Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Will the Knicks miss Amar’e Stoudemire?
Steve Aschburner: Replacing Stoudemire’s 14.2 ppg and 5.0 rpg is a challenge. But the Knicks already have plenty of experience plugging those holes — he has missed 32 of their 61 games to this point, and their record without him (22-10) is better than when he played (16-13). Getting and keeping Carmelo Anthony healthy (right knee) is way more important to any Knicks’ postseason run than Stoudemire’s part-time contributions.
Fran Blinebury: Since their 18-5 start (Dec. 15) that was built in large part on their success with the 3-ball, the Knicks are a thoroughly mediocre 20-18 . Yes, I believe they can continue to be so without Amar’e.
Jeff Caplan: Yeah the Knicks are gonna miss Amar’e. Who wouldn’t miss a 6-foot-11 guy who shoots 55.7 percent from the floor and averages 14.2 ppg and 5.0 rpg in 23.5 mpg off the bench? Sure, the Knicks had success without Amar’e, but that was at the beginning of the season when this old roster was fresh. It’s mid-March now and the Knicks have a brutal month ahead with four more back-to-backs over the next 19 days. So spare me that Carmelo Anthony can now play power forward full time and that will be all good for New York. The Knicks need bodies to get through this month without yielding homecourt advantage in the first round. And Amar’e is just one more big body they won’t have.
Scott Howard-Cooper: He will be missed. The Knicks finish with a lot of road games, which means a taxing schedule, which means depth is especially important. They’re now in a stretch of eight games in 13 days at a time when New York is in a bunched group in the Eastern Conference standings. A bad week can have playoff implications. Now, the Knicks will have to go without one of its best inside threats and a player who seemed to have accepted a reserve role.
John Schuhmann: Not really. He just hasn’t been a difference-maker since Carmelo Anthony came to New York. Stoudemire is an all-offense, no-defense player and when he made his season-debut on Jan. 1, the Knicks already ranked second in offensive efficiency. In the two-plus months he was healthy, they were better offensively and worse defensively with him on the floor. Overall, they were plus-3.0 points per 100 possessions over those 29 games whether he was in the game or not, and they were a minus-29 with Stoudemire and Anthony on the floor together. If New York is going to win a playoff series for the first time in 13 years, it will need to play solid defense and make its threes. And it can probably do both of those things better without Stoudemire.
Sekou Smith: Absolutely. They’ll miss him more come playoff time than they will down the stretch of the regular season. The Knicks with Amar’e coming off the bench had a chance to make some noise in the postseason. Without him, the Knicks aren’t nearly as formidable. It should be noted that earlier this season, when they were rolling without Amar’e, they were also knocking down 3-point shots at an outlandish clip. In the absence of such work from distance, Amar’e being out of the lineup is a huge and potentially devastating blow to the Knicks’ chances of playing deep into the playoffs.