Saturday’s destruction was tough to watch. It stung for hours after, and truthfully, it still does. As a Knicks fan, coming off a loss, I’m always thinking of ways for the Knicks to improve and alter they’re chances of moving onto the next round. One strategy that has been talked about a lot, but Woodson has yet to implement is to play Carmelo Anthony at the four, Amare Stoudemire at the five, but not at the same time.
I fully understand why James Dolan doesn’t want either one of his stars coming off the bench. They’re both getting paid roughly $100 million, and how would it look to bench such a high-paid player? It would look like failure. But for Woodson, his job is to put the Knicks in the best position to win games and ultimately, to win championships. The Knicks are a very unique team because of the fact that they have two very talented superstars. Unfortunately, it seems as if they can’t co-exist, but that’s fine.
This season, when playing the center position, Amare Stoudemire had a PER of 24.1, but at the power-forward slot, just 15, which is league average. Had Stoudemire been ranked just on his production at center, he would find himself with the second best PER for centers, behind Dwight Howard, as well as the second best PER for power-forwards, behind Kevin Love. Not only does Amare’s offensive production increase, but he holds his defenders to a 12.1 PER at the center position, compared to a 14.7 PER at the power-forward position, which equates to about a four-point per game difference.
For Carmelo Anthony, he also sees a dramatic increase in production by moving positions. When Melo switches from small-forward to power-forward, his PER increases by 12.4, from 16.5 to 28.9. He scores 38 points per 48 minutes, compared to 28.4 at the small-forward slot. Also, like Amare, he holds his defenders to less production at his superior position.
So, we can conclude that the numbers show Stoudemire is better at center and Melo is much better at power-forward – both likely due to the quickness they possess over their larger opponents. Some might think an easy fix would be to just slide Melo and STAT up in the lineup, but numbers actually also prove that they suck together.
These charts speak for themselves, but a points production increases of 21.9% for Stoudemire when he plays without Carmelo on the floor and a 36.9% increase for Melo with Stoudemire off the floor, are statistics that should not go un-appreciated.
Since both superstars need the ball – we’ll go with this assumtption until they prove otherwise – it would seem logical to play one with the second unit and one with the first. This doesn’t mean moving Stoudemire or Anthony to the bench, either. Starting both players to kick of the game, then taking out Stoudemire after four minutes, would give Melo about 7-8 minutes of freedom in the first-quarter, then when Woodson proceeds to give ‘Melo his rest to start the second, Stoudemire could re-enter the game, with the second unit and freshness, and prey on the Heat’s thin second unit. To counteract the offense, Woodson could play Melo with Chandler and Stoudemire with Jeffries, in order to have two strong offense/defense units.
The Knicks will need to play their best to beat the Heat. Statistics show that Melo is his best at power-forward and Amare Stoudemire is his best at center. While there is reason for Woodson not to bench one of New York’s superstars, there are ways to play them at different times.