

Amar'e Stoudemire is a legitimate NBA superstar. STAT must adjust to this current unit before maximizing said abilities.

 

Previous Success at Center

Prior to Carmelo Anthony's arrival in New York City, the Knicks ran a rotation which saw Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari man the forward positions. This set the stage for Amar'e Stoudemire to fill in at center.

A position which he mastered in coach Mike D'Antoni's system.

Prior to Anthony's arrival, Stoudemire had posted season averages of 25.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. Since Anthony has joined the Knicks, however, Stoudemire is averaging just 19.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 0.8 steals.

One of the main reasons for this drastic dip in production is Stoudemire's move back to power forward while 'Melo mans the perimeter. So why not start him at the 5?

 

Won't Start over Chandler

You want an answer to that question? Here are two words to provide you with just that.

Tyson Chandler.

Chandler is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. He had begun to transform the Knicks into a defensive-minded team well before head coach Mike Woodson arrived, which suggests this period of defensive brilliance is not a fluke.

Keep in mind, the Knicks have played 32 games under coach Woodson. In that time, Chandler has anchored a defense that is allowing just 91.3 points per game.

With all due respect to Stoudemire, he simply cannot provide the same for this defense. For that reason, the option of starting him at center has been nullified

A role as sixth man appears to be the only spot for STAT. A role he would fill to perfection.

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