Monday, July 1, 2013
Weigh in: Who's your power forward?
By Ian Begley
The Knicks' trade for Toronto big man Andrea Bargnani raises more than a few questions about next season.
Among them: Who starts at power forward next fall?
Among Mike Woodson's options at power forward are Bargnani, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Woodson will have to be delicate with his choice here, because the decision will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the roster.
ANTHONY: Woodson started Anthony at power forward for most of last season and it resulted in one of the best seasons of Anthony's career. Taking advantage of bigger, slower defenders off the dribble or posting up smaller ones, Anthony torched opponents to the tune of 28.7 points per game. He led the NBA in scoring and helped lead the Knicks to 54 wins and a division title. Many assumed that the Knicks' decision to draft Tim Hardaway Jr. was a sign that Anthony would remain at power forward in 2013-14, but the Bargnani acquisition has raised some doubt there. If Anthony starts at power forward, that means both Stoudemire and Bargnani will come off the bench, unless the Knicks execute a trade of Tyson Chandler.
BARGNANI: With Bargnani a threat to shoot from the perimeter, the Knicks could, in theory, force one of the opponent's big men outside of the paint and open up space near the rim for Anthony and perimeter players to attack if they started the Italian at power forward. In addition to being a screener on pick-and-pops, Bargnani could also plant himself on the perimeter as others run pick and rolls, thereby forcing defenses to commit a defender to the perimeter and leaving them vulnerable inside. One aspect to consider when starting Bargnani: he leaves a lot to be desired as a defender and rebounder. Also, playing Bargnani at power forward would force Anthony back to small forward. This would take away some of the mismatches that were created with Anthony at power forward. It would also create a bit of a logjam for Iman Shumpert, Hardaway Jr., J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland at small forward and shooting guard (if Smith and Copeland re-sign).
STOUDEMIRE: Stoudemire seemed upset about his lack of playing time in the postseason. After the Knicks' season-ending loss to Indiana, Amar'e said he wanted meet with Woodson to talk about his role. The assumption is that Stoudemire will be looking for more playing time next season and, maybe, a starting role. Given Stoudemire and Anthony's sub-.500 record in Anthony's first 2 1/2 seasons in New York and Stoudemire's defensive struggles, it seems like a longshot that Amar'e will end up as the starting power forward. So Woodson will have to be delicate with Stoudemire if and when he chooses to bring him off the bench. Amar'e was diplomatic about coming off the bench last season, but it's hard to see him not being disappointed if he's forced to come off the bench next year.
Question: If you were Mike Woodson, who would you start at power forward next season?