I’ve thought from the jump that pairing Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, together in New York was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I know both are great players. I know Amar’e is taller and a true power forward, and Carmelo is a small forward, that can play power forward at times. I just don’t think they compliment each other very well. For the most part they have similar styles of play. Further, they also have some of the same strengths and weaknesses. Neither player is very good defensively. Never have been. Obviously, where they both earn their check is on the offensive end of the floor.
After returning from injury, Stoudemire has spent a lot of time coming off the bench. Which I thought was a sound strategy by head coach Mike Woodson. Especially, since the Knicks seemed to have great chemistry without him. The problem with that, is Stoudemire and Anthony are on the floor together quite often now, and they both do their best offensive damage from the same real estate on the floor. What’s a coach to do? You definitely want to play with your best players on the floor, especially in crunch time.
Like most superstars, Carmelo dominates possession of the ball where the Knicks run a lot of Isolation plays for him. Other than Kobe Bryant, there is no one better than Melo in isolation. Stoudemire, also has a history, while with the Knicks, and earlier in his career with the Phoenix Suns, to play sort of the same way. You would think having two players with the skill set Anthony and Stoudemire have, would be a nightmare for opposing teams to defend. Sometimes it can be, but for the most part what you get is a lot of offensive sets where there isn’t enough spacing for both to be able do what they do best. Thus, making the Knicks a little easier to defend in the half court.
One thing that has been a saving grace for the Knicks this season, however is their 3 point shooting. The Knicks fire from downtown more often than any other NBA team at 29 per game, and make 35.6% of those shots. Perhaps, the biggest difference between Melo and Amar’e, is 3 point shooting. Carmelo is sinking 41% of 3 point attempts, where you rarely see Stoudemire jack up shots from beyond the arc. I don’t know where the Knicks would be, if they weren’t shooting the ball that well from 3.
I think recent talk about the Knicks being better without Carmelo is complete nonsense. However, I truly believe that the Knicks are better with only one of them on the floor. Before Stoudemire’s return from injury the Knicks were 21-9 and clearly the 2nd best team in the east. Since, the Knicks are 16-13 and are now fighting to just have home court in the first round of the playoffs. Melo is no doubt the guy best equipped to take the Knicks where they and their desperate fans want them to go, but can he and Amar’e coexist on the floor and lead the Knicks to that long playoff run and eventually that elusive first NBA Title in New York in over 40 years? I have my doubts.