Jan 13, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Phoenix Suns power forward Markieff Morris (11) grabs a rebound between New York Knicks power forward Amar
Despite rumors popping up at different times during the summer, it looks like the New York Knicks will end up keeping both Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. Last season both dealt with injury issues, most notably Bargnani missing the last 40 games of the season with an elbow injury. Many wondered last year how the two would coexist, not because of similar play styles but because of similar strengths and faults.
By now it’s depressingly obvious that the Knicks are not a good defensive team. That doesn’t preclude them from improving in the near future, but as currently constituted, the Knicks will have a harder time stopping opponents than they will of J.R. Smith taking ill-advised shots.
The Knicks poor play on the defensive end is precisely why playing time for both Stoudemire and Bargnani may be an issue. Last year neither player came even close to contributing positively on the defensive end, to the point that opponents would just go at them or run pick and rolls on them until Mike Woodson took them out.
It’s not that either guy is unplayable, but rather the Knicks last year weren’t really good enough at anything to overcome any glaring weaknesses. This year the team hopes to mitigate that with the triangle offense and a more sound defensive strategy, but whether or not that alleviates the issue is remained to be seen.
Despite being extremely effective there, Carmelo Anthony has in the past voiced his issues with playing power forward and has reportedly lost some weight this summer. These two things will surely get him back to his desired small forward more this season.
The Knicks then have Bargnani, Stoudemire, and Quicy Acy as the power forwards. Jason Smith could play power forward, but I don’t know if anyone is ready to give Cole Aldrich the responsibility of being the backup center.
While both STAT and Bargnani may see considerable playing time because of the roster needs, the Knicks need to look into if that is the way they want to go. Trading either player for contracts beyond this season isn’t particularly wise, especially if the players coming back aren’t very good. But when you have two defensively challenged power forwards on a team desperate for height, something has to change.
That is partly why the Knicks traded for Acy and Travis Outlaw. Both players can play power forward when needed, allowing Anthony to stay where he is comfortable, and to add bodies to a questionable front court.
Samuel Dalembert should be a decent center this season, but he doesn’t have that ability to clean up other players messes on defense like Tyson Chandler did. He’s a good defensive center, but Chandler at times was actively defending multiple positions. This means the forwards and guards must do their job to at least slow their men down.
That puts the onus on Iman Shumpert to find his rookie year form, when he at times was a suffocating defender, but it also means that the big men need to have some rim protection. On paper the Knicks have some of that with Dalembert, but with him on the back end of his career, Stoudemire and Bargnani either need to start playing defense or the Knicks may have to find someone who will.