The New York Knicks have announced that Amar’e Stoudemire is expected to miss between 6-8 weeks due to knee surgery but how much of a blow will this be?
Even before the announcement was made Tyson Chandler claimed there is more to the Knicks than Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire and the 2013 All-Star could be half-right with that statement in terms of form on the court.
The New York franchise made a storming start to their 2012-13 campaign with a 21-9 record through November and December before a slump in form in the new year which coincided with the return of Stoudemire.
‘STAT’ made his return on New Year’s Day and played in just 29 games before another knee problem surfaced. The 6x All-Star averaged his lowest points total (14.2) since his rookie season for Phoenix Suns without counting the 2005-06 campaign when Stoudemire featured in just three games after undergoing microfracture surgery.
That’s not to say that 30 year-old has not been playing well because the Knicks have been cautious with his return and Stoudemire has not started a game this season but still managed to post 20+ points in a game on six occasions. The days of an occasional 3-pointer seem to have gone with the adapted role and his physical presence inside has seen a shooting percentage of 57.7 from the field.
However, when it comes to the play-offs, it’s important to have efficient squad depth and this period without Amar’e could work as a benefit for the Knicks as they utilise their fringe players while JR Smith will see his role off the bench increase. The likes of Kenyon Martin, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby will be expected to step up with an increase in their court-time.
One thing is for sure; head-coach Mike Woodson will want ‘Melo’ back playing as soon as possible because being second in the scoring charts around the likes of KD, LeBron and Kobe is no mean feat. Anthony has taken the game-high honours in 35 games so far this season which is an incredible achievement having played in a total of 50.
The Knicks do have other scoring options even without ‘Melo’ and ‘STAT’ with Smith showing his capability with a 36 point showing against OKC Thunder while Ray Felton top scored in the recent win against Utah. Chandler dominates the glass more often than not and their potency extends beyond the arc with Jason Kidd and Foot Locker 3-Point contestant Steve Novak dangers from long range.
The lead up to the play-offs will be an interesting period for New York as they jostle for position with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern conference whilst looking to build some momentum ahead of the post-season. They are currently on course to emulate if not beat their 3rd place conference finish back in 2000 which was also the last time they progressed beyond the first round in the play-offs before falling to the Pacers in the Eastern final.
If ‘Melo’ hits the ground running on his return then the Knicks should be in a good position come the time of the play-offs with an adaptable roster all stepping up to the plate awaiting the return of Amar’e to boost their hopes for a first NBA Championship since 1973.