This isn’t one of those “The Knicks need to start Stoudemire” rants. I, like most, understand that Carmelo Anthony is best at the power forward position and, therefore, Amar’e is best served coming off the bench.
That said, there’s an issue with his playing time. A big one. A really big one.
In the Knicks’ latest win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Stoudemire scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shootings. He also added five rebounds and two steals. The problem, then? All this came in just 22 minutes.
If New York wants to bring Stoudemire of the bench (they should), they need to clear at least 30 minutes of action for the power forward, as long as he’s healthy enough to do so. The days of him playing 35 to 40 minutes are long gone, and rightfully so, but I don’t understand the logic behind limiting his minutes so drastically.
Because he’s a defensive liability?
Let’s get real.
The Knicks are actually allowing four points fewer per 100 possessions with STAT off the floor, but he’s appeared in less than 25 games. That’s hardly a sample size large enough to draw any conclusions. And if we really want to be in the business of drawing such premature conclusions, I point you to the 14.1 PER he’s holding opposing power forwards and centers to while on the floor. That’s below the league average of 15.
Admittedly, I have seen spots where Stoudemire defends poorly, but I’ve also seen times where coach Mike Woodson’s tutelage appears to be resonating. His rotations aren’t perfect, but they’ve gotten better and he’s become more aware of his surroundings in general.
Is he a top notch defender? Far from it. But the same can be said of J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton, who both take too many chances on the defensive end of the ball.
What I’m saying is the Knicks must realize that they still have a six-time All-Star on their hands. He was amenable to coming off the bench and do what it takes to win, but they seem to be taking advantage now. Better yet, they’re almost shooting themselves in the foot.
New York has lost four of its last five games. Stoudemire didn’t crack 30—or even 27—minutes in any of those games. As impressive as his offensive performance was against Philly, he can’t be expected to score 22 points in 22 minutes every night.
And what truly gets me is his absence down the stretch. Again, his subpar defensive prowess comes into play here, but with five minutes remaining and the game still on the line against the Sixers, STAT was nowhere to be found. Instead, we watched as Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Anthony, Smith and Felton took it home.
Who should the Knicks bench in favor of Stoudemire? That’s up to Woodson, as is the decision to bench him in the first place. But if the Knicks want to win, they need to find a way to utilize all of their resources efficiently, and that includes finding Stoudemire more minutes.
He may never been an All-Star again, but remains one of the best scorers in the game and the only true low post threat the Knicks even have.
A threat that they’re currently wasting.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.