When word came down that Amar’e Stoudemire was going to be out with a sprained ankle, there were two questions most Knicks fans asked themselves—when will Amar’e be back? And who is going to play all of his minutes?
We will deal with the second question first as we got our answer on Saturday against the Sacramento Kings. Mike D’Antoni made the decision to start rookie Josh Harrellson, a potentially controversial decision given Jorts’ lack of experience and D’Antoni’s other options which would have allowed the Knicks to play small ball—a type of basketball that Coach D’Antoni has become infamous for utilizing in his game plans.
Despite the nature of the decision, Josh Harrellson’s play did more than enough to vindicate D’Antoni call to start the rookie; in the end Harrellson finished with an impressive line of 14 points which included 4 three pointers on 50% shooting from behind the arc to go along with 12 rebounds and a steal.
More impressive than just his stat line, was his defensive effort. Harrellson made a noticeable impact both individually as well as on rotations for this New York Knick defense. Granted, it was only one game against an enigmatic team in the Sacramento Kings but Jorts certainly showed he potentially has what it takes to make a difference for this team defensively and on the boards.
Defense, along with point guard play, has been a big issue for the Knicks so far this season, and being able to shore up that defense by playing Harrellson increased minutes may be a difficult decision that D’Antoni has to make in order to ensure that his job remains safe.
Now, this brings us back to the first question: when will Amar’e be back? The answer Knicks fans should be hoping for might not be the answer you were originally expecting.