Health a major concern for Amar’e Stoudemire & Andrea Bargnani

Harris Decker

Mike Woodson has made one thing crystal clear in the opening days of training camp. There are two spots in the starting rotation up for grabs. While Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are secure, there is room for one more guard and one more forward heading into the regular season.

Amar'e Stoudemire

With the rumored shift of Anthony to small forward, the question becomes; who do you trust more as a big man; Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani. Both have impressive stat sheets. They are both viable scoring options and bring completely different styles to the table. Stoudemire will play within 15-feet of the basket while Bargnani has the ability to post up outside the arc and drain shots.

Undoubtedly, the question over who is better relies heavily on the health of both players. Stoudemire has played in just 76 games (out of a possible 148) over the past two seasons and his health has come in short spurts. Heading into the season, there is already doubt swirling about the status of Stoudemire’s knee, which underwent a minor surgery in July. Early reports indicate that he may miss the start of the season.

On the other side of this argument, Bargnani hasn’t stayed much healthier. As one of the primary scorers on the Toronto Raptors, he played in just 66 games (out of 148) over the past two seasons. He missed the final third of last season with an elbow injury and hasn’t played a full season in the NBA since 2009-2010.

As a Knicks fan, it is easy to call Stoudemire unreliable but the numbers speak for themselves. Amar’e has played in more games than Bargnani over the past few seasons and when healthy, he is the deadlier scorer. If they are both healthy, Stoudemire stands out as the better player but it remains to be seen if Woodson feels Bargnani will spread the floor better for Carmelo Anthony.

Of course, all of this is assuming that Anthony reverts back to playing small forward in an attempt to increase the overall size of the starting five. If Anthony remains at power forward, then the battle shifts to Metta World-Peace, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr., fighting over those two remaining spots. I’ll save that for another day.