The big knock on Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire back in 2010-11 when the New York Knicks acquired both of them was that they couldn’t play together. Melo was too much of a “ball hog” and Stoudemire needed a true point guard to really be successful. For the better part of three years, these were fair criticisms. When they were on the floor together, offensive efficiency dropped and neither of them looked comfortable playing with one another.
The Knicks thought they had the answer a season ago, bringing Amare off of the bench after struggling the whole year with injuries, and was very effective. He averaged 14 points a game in 29 games and never started a single game. Melo and Stoudemire never played together in these spurts either.
After failed attempts at a big lineup this year with Andrea Bargnani starting, and then minimal success with the small lineup that worked well last year, Mike Woodson was forced to start Stoudemire alongside Anthony for a scoring punch that the Knicks had lacked for a while.
The Knicks have showed some life as they are 4-1 since Stoudemire has joined the starting lineup, looking in part like the player that was the big splash in free agency in 2010 when he averaged 25 points a game.
Don’t get me wrong, Amare still doesn’t play a whole lot of defense, but it looks like he still has some bounce left in his legs with some rim-rattling dunks in some of his previous games. He has averaged 18 points a game on an average of 28 minutes a game, a far cry from when he was playing in 5-7 minutes spurts when he was on the mend from injury.
Carmelo has also flourished playing along Stoudemire, finding him on occasion and averaging nearly five assists a game in games that Stoudemire starts. This total is above Melo’s average of 3.1 assists on the year and could be the formula for the Knicks going forward.
Having Tyson Chandler is key to this unit’s defensive effectiveness because Stoudemire has played better defensively, but can still be a liability on the boards and on help defense.
That said, five games is a small sample size. If the Knicks want to continue to win games and make the playoffs (they are currently 3.5 games out of the eighth seed), they need to continue putting this lineup with Stoudemire and Melo out there every night because it gives them the best chance to win games.