NY Knicks: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for Carmelo and Stoudemire Pairing

Thomas AttalCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21:  Amare Stoudemire #1 , and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks talk during their pre season game  against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden on December 21, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Through the first 26 games of the 2012-2013 NBA season, the New York Knicks have started 19-7 and are in first place in the Eastern Conference. If you had told a Knicks fan that sentence would be fact six months ago, you would likely have ended up with a black eye or two. 

The unlikelihood of New York's success doesn't change the fact that it is happening, though.

Perhaps chief among the reasons for this fast start has been the performance of Carmelo Anthony. Melo has not only put up the second most points in the league, but he has also shown a defensive intensity that had previously been lacking from his game.

A 19-7 start isn't enough to stop New York fans from worrying, though.

Forty years without a title keeps fans looking for what might go wrong, and right now that thing is Amar'e Stoudemire. The power forward has missed the entire season since getting surgery on his left knee.

According to Si.com , Stoudemire could return as soon the Christmas day game against the Los Angeles Lakers. For some observers, that means the rich will get richer. For others, it means throwing a wrench into the machinery that has been the play of Melo.

 

If Stoudemire Comes Off the Bench

Worst-case scenario

Absolutely everything the Knicks have built over the past seven weeks goes to waste, and every fan's worst nightmare comes true. When Stoudemire is on the court, he gets in the way and takes touches away from Melo. Even when he's on the bench, the flow of the offense has been too interrupted to resume.

His emergence as a sixth man also frustrates J.R. Smith, who goes back to shooting his troubles away.

This causes enormous frustration from Carmelo, who sees an MVP-caliber start to the year go down the drain. Stoudemire gets mad that he doesn't get more touches or playing time. The locker room ambiance is ruined, and you're looking at the New York Jets.  

 

Best-case scenario

Coming off the bench, Stoudemire is rarely on the court at the same time as Melo and leads the second team. Stoudemire plays as he did before Melo got to MSG since the pick-and-roll with Felton is working, and Melo continues to polish his MVP application.

Furthermore, Chandler manages to gel with both. With Stoudemire on the court the pair dominate with size, and with Melo on the court three-point shooting leads the way. 

New York rides the depth of their bench to a first-place finish in the East, and having two stars late in games makes the Knicks a very legitimate title contender.  

If Stoudemire Starts 

Worst-case scenario

Well, pretty much the Jets, again. Then again, aren't the Jets pretty much the worst-case scenario to anything? Stoudemire starting crowds the frontcourt and forces Melo to rely too heavily on his jumper.
Stoudemire is forced to rely solely on his moves inside and Chandler becomes obsolete offensively.
All of those things once again forces turmoil in the locker room as the downward spiral is pinned on Stoudemire and Melo being unwilling to work together...annnnddd you have the New York Jets. 
Best-case scenario

To the delight, and somewhat surprise, of New York fans, everything works out. Stoudemire uses his mid-range jumper to pull defenders, which opens up room for Melo inside. He also uses his newly-acquired post moves to draw big men inside at other times so Melo can take advantage of his improved three-point shooting.

Both players have statistical success, which leaves them as kings of the Big Apple. The role players feed off of their leaders' willingness to set their egos aside, and you're looking at a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs.