The Knicks are off to a perfect start this year. They’re 4-0 and have won all four games by double-digits against teams that are collectively 13-3 against the rest of the league.
But this is all happening without Amar’e Stoudemire, and the Knicks’ season hinges on how coach Mike Woodson uses him once he gets back from injury.
This NBA.com chart breaks down Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire’s stats last year with and without each other on the court. The red numbers indicate a 10% or greater dip in average performance, and the green numbers indicate a 10% or greater rise in average performance. As you can see, it’s almost all red for both players when they are both on the court, and almost all green when one of them is on the bench:
When you look at Anthony’s stats this year, they are almost identical to that third line (without Amar’e). He’s averaging 27.4 points per 36 minutes, 7.3 rebounds, 21.1 field goal attempts, and 44% shooting.
That’s insanely similar to the 27.8/7.2/21.2/45% he averaged without Amar’e on the floor last year.
The stats make it abundantly clear that Woodson should stagger Carmelo and Amar’e’s minutes, and ideally bring Amar’e off the bench. But statistics and logic aren’t always the deciding factors in decisions like these, and the ~$62 million Amar’e is still owed might keep him in the starting lineup despite overwhelming evidence that he shouldn’t be.
The Knicks are deep and Anthony gives them a puncher’s chance in any playoff series. But their season rests on whether or not they’ll ignore salary and bring Amar’e off the bench, and that’s a scary proposition.
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