While it still isn’t known exactly when Amar’e Stoudemire will return to action for the New York Knicks, the day is drawing near.
Stoudemire has been working out with the Knicks’ D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, and according to reports, may practice with the Knicks tomorrow.
The 6’ 11” Stoudemire, who underwent knee surgery shortly before the season, is yet to practice or play for the Knicks this year. His absence has not been an issue however, as Carmelo Anthony has led New York an 18-6 record, tops in the East.
With Stoudemire’s return coming soon, and the Knicks playing extremely well, there has been a lot of talk regarding what Stoudemire’s role will be when comes back.
One option the Knicks have would be to bring Stoudemire off the bench.
Stoudemire himself would be open to it, saying,
“You guys know me, ever since I’ve been here I’ve been all about winning and been a total team player. Whatever it takes to win, that’s the goal.”
No one can know if Stoudemire really wants to start on the bench, or if he is just saying so. However, the move makes sense for the Knicks if he is truly willing to accept that role.
The usual starting lineup for the Knicks, when healthy, features Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Ronnie Brewer, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler.
The natural move to include Stoudemire in the starting lineup would be to remove Brewer and switch Anthony back to small forward.
There are some issues, though, that would come into play with Stoudemire playing in the starting lineup.
Anthony, who is in the midst of a great season, needs a lot of shots. He is one of the best offensive players in the league, but he controls the ball when he is in the game.
Stoudemire, another primarily offensive player, would also need his touches. Having Stoudemire lead the second unit would allow him to be the primary offensive player that he is used to.
Another issue with having Stoudemire in the starting lineup is that a main part of his game is running pick-and-rolls.
With the current starting lineup, Chandler, being the lone big man, is used in most of the pick-and-rolls. Chandler is great at finishing off of these pick-and-rolls, currently shooting 73% at the rim according to NBA.com. Chandler is playing very well, and there is no reason to decrease his already limited touches.
If Stoudemire comes off the bench, he could be both the main offensive threat and the top pick-and-roll man. He would could lead the second unit, and get a similar number of touches that he is used to.
If he returns to his old form, Stoudemire would easily be the league’s best reserve player, and would greatly improve the Knicks’ bench.
If Amare truly willing to come off bench full-time, NYK 2nd unit would be: Prig, JR, Novak, Stat and Sheed. #Notbadatall
— Michael Wallace (@WallaceNBA_ESPN) December 18, 2012
New York has been one of the best teams in the league, and adding Stoudemire to the mix will make them even better. Bringing him off the bench will allow the first unit to maintain their chemistry and give Stoudemire the offensive role he is used to, albeit in limited minutes.
Stoudemire is a gifted player, and his return, whether it be in the starting lineup, or coming of the bench, will make both the Knicks and the NBA more fun to watch.