Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire: Can They Trump LeBron James and Dwyane Wade?
Despite the recent string of complaints coming from Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Mike D'Antoni, fans of the New York Knicks are going to continue cheering for their team to bring in Carmelo Anthony—especially due their team's recent string of poor performances.
And while there is truth to the fact that the Melo-rumors—which have relentlessly swarmed the players—may be partially to blame for the Knicks' recent struggles, the possibility of Anthony teaming up with all-star forward Amar'e Stoudemire is simply too much for the franchise to pass on.
Therefore, the situation can be summed up by the words of team president Donnie Walsh, who said, "We have a lot of younger players that probably haven't been through this [with the trade rumors] before...But they'd better get used to it in New York, because it's going to be there."
So while the Knicks brass continues to pursue trade opportunities for Carmelo, one can't help but consider what a Melo-Amar'e-Knicks squad would be able to accomplish.
First and foremost, if New York was able to acquire Anthony before the February 24 trade deadline, it seems unlikely that such a team could make a serious run at the 2010-11 NBA championship.
They would have very little experience playing alongside one another, and with other teams hitting their stride at that point of the year, the Knicks would probably be overwhelmed by the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat, or maybe even teams like the Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls or Atlanta Hawks.
Will the New York Knicks acquire Carmelo Anthony before the February 24 trade deadline?
Nevertheless, with an offseason to develop some chemistry, the Knicks would certainly be one of the more dangerous squads in the NBA.
Before we can consider how the team would perform next season, we must consider what they would have to give up in a trade for Melo (assuming the Denver Nuggets trade him, rather than letting him walk as a free agent).
The most prominent trade proposal had the Knicks receiving Carmelo, while sending Wilson Chandler to Denver, and Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Additionally, the transaction was to be rounded out by the T-Wolves dealing Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick to the Nuggets.
And while it's been reported that neither New York nor Denver are truly satisfied by this proposal, with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, all of the involved parties will likely become more and more desperate.
Therefore, the teams involved would probably become increasingly willing to accept this proposal, rather than making the deal more elaborate and risky (like the rumor involving a swap of point guards Raymond Felton and Chauncey Billups).
So assuming that the Knicks deal Chandler, Randolph and Curry for Melo, the team would only be losing one rotation player in Chandler, while receiving a perennial All-Star—and one of the NBA's best scorers—at the same position.
Consequently, although it would be tough to say goodbye to Chandler, it's hard to argue that the Knicks would be worse off because of it, since New York would then be able to sport a formidable starting lineup of Felton, Landry Fields, Danilo Gallinari, Carmelo and Stoudemire.
Furthermore, off their bench the Knicks would have standout sophomore combo-guard Toney Douglas, hot-shooting 6'9" forward Shawne Williams, the inconsistent-yet-talented Bill Walker and Kelenna Azubuike, whenever he is prepared to return from his knee injury (he started scrimmaging with the team at the end of January).
And in addition to that, they still have some size on their reserve squad, coming from defensive specialist Ronny Turiaf and Russian rookie Timofey Mozgov (who has been playing very well of late).
So with the only real hole being at the backup point guard position, the Knicks would definitely be a serious contender by 2011-12.
But how would they fare against the Eastern Conference elite?
When discussing the current power structure in the East, we must first focus on the defending Eastern Conference champions, the East-leading Boston Celtics.
Although the Celtics have managed to remain mostly healthy so far this season (aside from Kendrick Perkins), it's not out of the question for them to either be riddled by the injury bug once again or to see their overall level of play regress due to the increasing ages of all-stars Kevin Garnett (34), Paul Pierce (33) and Ray Allen (35).
And even though Boston could still be a title contender in 2011-12, it seems as though the Miami Heat—who are only currently 0.5 games behind the Celtics after their recent loss the them—will be an Eastern Conference power for the foreseeable future, behind their star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
So with the promise of a Melo-and-Stoudemire-led New York franchise, will the 2010s be a repeat of the 1990s, where the Knicks were repeatedly forced to play second-fiddle to a superior team, then played by the Chicago Bulls, and now played by the Heat?
Or instead, will this be like those same 1990s, when New York regularly faced off against Miami in epic playoff battles, often coming out on top?
Well, the answer to this question depends upon a few important factors.
Primary among those is three-point shooting.
Under Mike D'Antoni, the New York Knicks live and die by the three ball.
And even following a trade for Anthony, who shoots about half as many threes as Chandler, that will likely remain the case, at least to some extent.
Consequently, should the Knicks knock down their deep shots, they have the ability to beat anyone.
Therefore, they could even make a run at a title, just as the hot-shooting 2008-09 Orlando Magic did before they ultimately fell short against the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, this reliance on outside shooting makes New York wildly inconsistent, albeit slightly less so than with the inside-outside game of Melo.
And although cold shooting could present a problem, an area which the Heat would seriously look to exploit is the Knicks' defense.
New York would be losing their second-leading shot blocker (Chandler at 1.7 per game) in a trade for Anthony, and although Carmelo has vastly improved on D over the past couple of years, it is still an area where he could use more work.
Yet that is really the least of New York's worries, for as a team, they simply perform poorly on the defensive end, ranking 20th in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
The Heat, on the other hand, excel at defense, as they are currently third in the league in defensive efficiency, and will likely to improve as time goes on.
And while both teams would sport highly explosive, efficient offenses, Miami's clear superiority on D would certainly give them an edge.
Furthermore, when we look at individual matchups, the outlook becomes even murkier for the Knicks.
In the three 2010-11 regular season games between the two squads, Heat forward-center Joel Anthony has done a relatively solid job in containing Stoudemire, holding him to 45.6 percent shooting—well below his season percentage of 53.9.
Moreover, Felton has had trouble to an even greater extent against Miami, scoring just 9.7 points per contest (he averages 17.2), on a miserable 29.0 percent shooting (his season total is 42.4).
And while the presence of Carmelo—who had a fairly decent night in his one matchup (a win) against a LeBron-less Heat team—would certainly alleviate the pressure on Stoudemire and Felton and help them to perform better, their previous struggles are still startling.
On the other hand, the Big Three of Miami has had no trouble scoring on the Knicks, as in the two games which all three participated, they put up totals of 76 and 84 points, both in wins, on a combined 50.4 percent shooting.
Furthermore, in the sole Heat loss to the Knicks, Bosh sat out, but James and Wade still managed to account for 58 points on 45.7 percent shooting.
And yes, the Knicks defensive schemes will certainly change with Anthony playing instead of Chandler, but regardless of that, Miami's impressive offensive showings against New York are a cause for concern.
Could the Anthony-and-Stoudemire-led New York Knicks defeat the Miami Heat in a playoff series?
Consequently, on the whole, things do not look so good for a Melo-and Amar'e-led Knicks team in a matchup with the Heat.
They could certainly beat Miami in a playoff series if their team were to catch fire at the right time, but more times than not, that won't be the case.
So for New York fans, all there is to do is wait and see.
With Melo, the Knicks would continue to climb further and further into respectability, even looking to become a serious title contender.
But to ultimately best the Miami Heat and their Big Three, New York will likely need a big three of their own.
So here's to the Knicks going after a guy like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, individuals rumored to be interested in New York who, in addition to Anthony and Stoudemire, could absolutely help to swing the tide into the Knicks' favor
But until then, all we can do is watch when the Knicks and Heat face off on February 27, shortly after the passing of the trade deadline, in a game which could possibly feature a newly acquired Melo proving me wrong and leading New York to their second consecutive win over Miami.
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