Why Stephon Marbury's Right About Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 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

The New York Knicks might not have gotten the very best out of Stephon Marbury during the five seasons in which he was with the team, but they're getting some good advice from him now (via ESPN New York's Ian Begley). Marbury told ESPN New York on Wednesday:

Amare needs a point guard like Steve Nash (to thrive). He's a pick-and-roll guy, a pick-and-pop guy. He can't play in the half court where everything's slowed down.

Begley goes on to reveal that Marbury thinks, "Anthony is the Knicks' best player and the team should be built around his strengths."

These doubts are nothing new, and that should tell you something about their legitimacy.

The situation isn't Carmelo Anthony's fault, and nor is it Amar'e Stoudemire's. They've both made attempts to adjust to one another, and they've done so under two different coaches. Expecting an instantaneous chemistry is naive.

Stoudemire continues to work with post-legend Hakeem Olajuwon in order to expand his half-court game, and Anthony did his best to fit into former head coach Mike D'Antoni's free-flowing, up-tempo offense.

Of course, we all know by now that Anthony is at his best with the ball in his hands exploiting mismatches while using his quickness and while shooting off the dribble.

It's not that he's ineffective in other situations—it's just that he plays more like a superstar when put in a position to succeed. That's how most players are, really. When you allow them to make the most of their skill sets, they reward you.

With head coach Mike Woodson implementing a more "Melo-friendly" system, Stoudemire will be the one making most of the adjustments from here on out, as evidenced by his work with Olajuwon.

There's no question Amar'e remains NYC's second-best scorer, but Marbury's right. The plays and paces at which he excels come at the expense of those at which Anthony excels. And there are only so many possessions to go around.

A surmountable obstacle?

Probably, at least to some extent. Anthony and Stoudemire are clearly willing to evolve their games in pursuit of a more perfect harmony.

But there's every possibility that the results won't live up to the ever-lofty expectations Knicks fans have for what amounts to their best team in over a decade. Anything short of a strong second-round showing in the 2013 playoffs could spur interest in trading Stoudemire and the two years remaining on his contract at season's end.

New York might have to accept pennies on the dollar for the highly-paid power forward, but there should still be some demand for Amar'e if he stays healthy. His first season with the Knicks was a resounding success, so we know the guy can still play.

Of course, the Knicks are hoping it never comes to that.

They're hoping Stoudemire settles in more seamlessly as the second option and that this unit has what it takes to knock off the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics en route to a title.

That may be asking a bit much of this unit. Even if Anthony and Stoudemire were both firing on all cylinders, New York's improved supporting cast will need to do its part. The Knicks' two stars will almost certainly bear the brunt of blame or credit regardless of what happens, but they'll need plenty of help competing in the East.

Knicks fans should be as or more concerned about whether Raymond Felton can rediscover his form while playing in a half-court offense or whether J.R. Smith can improve his consistency.

They should be hoping that Iman Shumpert's development isn't stunted by a backcourt rotation with five solid options.

It's no secret that the buck stops with Anthony and Stoudemire, but the drive to improve and adjust shouldn't stop with them either.


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