There are many things that could stand in the way of the New York Knicks winning a title.
Will James Dolan make terrible trades? Will he bring Knicks Kryptonite Isiah Thomas back into the fold? Are the Miami Heat just TOO good? All these things could play a factor in the Knicks’ possible shortcomings, but if they fail the number one reason will be because Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire simply can’t coexist with one another.
From the time Anthony was traded from Denver to the Big Apple, he and superstar teammate Stoudemire have found it very difficult to play at an All-Star level while both on the court together, posting an under .500 record when both are in the lineup together.
Knicks fans everywhere are beyond frustrated with this, after all the team traded half their roster to acquire Anthony. Is ‘Melo the problem or is Amar’e the problem?
Some say Anthony is better suited on a team that features more role players. While he was on the Nuggets that team went to the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons (2004-2010). He was by far the main scorer and biggest star on those teams. He likes to shoot and run the offense and may not be comfortable yet with deferring to other players when it comes down to crunch time. Without Stoudemire in the lineup for most of the stretch run last season Anthony seemed possessed. He took the reins of the team in notable wins over Chicago, Milwaukee and Boston:
April 8 vs. Bulls (NY Wins 100-99 in OT) 43 points on 16-31 shooting in 47 minutes (+game winning shot)
April 11 vs. Bucks (NY wins 111-107) 32 points on 13-26 shooting in 41 minutes
April 17 vs. Celtics (NY wins 118-110) 35 points on 13-24 shooting in 40 minutes (also had 12 rebounds)
But because both players have had injuries (mostly Stoudemire) they still don’t have a full season under their belts together so it has been hard for them to get consistent on-court time together to work out the kinks.
‘Melo is coming off a fantastic showing in the London Olympics where he flourished in a role in which he had to take a backseat in minutes to stars like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Hopefully this humbled him a little bit and he may now see the necessity of putting together a team effort in order to win titles.
Amar’e has always had tremendous talent, but knee and back problems and a detached retina have forced him to miss a good amount of games in his career. Before last season his brother was killed in an automobile accident, which had to be a great burden on his mentality for focusing on basketball. He also reportedly came into camp a little heavier which may have led to the bulging disk in his back. After completing his lowest scoring season since his rookie year (not counting the 3 games he played in ’05-’06), he punched a fire extinguisher after losing Game 2 vs. the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
For someone who is chronically injured, self-inflicted wounds add flame to the fire. Stoudemire is at his best when running the pick-and-roll through a point guard that is efficient in this. In 2010-11 he had a magnificent season with Chauncey Billups at the helm. With Billups amnestied before the start of last season the Knicks scrambled to sign guys like Baron Davis and Mike Bibby. Jeremy Lin ended up being the point guard for the team and became an overnight sensation.
But with Lin prospering in a scoring role, Stoudemire’s scoring opportunities were minimized. Lin was a shoot –first style guard while with the Knicks and clearly did not have the pick-and-roll experience that Billups had. Since then Lin has signed with Houston and in his place are Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. Their experience could be a boon in helping to elevate Amar’e into becoming a dominant big man once again.
Despite all the negatives that have been put on this duo, the fact of the matter is that since both these stars have adorned the orange and blue together the Knicks have made the playoff in two consecutive seasons. This is after having not made the playoffs since 2004.
After Mike D’Antoni left last year the team was very efficient under Mike Woodson. With Woodson in the fold from the beginning, the front office making some smart offseason acquisitions and both Anthony and Stoudemire vowing good health, it will be fun to see how well the team can play in an 82-game season.