The question of whether Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire can coexist is multifaceted. When considering if they can you he to consider if they should
The New York Knicks moved to a “small ball” lineup this year playing Carmelo Anthony at the power forward and spacing the floor. This allowed Anthony to have room to work with and also for the ball handler to run pick-and-rolls with Chandler without any extra defenders hanging around in the area.
Most NBA fans know by now that Chandler doesn’t really have a low post game. You can’t lob him the ball with his back to the basket and tell him to go to work. What he is though is a fantastic pick-and roll-player (he also affects the offense in so many ways that aren’t obvious like his great screens rebound tip outs, drawing in defenders, etc.).
Dating back to his days with Chris Paul back in New Orleans, if the offense can get Chandler on a pick-and-roll at the basket it is very likely that offense’s best shot available. Chandler has a career field goal percentage of 58.4 percent, but the last three years has posted numbers of 65.4, 67.9, and 63.8 percent from the floor.
When a starter with no discernible shot creating ability shoots that well it is because he knows what he does best. This is where Stoudemire comes into play.
The days of Stoudemire being a lethal midrange jump shooter are probably gone. This past year, in limited play, he barely took any jump shots at all and last year he was below average, including shooting 9-for-47 (19.15 percent) from around that right elbow area.
This leaves Stoudemire to his other major strength as an offensive player, pick-and-rolls. STAT and Steve Nash destroyed the league on pick-and-rolls for years in Phoenix. Nash’s impeccable passing ability and intelligence mixed with Stoudemire’s overwhelming athleticism and the Phoenix shooters spreading the floor, teams had no real answer when the Suns ran this play.
STAT had good success with Raymond Felton running it before the Anthony trade but since then has become a slightly above average shooter in that restricted area. Since his jump shooting days are likely behind him (his knees are not likely to just get healthy for next year. Doctors warned both the Suns and the Knicks his knees would deteriorate after the third year of this contract or where we are now) Stoudemire needs to be fed the ball in the paint.
It is where he is most effective and where he can draw in defenders allowing the ball handler to dish to an open shooter. Having two players whose offensive strengths are doing basically the same things (I would argue Chandler has a bigger offensive impact than Stoudemire), especially when those things need to be done in or around the paint can be problematic.
When the Knicks play both Stoudemire and Chandler not only do their overlapping skills not mesh well offensively but they also eliminate the ability to space the floor. The majority of the Knicks most successful lineups consist of Chandler, Anthony, and three shooters to give Anthony room to work with.
The Knicks most successful lineup in the regular season, Felton, Kidd, J.R. Smith, Anthony, and Chandler, outscored opponents by 26.9 points per 100 possessions in 269 minutes. Anthony embraced his role as a power forward and was able to torch bigger, slower defenders to get much better shots. As a power forward this year Anthony had a higher PER (24.8 to 21.8), shot better (.508 efg to .492), and the team performed better (+5.9 per 48 minutes to +3.9). This has to be taken into account when considering the potential Chandler-STAT tandem.
What also needs to be taken into account is Stoudemire’s defense.
Knicks fans know by now that at best Stoudemire is a bad defender. He was decent at coming over from the weak side and blocking some shots but he can’t even do that anymore. He has turned even marginal players, such as Tyler Hansbrough, into scoring machines with his total inability to defend.
The Knicks all year were a slightly below average defensive team, finishing 18th in defensive rating. Chandler has enough on his plate cleaning up the mess that players in front of him (other than Shumpert) create for him defensively and doesn’t need quite possibly the worst defender in the NBA making things worse.
In short I am not opposed for creating a role for Stoudemire. He can be a very valuable bench player. He still has the offensive capabilities to overwhelm most backup centers, which would provide much needed relief for Anthony and Chandler during games.
I do not, however, believe Stoudemire meshes well with the Knicks starting lineup and especially with either Anthony or Chandler.
Luckily he only has two years and about $45 million left on his contract so he won’t be an overpaid bench player or anything.