The New York Knicks should have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA with Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler leading the way, but right now Amar’e is withering away on the bench, and his status has diminished due to his lack of contribution and huge contract.
Ever since Carmelo Anthony arrived in New York, the press and the fans have been discussing whether the two superstars can coexist.
It’s a valid question considering that they both prefer the offense to go through them, and the Knicks haven’t quite had the postseason success they had hoped for when they signed the pair.
An angle that hasn’t been discussed as much is whether the pairing up of Chandler and Stoudemire is what’s hurting the Knicks. The answer is a tad bit more complicated than a yes or a no, but either way, it doesn’t reflect well on Stoudemire.
Chandler and Stoudemire on paper
Statistically, the duo seems to be doing just fine. Actually, they’re doing better than fine. When Amar’e and Chandler are playing together, the Knicks outscore their opponents by 12.6 points, make 4.8 more field goals and outrebound them by 6.6.
That’s actually better than the Chandler-Anthony pairing that’s been so effective for the Knicks this season. Chandler and Anthony outscored their opponents by 7.4, outshot them by 0.4 field goals and outrebounded them by 0.5.
So this should put any doubts regarding Chandler and Amar’e to rest, right? Not so fast.
Melo and Chandler played a total of 1641 minutes together, but Amar’e and Chandler played only 338 and don’t have nearly the same sample size.
Besides, there are more than two players on a basketball team, which leads us to the next point.
Stoudemire disrupts the team's momentum
Mike Woodson’s most trusted five-man unit this season consisted of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Anthony and Chandler. It was a gutsy, yet necessary move on Woodson’s part as he had to account for injuries to his big men, but it turned out to be a big success.
They averaged 1.24 points per possession on offense and 0.96 points per possession on defense.
So when Stoudemire was added to the mix, shouldn’t the team have improved both offensively and defensively?
Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Stoudemire figured in the Knicks’ fourth-most-used lineup where he subbed in for Kidd and played the 4, while Smith and Anthony played the 2 and 3 respectively.
While this lineup was still successful, it was a far cry from the previous one. The Knicks were now averaging 1.16 points per possession on offense and 1.13 on defense. The drop in defensive performance was quite remarkable.
The Knicks simply don’t win with Amar’e
The bottom line is that the Knicks are simply not a playoff contender when Amar’e Stoudemire takes the floor. This season, the Knicks were 38-15 without the power forward and 16-13 with him.
Those numbers could not be any clearer. When Amar’e sits out, the Knicks are a contender. When he plays, they are barely a .500 team.
It’s bad enough that he plays only 29 games during the whole season and averages 23 minutes in those games, but now it turns out he actually makes them a worse team?
It’s a sad sight when a player deteriorates, especially someone like Stoudemire, who has always come across as a sensible guy. But he’s simply not good enough for this basketball team.
It’s not about pairing him up with Chandler or pairing him up with Anthony; it’s about him disrupting the flow of this team whenever he’s on the court.
There’s not a Knicks fan in the whole world who doesn’t wish that Stoudemire can return to his 2010-11 form when he averaged 25.3 PPG, but that would be nothing short of a miracle right now.