Anyone expecting to see New York Knicks’ forward Amar’e Stoudemire in the starting lineup or possibly on the floor more can forget about it.
Despite Stoudemire’s improved play and despite the fact that STAT looks like his old self and has been one of the best players wearing a Knicks jersey as of late, Stoudemire will continue to come off the bench and will continue to be limited to under 30 minutes per game.
STAT, who made his season debut January 1, and has averaged 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and shooting 57 percent from the floor while playing just slightly over 22 minutes per night seems fine with his role for the time being- as long as the Knicks start winning. Stoudemire doesn’t seem to mind coming off the bench, even though he sits on it down the stretch of games despite being one of the only productive Knicks players as of late.
“(If) we keep winning then we’re good. When we start losing a little bit then you start thinking about it,” Stoudemire told ESPN’s Ian Begley after Sunday’s game against the Sixers where he scored 22 points while making 9-of-10 shots from the floor. “Whatever the coaching staff needs me to do; I’m there to answer the call,”
However one could make the case that Stoudemire should either be starting or playing more in crunch time, but there are a couple factors that prevent that.
One is the fact that he is still a below average defender and Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson can’t afford to have him on the floor late in games, hoping to avoid defensive breakdowns.
Secondly, Woodson wants to protect the health of STAT.
“He’s still at that 30-minute mark,” Woodson told ESPN’s Jared Zwerling. “I’m just trying to cap it as much as I can in case we’ve got to have him down the stretch. I’m not trying to burn him early. It’s tough from a coaching standpoint, but from a medical standpoint, we’ve got to protect Amar’e, too, for the long haul.”
As far as Stoudemire starting, that’s not going to happen either.
Woodson is stubborn in his ways and is reluctant to change a starting unit that is struggling badly, even though the Knicks are only 15-15 over the course of their past 30 games.
The starting lineup of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler has produced only 0.9 points per possession and have allowed 1.02 points per possession when on the floor together this season. That’s the second lowest total offensively as any five man unit Woodson has used this season. Defensively, they are average to below average compared to other five man units on the season.
Kidd is shooting an atrocious 21 percent from the floor and only 17 percent from behind the arc in the month of February. Shumpert is shooting only 30.7 percent from the floor in his 16 games this season. Chandler gets less than six shot attempts per game. That leaves the Knicks with just Felton and Anthony as productive scoring options and that means ‘Melo often tries to do too much.
All of that and some other advanced metrics would make you think a lineup change is in order, whether it is Stoudemire or not, but Woodson says it is not going to happen.
“It’s nice to start a game and jump on teams (early) … but that hasn’t been our M-O for the last month or so. Starting STAT, I’m not sure that is the answer,” Woodson said Monday in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show.” “I think he’s very comfortable with where he is right now, I’m comfortable where he is in terms of coming off (the bench).”
It has been very nice to see STAT return to his old self, but don’t count on seeing more of him any time in the near future.
By the time Woodson realizes things aren’t working, it may be too late.
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