In an up and down crazy New York Knicks season, where the lineup has been changed more times than a babies diaper, it is hard to judge both the quality of this team and the quality of an individuals play in this shortened injury-prone season.
However, now that Amar’e Stoudemire is not going to play for at least one game due to his punching of a fire extinguisher, and injury to his hand, we now will see and analyze if the Knicks are better or worse without him.
So far, the numbers are against him! In the 47 games that Amar’e has played this season the Knicks went 22-25 only 9 of which were wins against teams that made it to the playoffs.
Something happened to Amar’e this year that we are all trying to figure out. His legs just aren’t there! He can’t beat anyone off the dribble like he did last season and doesn’t have the consistent mid-range shot that works so effectively when players lay off him. He flat out does not look like a star anymore.
As I watched these past two playoff games, the more I realized we might be far better off without Amar’e. Although the stats clearly prove that the Knicks play better without him (14-5), you can also see by watching, that the Knicks look worse in all aspects of the game with Amar’e.
Starting with the offense, his style and position basically clogs things up. He likes to get the ball in a similar spot as Carmelo Anthony (who is a much better scorer) and is a guy who needs a certain amount of touches in a game to exceed. When Amar’e does get the ball the offense seems more stagnant, since he doesn’t look to pass. In past seasons he could create, score and force a double team. Since he rarely hits his mid range jumper, his field goal percentage is his lowest since his second year along with his points per game being the lowest since his rookie season – in turn, teams let him be.
Defensively, he also has been painful to watch, as he has clearly become a liability. In Game 2 more than ever he didn’t even attempt to close out on the shooters around the 3-point line when he was caught up on the switch. How many times did you cringe when he got caught guarding Lebron on a switch? In addition, he makes no effort to find someone to box out to for the rebound. There were multiple times in the first two games where smaller players were getting rebounds by either out-hustling or out jumping Amar’e.
So, maybe Amar’e hurting his hand when he punched the glass of the fire extinguisher is a blessing in disguise. Carmelo can go back to the 4 position where he excelled in the month of April averaging close to 30 points a game and was really able to get where he wanted to go without there being someone that clogged the paint. Carmelo also played menacing defense on the opponents’ power forward and utilized the mismatches on offense to his advantage. With a more open offense, hopefully Carmelo can be Carmelo, forcing double teams and leaving the Knick three point shooters open.
Lets hope that the “Amar’eless” Knicks being quicker both offensively and defensively brings success in Game 3!