New York Knicks: Who Should Start at Power Forward?


The story all offseason has been how the New York Knicks have a surplus guards but not enough forwards. Last season, the team found that they had the opposite problem when Carmelo Anthony made the move to a full time power forward. With Melo’s recent weight loss to supposedly make the transition back to small forward, the Knicks have found themselves with a shortage of power forwards.

To address this problem, Phil Jackson recently went out and traded one of his many guards, Wayne Ellington, for a young, energetic power forward Quincy Acy. The third year man out of Baylor joins Amar’e Stoudemire and possibly Jason Smith as the best options to start at power forward this season. Let’s take a look at each one of them and see who is the best option.


Quincy Acy

The newest Knick comes from Sacramento with not a tremendous amount of playing time over his young career. Acy is a bit undersized for the position at 6’7″ 233 lbs, but he makes up for his lack of size with hustle, tenacity, and strength. Obviously the reserve’s nightly numbers won’t impress anyone (averaging 2.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in just over 13 minutes per game), but if you look at his per 36 minutes numbers, people are able to see Acy’s possible value as a starter: 7.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game.

Acy wouldn’t be looked at as a scoring option most likely, so the fact that he doesn’t pose much of threat offensively shouldn’t be a problem. Where Acy impacts the game is the defensive side of the floor and rebounding the basketball. With a superstar scorer like Anthony devoting so much energy on offense, the Knicks will need someone to pick up the slack on defense and that is exactly what Acy can do.

The main problem with Acy as a starter is that he doesn’t have consistent minutes under his belt as an NBA player yet. Also, while Acy brings hustle and energy, he needs to prove that he can maintain that style of play for extended minutes before he assumes a role as the starting power forward. While Acy doesn’t necessarily fit the triangle offense profile for a big man (good mid range shooting and solid passing), there has always been a player on Jackson’s teams who contribute with mainly rebounds and inside scoring (see Dennis Rodman and Andrew Bynum). Obviously Rodman is the ceiling for Acy, but the two have very similar games and exact body types.

Amar’e Stoudemire

Yes I know I listed him in the piece on the Knicks starting options at center, but Stoudemire’s true position is power forward. STAT is an extremely talented player and deserves a look at both positions solely based on his offensive prowess.

Too many people feel Stoudemire is “washed up” or just plain old bad. Those people really need to do some research before making ludicrous statements like that. When the bizarre minutes restriction was lifted, Stoudemire went off. The more he played last season, the better he performed. Of course he’s not the same player he was when he signed with the Knicks, but he is still an above average NBA player. Take a look at his per 36 minutes statistics: 19.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1 block per game. Those numbers are better than Chris Bosh‘s who was playing with the most talented player in the NBA.

Stoudemire can score both inside and outside and does so rather efficiently. Last season, STAT shot 56% from the field while 57% of those shots were jump shots. Hitting 42% of his shots from 16-22 feet is a huge asset in the triangle offense as it helps his defender be honest and not have the ability to double off of Stoudemire. His low post moves worked extremely well for him last year, allowing him to shoot 68% inside of three feet and 50% from 3-10 feet.

Of course Stoudemire is not a good defender. He’s had countless knee surgeries and doesn’t move all that well laterally on defense. As a help defender, STAT does an OK job around the basket; recovery is where his problem is. Not switching on every pick this year should create less mismatches for Amar’e, which should help prevent him from getting burned away from the hoop.

Jason Smith

Another new face for the New York Knicks was brought in to help with frontcourt depth. Smith signed a one-year deal this summer so this season should be a good motivator for his next contract. What the seventh year man out of Colorado State brings to the table is similar to Acy: good defense, active rebounder, and a lot of energy.

Smith’s career has never really taken off due to a long medical history. He has had moments where he shows a lot of promise, but he can never really stay healthy for a full season. The PF/C has missed an average of 24.2 games per season in his first six years, and last year only played in 31 games due to knee surgery.

When Smith is healthy, he can certainly help the Knicks. The big man is a fantastic shooter from 16-22 feet; last year he took 61% of his shots from that distance and made 47.4% of them. His ability to hit deep two’s will stretch the floor for the Knicks and give them another solid pick and pop player.

In his 31 games last year, Smith averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and a block in 26.8 minutes per contest. Looking at his per 36 minutes statistics, Smith looks better at 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. It’s easy to see the potential is there; it is just a matter of whether or not Smith can stay healthy for a season.

Verdict

With Melo most likely going to play small forward, the Knicks have the ability of starting two true frontcourt players. With that in mind, it is best to go with one who will be an offensive force, and one that will be more defensive minded. Continuing the theme from the previous article, I believe Stoudemire is too good to not start at either center or power forward. The way to counteract his lack of defensive capability is by starting Jason Smith alongside him.

This duo gives the Knicks an offensive big man and a defensive big man to complement each other. Quincy Acy should increase his minutes this year, but he is certainly not ready to start. At 20 minutes a night, let him go all out and reward him with more time if he starts to outplay others. Samuel Dalembert can rotate in to help with defense, and Cole Aldrich will look excellent in a suit next to Kurt Rambis.

Center and power forward are virtually interchangeable in the triangle offense so whether it’s Stoudemire at C and Smith at PF or vice versa, they will play the exact same way. Smith is used to playing alongside another big man with Anthony Davis, so the two should work together just fine. Also, with last season’s trio of Tyson Chandler, STAT, and Melo, we saw that Stoudemire and Melo need a center who can be effective outside of the paint. This is why Smith is a better pairing with Melo and Stoudemire instead of Dalembert.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire Jason Smith New York Knicks Quincy Acy

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