Checking In on Amar'e Stoudemire

Stoudemire's return hasn't brought the expected problems

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013  |  Updated 7:31 PM EDT
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Checking In on Amar'e Stoudemire

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It hasn't been all smiles for Stoudemire on the defensive end.

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Ever since Carmelo Anthony arrived in town, the Knicks have been faced with questions about how they'd be able to make things mesh between him and Amar'e Stoudemire. 

Those questions were as pressing as ever this season. Things didn't go well in Anthony's first year with the Knicks and got even worse last year when Tyson Chandler was thrown into the frontcourt fray. 

Lineups featuring the big three were stunningly unproductive last season with each player seeming to get in the other's way a lot more often than they were able to facilitate winning basketball. With Stoudemire missing the first two months of this season, the fear was that the Knicks wouldn't ever get on track offensively. 

It's only been nine games, but the results on the offensive front is a lot better than you might expect. Stoudemire has played the most minutes in a lineup including Anthony, Chandler, Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith and that lineup has been above-average offensively in their brief time together. 

Stoudemire hasn't been scoring in exactly the same ways that he did in the past, but he's been effective enough to be a viable frontcourt option even when the other two big names are in the lineup. One would imagine that there should be a bit more of the old stuff once Raymond Felton returns to run the pick and roll, but the offense isn't the big deal. 

The big deal is the oft-ignored fact that the Knicks simply don't defend or rebound well enough when Stoudemire is on the floor. That's a much bigger concern than the offensive fit at the moment. 

When Stoudemire's played with that lineup, the Knicks' rebounding drops below an acceptable level and it is even worse when Stoudemire is on the floor without Chandler. That makes it very difficult to use Stoudemire for even limited minutes as the center unless he's scoring at a tremendous rate on the other end of the floor. 

That, in turn, means a choice for Mike Woodson between playing Anthony where he's been successful at the four or wedging Stoudemire into the lineup when it isn't clear that the Knicks are a better team for having him in there. With more than half a season still to play, no conclusions can be drawn although it is hard to believe that we're going to suddenly see Stoudemire turn things around as a defender or rebounder. 

If anything sinks Stoudemire in New York, that's going to be it. And, for now, the ship's still taking on water. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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