By John Schmeelk
» More Columns
It can be downright painful watching the Knicks in their current construction. The offense has turned into Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith isolation ball. If Anthony doesn’t score 30 the team doesn’t have much of a chance of winning. The only reason the Knicks are even close to being in the playoff race is because of their defense. It’s like watching the late 90’s Knicks all over again. Anthony needs some help. He needs Amar’e Stoudemire.
Truth be told, what the team really needs is Jeremy Lin, or at the very least a competent point guard that can get his team some easy looks. I think Baron Davis still might have it in him, but his body is so ravaged by injuries it’s impossible to tell. Watching him operate the pick and roll is like watching a game played in slow motion. It’s ugly. Mike Bibby is a NBA game in super-slow motion. Toney Douglas looks as lost as ever trying to get the team into its offense. Iman Shumpert does so many things well, but being a NBA point guard isn’t one of them. Jeremy Lin is most likely out until the second round of the playoffs.
So with no improvement coming from the point guard position, it will have to come from Stoudemire. All Knicks fans should be very cautious resting all their hopes at the feet of a player that just lost a month to a herniated disc. Injuries like that have the tendency to re-appear at any moment, and Stoudemire might not be himself athletically when he returns. The Knicks also have to be careful not to push him too fast, too early, or the injury can reoccur.
But if this team has any hope of making a run deep into the postseason, Stoudemire must pic k up a lot of the scoring slack. With no point guard to feed him cutting to the basket, Stoudemire won’t be able to play to his strengths, but he can still contribute with his midrange jumper and on isolations against slower defenders. He doesn’t have to score 25 points per game but he has to get somewhere between 17 and 20 consistently night in and night out if the Knicks want any real chance of beating the Bulls or Heat in the first round.
There’s a theory floating out there that Anthony and Stoudemire can’t coexist. They get in each others way and their games are too similar for both to be successful at the same time. I disagree with that. Are they a perfect match? Certainly not, but we saw the two both play extremely well together after the trade last year. Both players scored over 20 points a game and the Knicks won games. With Anthony’s new commitment to defense, having the two play at the same time is not as much of a liability on that end of the floor.
Their struggles early this season had far more to do with Stoudemire’s slow recovery from his offseason back surgery, and Carmelo Anthony’s myriad of injuries and poor shooting than any sort of incompatibility. Carmelo was missing shots he almost always makes. Stoudemire lacked the explosion and lift he’s always had. Now, Carmelo is virtually unstoppable. Before his recent injury, Amar’e Stoudemire was looking more like himself. If he can pick up where he left off there’s no reason these two guys can’t co-exist and the Knicks can’t win games.
The Knicks can’t get to where they need to get with Anthony shouldering the load he is right now. He needs help. Stoudemire is the only reinforcements he is going to get. If the Knicks want an upset in the first round, he is going to have to be both healthy and effective. Wednesday is supposed to be the day of his return, and we’ll see exactly how much postseason hope Knicks fans should have.
You can follow me on twitter for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and New York sports at: https://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk.