As someone who predicted pretty early last season that the New York Knicks would be a better team without Amar’e Stoudemire and advocated trading him to the Bobcats for Boris Diaw and DeSagana Diop — both were expiring contracts and the move would have allowed New York to have cap space this summer — I’m shocked this observation is coming from me.
I have full faith Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire will be successful on the court together this season… from an offensive perspective.
Last season, the threesome played 794 total minutes together and put up an offensive rating of 98.5 and a defensive rating of 100.3, according to NBA.com.
What has to be remembered is this year’s Knicks team and last year’s Knicks team have some major differences.
During those 794 minutes, Melo, Tyson and STAT spent 632 minutes playing with Landry Fields, 362 minutes with Iman Shumpert, 328 minutes with Jeremy Lin, 126 minutes with Toney Douglas, 41 minutes with J.R. Smith, 39 minutes with Mike Bibby, 32 with Baron Davis and 16 minutes with Bill Walker.
That accounts for 1576 of the 1588 minutes available next to New York’s three highest salary players. I looked over each page twice, I don’t know where the other 12 minutes are, but they also only show the top 250 groups of four for total minutes.
The combined three point shooting percentage between those eight players in 2011-2012 was 30% (286-946). Now, add that to the fact Chandler isn’t a threat unless rolling to the basket, plus Melo and Stoudemire’s outside shooting last year was the equivalent of dog poop when they played together, and you see that it was a terrible mix. Opposing teams could basically put all five men in the paint and point and laugh whenever someone on the Knicks took an outside shot.
That won’t be the case now, though.
Even when Jason Kidd (52% from downtown) and Ray Felton (40%) eventually regress (Yes, it’s likely to happen, but if they continue at this rate, even better…) with J.R. Smith staying right around where he is (35%) or taking a slight bump up and Iman Shumpert hopefully showing off an improved jumper (shot 35% in March and April compared to 26% in December, January and February) — the spacing around those three will be significantly better.
If Melo continues to shoot at a career best from three point range, which I expect to happen, and Stoudemire’s jumper regains form, spacing will be a complete non-issue.
Two players I noticeably left out of the equation are Ronnie Brewer and Pablo Prigioni. I don’t see either player getting much time with Melo, Amar’e and Tyson as four of a five man unit. If Stoudemire starts, Brewer should be the one going to the bench and if Amar’e comes off the bench, their playing time won’t overlap much.
Prigioni will get run playing with STAT in the second unit, but as has been the case this year, he won’t see significant time with the first unit.
I brought this up on the first Knicks Wall podcast and have pointed it out on Twitter:
So far this season, the Knicks’ offensive efficiency is 111, good for second in the league.
When the group of Tyson Chandler, Kurt Thomas and Carmelo Anthony are on the court together, their offensive efficiency is 108.5, granted it’s in a ridiculously small sample size of 29 minutes. If the offense hasn’t nosedived with Crazy Eyes on the court, I believe it will be efficient when Amar’e plays with the two current Knicks leaders.
Defensively, there are some concerns, but as I listed above, the Knicks’ defensive efficiency when these three played together was a 100 in 2011-12. If they keep the offense rolling at an elite level and give full effort, it should be enough to offset any drop on the defensive end.
Thanks To NBA.com for the stats.