(In this case, No Amare and Lin, No Cry.)
It all started at MSG. After a victory against the Pistons, both Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin spoke with the media and insisted that they would be ready to play in the team’s next game. Each player suffered a minor injury. For Stoudemire, a sore lower back, but not nearly as bad as last season, and for Lin, a sore knee, which he thought stemmed from “overuse.”
To start the season, the starting lineup was Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. With this lineup, and reserves like Balkman, Shumpert and Harrellson, Knicks fans and Knicks personnel had their sites on the postseason.
Now, flash forward to today, the Knicks will have to finish out the season without a clear idea of when Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin will return, but have picked up sharp-shooting Steve Novak, sometimes amazing, sometimes insane, JR Smith, and have gotten Baron Davis back from injury.
Today, the Knicks have a much more talented roster, even without Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin.
For this reason, relax.
Yes, Amare is a great player. Yes, he is our franchise player. Yes, we pay him $20 million. Yes, he can single-handily take over a game.
But now, without him, the team will revolve around Carmelo Anthony and need to play team basketball in order to contend with their opponents. With a bench consisting of the likes of JR Smith, Josh Harrellson and Steve Novak, among others, the Knicks are perfectly suited to play well-executed, team basketball.
Now, let’s answer a few frequently asked questions…
Q: Which Knicks will pick up the scoring?
A: Steve Novak has been unreal. With an increase to his minutes, he should produce even more points. Novakaine has been hitting big shots all year, but now he can numb the Knicks rid of their Lin and Stoudemire sorrows, one three at a time.
Q: Can we trust Bibby and Toney off the bench to give Baron some rest?
A: Hopefully. Mike Bibby is old. Like really, really old. Even older than Baron Davis. While we might not be able to count on him for any meaningful minutes, Toney Douglas should be able to pick up the slack.
A post will be coming soon about Douglas…
Q: Other than ‘Melo, who can give us scoring from down low?
A: ‘Melo and Tyson Chandler will be the only ones providing scoring down low, aside from the occasional JR Smith alley-oop, of course. With Stoudemire out, Chandler is the only big man on this roster that can do anything in the paint.
Harrellson will do most of his work on the wings, allowing the floor to be spaced out; Novak won’t penetrate the three-point line; and Jerome Jordan will be lucky to leave the bench.
So, Melo on the block and Chandler under the hoop will be our only down-low scoring.
Q: Should Landry Fields be replaced by Shumpert or Smith in the starting lineup?
A: Yes and no.
Shumpert has been truly remarkable this year. He’s been more than anyone could have asked for. He’s proven to be a wonderful defender, no matter whom he’s matched up against, as well as a talented offensive scorer, who has the ability to knock down the open jumper… Unlike Landry Fields.
But, if we were to transplant Shumpert into the starting five, the bench’s production would dramatically drop off. Same goes for JR Smith.
I think Landry will continue to start, since ‘Melo provides enough fire-power for the first unit, and the duo of JR and Iman will continue to wreck havoc against the opposing team’s second unit.
In a late game situation, however, I do think that Iman Shumpert will replace Landry Fields on the floor, because he is a much more skilled defender.
Q: Can they keep up the intensity on defense without Jeffries and the injured stars?
Jeffries is a crucial player, but with Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert on the floor, the Knicks’ defense will continue to be superb. With these two players, the Knicks have both the paint and perimeter locked down. Also, Jeffries should be back by the end of the week.