Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire vs. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade: Who Wins?
Looks like the Miami Heat won't be alone as a superstar laden team.
With the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks finally reaching a deal that sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, as well as a few other players, to the Knicks for Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton, and three draft picks to Denver, the Eastern Conference suddenly has another team to add to an already lengthy list of NBA Finals contenders. Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Orlando all suddenly have company at the top with the Knicks becoming immediate contenders.
Prior to joining New York, Anthony was experiencing a drop off from last season's career numbers. His 25 points per game on 45 percent shooting is nothing to look down upon, but considering he is coming off of a season where he was averaging a near career high 28 points, one wonders how much of an impact Carmelo will have on his new team. Anthony will join another one of the most prolific and pure scorers in the league in Amare Stoudemire as the duo forms one of the strongest and dangerous front courts in the league.
Joining Anthony in the deal was point guard Chauncey Billups and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer. Despite being 34 years old, Billups continues to contribute more than he had when he was in 20's. In fact, as a 33 year old last season Chauncey averaged a career high 20 points per game while taking 13 shots per contest.
Who ya got?
However, he has seen his assists total drop off as of late and hasn't registered more than six assists per game over the past two seasons. The five assists per he is contributing this season is his lowest since the 2002-'03 campaign.
Former Wolves forward Corey Brewer has become a necessity for the Knicks now that the team's roster has been completely depleted of quality role players outside of Landry Fields. Brewer had a career season last year when he averaged 13 points per game in only his third year, but had since seen his role on the team decrease due to the acquisition of fellow small forward Michael Beasley. He was averaging nine points per game on a dismal 38 percent from the field, hitting only 26 percent of his three-point shots.
With Anthony and Billups now on the team, the starting lineup would have Chauncey running the point, Fields at shooting guard, 'Melo at small forward, Amare at power forward, and Ronny Turiaf at center.
The sixth man would either be Toney Douglas or Corey Brewer with an extreme drop off in talent coming after that. Unless Roger Mason can become the player he was two seasons ago or Shawne Williams continues to be a threat from deep, the Knicks are in some serious trouble as far as bench production goes.
Remind you of any other team? Perhaps one a little farther South?
The New York Knicks are set to face similar problems to those of the Miami Heat. The Heat saw most of their investment go into acquiring the big three, but were able to save up some money for a few quality players. They were able to acquire sharp shooter Mike Miller, re-sign James Jones, and re-sign Udonis Haslem, who elected to take a pay cut rather than leave for more money elsewhere.
The Heat's bench has yet to be at full strength as Miller suffered a preseason injury that kept him out until December and is still affecting his game. Udonis Haslem injured his foot in November and is set to return in March.
The depletion of the bench has greatly affected the Heat, as they have been forced to look towards the likes of Jones, Eddie House, and Erick Dampier for some sort of production. However, it's still fair to say that the Heat's bench will be quality when actually at full strength.
Aside from their obvious struggles at the point guard and center, one of the Heat's main problems was chemistry. While there was a fair share of balance between scoring, rebounding, and defense among the big three, it was difficult in the first few weeks of the season for any sort of chemistry and cohesion to form.
Chris Bosh had trouble getting into the flow of the offense while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade struggled playing off the ball. Even now, the offense can find itself stagnant for a few stretches.
It's obvious that scoring won't come as a problem for Amar'e, Anthony, or any player on the Knicks for that matter, considering that they already have an extremely capable Chauncey Billups dictating the offense.
An obvious problem will be the teams defense aside from Billups. Fields and Turiaf are both quality defenders, but Stoudemire and Anthony have both had their struggles. They're the type of opponents that James and Bosh would feast off of when given the chance.
The trio of Billups, Anthony, and Stoudemire facing off against Wade, James, and Bosh is a match-up only thought capable of happening in an All-Star game or in an NBA lovers dream.
The entertainment value will come from these six players, but when it comes down to it, the role players will determine who wins this match-up. We won't be able to determine how each team's bench compares this year unless they have a match-up in the post season.
Assuming both benches are healthy, The Heat have a few three-point shooters in Miller, House, and Jones. The Knicks can match that with Billups, Williams, and Mason (if he becomes the same player from two seasons ago).
As far as size, the Knicks lost a huge asset in Mozgov and now must look towards Turiaf and Stoudemire for presence in the middle. The Heat aren't much better with two 35-year-olds in Erick Dampier and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, along with Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem.
Luckily for the Heat, Joel has been recognized as the Amar'e stopper. In three meetings, Joel has mostly limited Stoudemire to a jump shooter.
As far as the role players go, the advantage goes to Miami. There aren't any impact players riding the pine for the Knicks that could come in for Anthony or Stoudemire to give the team a jump start on offense or defense. Bill Walker and Toney Douglas can provide some help, but they are hardly the players you want to rely on when your two superstars aren't in the game.
There is one fact that we have to face when it comes to these two teams. The Heat's big three are still far superior, even with the Knicks having a true point guard in Billups. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have torched the Knicks this year on a number of occasions and 'Melo guarding James is hardly an upgrade.
Rather than looking towards a lengthy Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler to defend the likes of Wade or James, it will instead be Fields and Carmelo forced to take the toughest assignments.
As far as Amar'e Stoudemire guarding Chris Bosh, neither are good defenders and the Heat will most likely have Anthony guard 'Stat'. Even though Anthony has defended Stoudemire very well in the past, Amar'e is still one of the most dangerous scorers in the league and can erupt for 30 points in any game
Unless the Knicks can scoop up a few more role players, they still fall in comparison to the Heat. Miami's big three and bench exceeds the opposition in balance and overall game, while the Knicks hold an edge in one extremely important position, point guard.
Unfortunately for New York, Chauncey isn't getting any younger. New York may have to wait for Deron Williams or Chris Paul to contend for a title.
Luckily for us fans, we don't have to wait long for this match-up to occur. The two teams have their final contest of the season this Sunday in Miami. It will be the new look Knicks first test together and a measure of how dominant of a team the New York Knicks can be in the future.
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