Here’s what I think as it relates to Carmelo Anthony coming back into the rotation.
The Knicks will actually lose some games.
I know, I know, I went on a limb there considering no one expects this exhausted group of Knicks to go undefeated for the rest of the season, but this is what I believe will be the case moving forward.
Amar’e Stoudemire appears to be coming back to the lineup Tuesday. This gives him the chance to get some pick and roll reps with Lin. This allows for the classic D’Antoni system to continue and moves Jared Jeffries to the bench where he can rotate with Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. We talked about Jeffries’ role at the 5 with Stoudemire and watching him knock down corner jumpers yesterday, to me, means that (if fans don’t boo him while he’s pulling the trigger) Stoudmire will have the lane to catch and finish the way he’s been doing his whole career. I expect Amar’e to fit like a perfect piece.
So that leaves Melo. If Amar’e replaces Jeffries as the screen/roller then Melo replaces Bill Walker. What we’ve seen from Walker in these 5 games is a player who has rotated with Novak and Fields at the 3 spot. Walker has struggled because he’s not taking the ball to the rim because he’s settled for three pointers. 5 of his 7.5 shots per game have come behind the arc during the Lin Era. Novak has been solid, but he’s a catch/shooter who is playing at a high level right now. He’s been Shawne Williams but is canning threes at a 51% clip and is making 4 every night.
But where does Novak, who has to play, fit in this moving forward? He’s getting 25 minutes per game. You’d think Walker moves back to the bench and Melo’s return takes minutes away from Landry Fields who has done well with Shumpert and Lin, while playing the 3. But let’s focus on Novak, whose ability to stretch the floor is critical to spacing.
When talking about the second unit I would go with Chandler or Jeffries at the 5, Novak at the 4, Melo, Shumpert and Lin. Then bring Amar’e in for Melo for stretches before finishing the first half with the starting 5- Lin, Fields, Melo, Amar’e and Chandler.
The point being, Melo’s entrance means he has to start on the perimeter, facing the basket, in the same fashion that Novak and Walker do when the are in the game. Posting up Melo gets the ball out of Lin’s hands too soon in the shot clock and negates the pick and roll. If the defense adjusts and the shot clock runs down then you utilize Melo in the post like we mentioned the Celtics do with Paul Pierce. Or just run specific sets for him allowing him to draw double teams.
Melo is a special offensive player. He can score from anywhere and should be able to score in any system. Now that Amar’e has his PG to run pick and roll, the two of them should be able to play together, but D’Antoni has to make sure each gets featured separately so they can each get into proper rhythm as the game progresses.
I will say this. You will know who the next coach of this team is by how well Melo blends in.
That is a fact.
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