Amar’e Cuts it Deep

Amar’e Stoudemire is selfish, uncontrollable, a detriment to the Knicks, and should be traded, without a doubt.  Actually, no, not really. While there’s a lot of hatred and animosity floating around after Amar’e judo-chopped a glass encasement surrounding a fire extinguisher, it’s all in ill faith.

Star athletes, specifically NBA players, are often criticized for not showing emotion and not getting fired-up enough. There’s too much hugs and smiles. So, for once in his career, Amar’e let his emotions boil-up a little too much. And now he’s being brutally beaten in the media. Was it a dumb move? Most certainly. Was it a get-him-out-of-town, never forgive him move? Not in the least.

He was pissed-off after he and his team got their asses handed to them for the second time. It was a split second decision. He didn’t sit down, think it through, and say, “Ah, fuck it, I don’t care about my team or its fans. Let me go ahead and still punch this glass here.” So for some to be stating that Amar’e’s punch is unforgivable, is just plain nonsense.

But this does bring to light, more than anything else, the frustrations the Knicks have been feeling. They finally have the big name superstars who can, and should, be leading them to a championship. But instead, they go through periods of complete ineffectiveness, and fail to get over the hump that every Knicks fan has been waiting to see this team overcome: Winning a playoff game.

Other people, like ESPN’s Israel Guttierez, are suggesting that the Amar’e-Melo duo simply doesn’t and will never work. That too, is incorrect. Just because both stars like to have the ball, does not mean they can’t effectively work together. The problem when Melo and Stoudemire are on the floor together, is a lack of movement off the ball. Watch any Knicks trip down the floor. One, maybe two passes, shot. Maybe you’ll see an on-ball screen every one in six trips on offense. But there are no backdoor cuts. No off-the-ball screens. No ball movement.

And it’s certainly not lack of talent. Amar’e, throughout his career, has thrived off the pick and roll. He’s a great athlete. He’s nearly unstoppable coming down the lane. When he and Melo run the pick and roll, they’re effective. The defense has to make a decision of who they want to stop, which means either Melo or Amar’e will have a great look.

But Melo also thrives in iso. For the nay-sayers, this is the team’s downfall. But it doesn’t have to be. You can still get Amar’e open with backdoor screens from Tyson Chandler, having him cut through the paint. If he doesn’t get open, rotate around. Have him set a screen to try and free a shooter, like JR Smith or Steve Novak. Just because Melo likes to survey the court in an iso situation, does not mean the four other players on the court need to be stationary.

Here’s a sample of a way they can get movement off the ball, while still keeping Melo in an iso set-up:

The ball goes to Melo in the mid-range, wing area. Chandler, on the opposite block, sets a screen for Amar'e, who cuts downs the lane.

 

If Amar'e doesn't get the ball, he sets a high screen for Fields, who's on the opposite wing/three-point area. Fields cuts to the basket. Baron Davis rotates and replaces Fields.

If Fields doesn't get the ball, he floats back up top, replacing Davis. Chandler drops back down to the block, and is replaced by Amar'e at the top of the key/opposite elbow. Melo is still isolated, allowing him to either work off the dribble, pass to any of the cutters, or shoot a mid-range jumper.

So people shouldn’t take this punch hear ‘round the world as a detrimental blow to the Knicks, or Amar’e himself. They should take it as a sign they need to work things out, smooth over the frustrations, bottle up that intensity, and unleash on the court.

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