Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Most teams would be thrilled to get a six-time All-Star back from injury.
As you may have already figured out, the New York Knicks aren't like most teams. Logic went out the window in the Big Apple a long time ago.
By the looks of it, when Amare Stoudemire returns from knee surgery around Christmas time, he'll become the highest paid sixth man in NBA history.
With the Knicks clinging to the best record in the Eastern Conference through 18 games, coach Mike Woodson is leaning toward using Stoudemire as a sub in a move that he feels will preserve team chemistry.
Stat isn't a diva like Dwight Howard. Stoudemire understands that this is about winning a championship and if Woodson really believes this is what's best for the team, he'll do it.
At first glance, having a player of Stoudemire's All-Star pedigree coming off the bench seems absolutely ludicrous. Upon closer examination, however, Woodson might actually be onto something here.
We are currently in the third year of the Stoudemire/Carmelo Anthony experiment, and so far the pairing has produced mixed results.
Injuries limited the duo to just 39 games together during the lockout shortened 2011-12 campaign. In those 39 contests, Stoudemire averaged 17.5 ppg on 51.9 percent shooting while Anthony put up 20.2 ppg with a 40 percent success rate from the field.
Stoudemire was the more effective rebounder (8.0 rpg compared to 5.8 rpg for Carmelo) while Anthony proved to be the more trigger-happy of the two All- Stars (17.7 field goal attempts per game to Stoudemire's 12.6 shots per contest). Overall, the Knicks had a losing record (18-21 for a .462 win percentage) when both were in the lineup.
When it was just Stoudemire last season, the Knicks were 4-4 and scored an average of just 93.5 ppg. That's well below the 98.2 ppg the team averaged when both Stoudemire and Anthony were on the court.
With Carmelo on the sidelines, Stoudemire looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Though his 17.4 ppg clip was about the same as what he averaged when they were together, Stoudemire's field goal percentage fell to a dismal 37.3 percent on 20.2 field goal attempts per game. Without Anthony, Stoudemire also averaged fewer rpg (6.9).
Those statistics would lead you to believe that Stoudemire should be playing side by side with Anthony. But get a load of this. In 32 games without Stoudemire in the lineup the past two seasons (I didn't include Carmelo's game against Washington on February 6th when he injured himself and only played six minutes), Anthony is scoring an unstoppable 28.3 ppg on 47.5 percent shooting. During those 32 matchups, Carmelo has hauled in an average of 7.3 boards per contest while attempting 20.9 field goals per game.
What's even more telling about this 32-game sampling is New York's win percentage minus Stoudemire. When Anthony is in and Stoudemire is out, the Knicks are 23-9 (.719).
During this 32-game stretch without Stoudemire, Anthony and the Knicks have put up an impressive 100.9 ppg. In 18 games this season alone (17 were with Anthony), New York has scored 103.2 ppg. That's good for third in the NBA behind defending conference champions Miami and Oklahoma City.
As a big man, Stoudemire relies on ballhandlers like Anthony to feed him in the low post. But at the same time, having to accommodate Stoudemire down low restricts Anthony's ability to create offense for himself, which is why Carmelo has been far more productive without Stoudemire in the lineup.
Stoudemire and superstar Steve Nash could coexist in Phoenix because Nash wasn't looking to score. In New York, Anthony doesn't share that same mindset. Sharing the rock with another superstar just isn't an option in Carmelo's world. It's his way or the highway.
Some would call that approach selfish but it's hard to argue with the results. Plain and simple, the Knicks perform better when Anthony is the focal point of the offense.
It remains to be seen whether Stoudemire can succeed in a supporting role but right now it looks like New York's best option. Fantasy owners hoping for a bounceback year from Stoudemire may need to find a new plan of attack.