Think about this scenario: Carmelo Anthony plays the four, Iman Shumpert slips into the small forward spot and J.R. Smith gets the start at shooting guard.
Now who’s the New York Knicks’ sixth man?
Between Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire—it looks like it’s going to have to be Bargnani.
Both big men have been saddled with injuries the last two years, missing about the same number of games. Bargnani skipped 82 games while Amar’e sat for 72, so you can’t really pick one over the other based on that parameter—maybe.
Knicks fans know all too well about Stoudemire’s knees—both have been operated on in the last 12 months. Amar’e still wasn’t 100 percent by playoffs’ end, and according to Rotoworld.com, he will need some of “the offseason to rest and rehab.”
Yes, Stoudemire is back at it again with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer per Zach Harper of CBS Sports, but nothing’s happening until
Olajuwon sees the athletic state of Stoudemire and just how healthy his body is, [then] he can begin working on certain things to complement and develop the game of the Knicks' big man.
It might wind up becoming a battle of the injuries, but assuming both players make it through most of the season, the big impediment blocking Stoudemire’s quest to be New York’s sixth man will be his limited minutes.
Woodson confirmed Post report Stoudemire will definitely have minutes restriction next season. Post reported after Bargs trade could be 20.
— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) July 10, 2013
Amar’e is looking at as little as 20 minutes per game as of now and maybe even resting on the second of back-to-back nights.
Even with his injuries, Bargnani still managed 29 and 33 MPG the past two seasons, which will be at least 50 percent more court time than Stoudemire—and that doesn’t include Amar’e’s back-end DNPs.
Also, Bargnani is a more flexible fit on the Knicks roster. Right now, he’s the only viable backup to center Tyson Chandler, who after falling off at the end of 2012-13 is looking at having his minutes shaved, as well.
Throughout most of his career (and officially), though, Bargnani has played the four and he’ll get time there in New York no matter where Anthony is playing.
The seven-footer has even played small forward in a pinch.
Bargnani has played all three frontcourt positions as a professional. He's too thin to be a traditional power forward or center, but he also possesses a speed advantage over most players at both of those positions. (via Alex Raskin at Nj.com)
Stoudemire will be limited not only in playing time, but also position: power forward and that’s it.
His point production will follow.
In 2012-13, Stoudemire averaged 14 points per game—just below the critical 15-point mark the Knicks need from a third scorer—and he played 20 minutes or more in 23 of 29 games. There will be a lower ratio of those games in 2013-14.
So, the role of third offensive option is currently in the hands of Bargnani, who has averaged over 15 PPG for his career, with a best of 21.4 PPG in 2010-11.
Right after that, he began his war with injury. If Bargnani is back to full health and he’s intimating, perhaps he can average anywhere from 15-20 points per night.
In the end, Bargnani will get more minutes, play more games, potentially score more points, grab more rebounds and dish out more assists—on average and in total—than Stoudemire, given the latter’s restrictions.
Stoudmire will improve in several ways: he’ll be working on that post-up game with Hakeem, become a greater perimeter threat and may find himself more occasionally behind the arc.
But if Bargnani is healthy, he will likely outproduce Amar’e overall.
Stoudemire is a big fan favorite, despite his anchoring contract, and it’s tough to see this happen, but it probably will.
Either way, the 2013-14 Sixth Man of the Year award isn’t going to be handed out in New York.