Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Two superstar power forwards -- Dirk Nowitzki and Amar'e Stoudemire -- with 17 All-Star appearances between them recently made their season debuts after undergoing knee surgeries in October, but that's where the similarities end.
For one, Nowitzki's team, the Dallas Mavericks, desperately needs him to return to form, while Stoudemire's New York Knicks have thrived in his absence.
Both players came off the bench in their season debuts, but whereas Nowitzki began practicing with the starters on Friday, Stoudemire seems to be exiled to the pine indefinitely.
The major factor in those decisions is that Dallas, despite the ascension of O.J. Mayo, is still Nowitzki's team. The Knicks franchise and Stoudemire's starting power forward position, however, are Carmelo Anthony's now. Stoudemire can't even claim ownership of the bench unit since sixth man J.R. Smith has played at such a high level. And he can forget about logging minutes at center with Tyson Chandler entrenched there.
The Mavs and Knicks are moving in opposite directions -- Dallas is 13-20, 12th in the Western Conference, while New York is one game out of the No. 1 spot in the East with a 22-10 record -- but Dallas' situation clearly seems more conducive to fantasy success.
Plus, Nowitzki was already a superior fantasy talent by far last season with comparable minutes, and I'm not even taking into account the fact that Stoudemire missed 19 games while Nowitzki played 62 of 66.
Going strictly by averages, Nowitzki ranked as the 10th best fantasy player in Yahoo! leagues last season while Stoudemire was outside the top 75 (79th). The Mavericks star averaged 21.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 1.3 threes and 1.9 turnovers with .457/.896 shooting percentages in 33.5 minutes per game.
Stoudemire bettered Nowitzki in field goal percentage (.483), rebounds (7.8), steals (0.8) and blocks (1.0), but fell short in the other five categories (17.5 ppg, 1.1 ast, 2.4 TO, 0.1 3PM, .765 FT).
Stoudemire also has been more injury prone than Nowitzki, having undergone microfracture knee surgery in the past in addition to missing time last season due to a bulging disk in his back. Nowitzki played 73 or more games in 12 straight seasons prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
Since Stoudemire is owed about $19.9 million this season with two additional years on his contract, I'm confident Knicks coach Mike Woodson will find a way to get the big man involved, but not at the expense of the formula that has worked so well in the first two months of this season.
To put it simply, Stoudemire will be a Knicks' luxury while Nowitzki will be a necessity for the Mavericks over the final three and a half months of the season. The latter usually works better for fantasy owners.
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