New York Knicks: Who should start at center?

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The season is still three months away but there are plenty of questions that need answering with this New York Knicks roster.

One situation that needs sorting out is who Derek Fisher will go with as his starting center. For the past three years, former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler was roaming the paint as the Knicks’ most reliable big man.

With Chandler no longer in the fold, the team’s top options at center are Amar’e StoudemireSamuel Dalembert, and Andrea Bargnani.

Let’s take a look at each player and how they can impact the game if they are chosen as the starter.

Samuel Dalembert:

The newly acquired center is coming over from the Mavericks a reputation of being a good defender and solid rebounder. His offensive game never quite developed, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the Knicks already have plenty of offensive options.

This past season, Dalembert only played 20.2 minutes a game, a similar role I’d imagine he’ll play with the Knicks, and he was productive in his time on the court.

The center averaged 6.6 points on 57% shooting, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Obviously his numbers won’t wow you, but that’s not what he was brought in to do. The only concern about Dalembert’s game is his lack of passing ability and his struggle to hit jumpshots outside the paint.

In the triangle offense, typically the center is a very good passer and can hit the mid range jump shot pretty routinely (with the exception of Shaq because he could just score anytime he wanted to).

Amar’e Stoudemire:

STAT was once one of the most dynamic centers in the league. He signed a $100 million contract with the Knicks to play center back in 2010, so why not give him a shot. Phil Jackson said this summer that he viewed Stoudemire more as a center than anything else, while in the past he has gone on record as saying the STAT-Melo pairing is “clumsy.”

Right now, it is he and Fisher’s job to find a way to allow that duo to flourish, and I believe the triangle offense will do just that.

While Stoudemire lacks good on ball defense, he is a solid help defender around the rim. The Knicks will be playing a much different style of defense, a more team oriented defense versus one on one with no true rotations, which will hide some players’ defensive deficiencies.

Offensively, STAT was a lot better than people thought last year. While he played in a diminished role, Stoudemire was shockingly efficient when he was on the floor. His per 36 numbers were 19 points and 7.9 rebounds on 56% shooting. A true shooting percentage of 60% made him a serious weapon for the Knicks off the bench last year, especially when he was released from the absurd minutes restrictions.

Stoudemire has really improved his mid range game the past few years to the point where he can be a reliable shooter. STAT took 23% of his shots from 3-10 feet and made 50% of them, while also taking 26% of his shots between 16 feet and downtown, making 42%. Of course his strength is still around the hoop shooting 68% from inside 3 feet where he took 43% of his shots.

As a passer, Amar’e is not what you would call a “bad passer” more so than a “reluctant passer.” With a more balanced attack versus pass to Melo and see what he does with it, Stoudemire will benefit as a passer knowing he will have more space to operate and also might actually get the ball back. Yes, he has been hurt, but don’t forget how he was the human highlight real two years ago.

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