Since his arrival in New York, Carmelo Anthony hasn't had as easy of a time playing next to Amare Stoudemire as he thought he would. It hasn't been nearly as bad as most critics make it out to be, but it hasn't been good either. Much of that can be blamed on Stoudemire's lack of health. However, this summer the New York Knicks acquired another often injured forward Andrea Bargnani. Will Bargnani prove to be a better fit with Anthony than Stoudemire has been?
Amare Stoudemire has been injured a lot during his stint with the New York Knicks. He's only been able to play 154 regular season games over the last three seasons in New York. That's why some critics were left scratching their heads when the Knicks decided to acquire his replacement and announced it was Andrea Bargnani who had only played 132 regular season games in the past three seasons for the Toronto Raptors.
However, style-wise, the Knicks and their coaching staff believes Bargnani fits better with Carmelo Anthony on the court than Stoudemire does. Is it too early to proclaim anything? Absolutely, Bargnani hasn't played a single regular season game with New York and missed Eurobasket and most of his off-season conditioning this summer with a bout of pneumonia. Clearly he still has plenty to prove about his ability to fit in with this roster and his ability to stay healthy.
If Bargnani isn't able to stay healthy his trade to New York will be a failed one. However, that too has to play out before anything can be proclaimed. That being said, the theory is that if Bargnani can remain healthy he and Anthony should be able to combine to make a formidable forward combination.
"It’s looking good," Woodson said on Sunday. "I don’t know who’s going to start yet. But I like the makeup of Andrea and Melo on the floor at the same time with Tyson [Chandler]. In the scrimmage we worked that combination. It wasn’t bad."
In fact, Anthony agreed and is looking forward to how he and Bargnani might improve playing together in the future.
"Me and 'B' had a great week, just playing together, spacing it out on the court, me trying to learn from him, him trying to learn from me, trying to see what spots he likes out there on the basketball court," Anthony said. "For the most part, he's actually a smart player; he can play off people."
The key to Bargnani's role with the Knicks is spacing. Not only should Bargnani open up the floor to give Anthony and Tyson Chandler more room to maneuver but he should also fill the space that Stoudemire has left void for much of his time in New York. That being said, he needs to stay healthy in order to do it.
The problem with Stoudemire and Anthony is that they attack defenses from mostly the same spots on the floor. Now, that doens't mean that they can't do some wonderful things together. However, putting one on the first squad and one on the second squad allows both to do what they do best.
While Stoudemire's lack of health hasn't been what the Knicks thought they were signing up for it ironically gave the Knicks the chance to bring Stoudemire off the bench. As it turns out, that move is probably best for both parties. Not only does it allow the Knicks to separate Stoudemire and Anthony, it also helped the team use him under his minutes limit.
Being in New York should also help Bargnani moving forward. First of all, he's no longer the focal point like he was in Toronto for years. Now he gets to be part of a large supporting cast surrounding Anthony as the main weapon. Additionally, contrary to what many critics has speculated, the presence of Stoudemire and Bargnani shouldn't hurt one anther but actually help both of them.
If Woodson follows through with his current plans, and with what many believe he'll do, and start Bargnani he'll be able to fill that starting void left by Stoudemire and allow Anthony to move back to his natural position of small forward. Plus, Stoudemire's presence should allow Woodson to keep Bargnani's minutes down in hopes of keeping him healthy.
In other words, Bargnani will keep Stoudemire's minutes down and Stoudemire will keep Bargnani's minutes down. That should help keep both healthy. Then when you look at the depth the Knicks have at power forward, any additional minutes needed or days off required to keep Bargnani and/or Stoudemire healthy should be easily handled.
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