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Monday, August 4, 2014
Position analysis: Power forward

By Ian Begley

Amare Stoudemire
Derek Fisher will have key decisions to make about Amar'e Stoudemire and his power forwards.
Now that free agency has died down, we’re taking a look at where the New York Knicks currently stand, position by position. Today, we look at power forward.

POWER FORWARD

New additions: None

Returning/on roster: Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Carmelo Anthony, Jeremy Tyler (Tyler is considered a PF/C; the Knicks have a team option on Tyler for next season that they have not yet exercised.)

Gone: Metta World Peace, Kenyon Martin (provided that the Knicks decide not to re-sign Martin)

The starter: That depends on whether Derek Fisher decides to go with a big frontline or not. If Fisher wants to go big, he could start Stoudemire or Bargnani at power forward next to Anthony at small forward and Jason Smith or Samuel Dalembert at center.

If he wants to go with a smaller starting lineup, Fisher can play Anthony at power forward, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr. or Iman Shumpert at small forward and Smith or Dalembert at center. This would leave Fisher with the task of diving bench minutes between Bargnani and Stoudemire.

One stat worth noting when thinking about the Knicks' big lineup and Barngani: When Carmelo and Bargnani shared the floor together last season, the Knicks were outscored by 3.9 points per 100 possessions.

The wild card: Stoudemire. For the first time in three summers, Stoudemire is fully healthy. He isn't rehabbing a nagging back injury or working his way back from a knee procedure. If Stoudemire can stay healthy between now and the beginning of the season, it's fair to expect strong production from the 12-year veteran, who is entering the final year of his five-year, $100 million contract.

Stoudemire finished last season in strong fashion, averaging 16.1 points on 57 percent shooting in the final 20 games. Stoudemire started all of those 20 games, evidence that it may be worth giving Stoudemire a look in the starting five this season.

Outlook: This will be one of the most interesting decisions Fisher makes during training camp. Does he want to play a smaller lineup, one that may give Anthony an opportunity to use his quickness against bigger, slower defenders? Or will he go with a bigger lineup, one that may give the Knicks a better chance to compete on the boards?

These decisions will have a big impact on who Fisher uses at power forward. If he chooses to go small and put Anthony at power forward, the seven-time All Star has shown that he can thrive at the position.

Per 82games.com research, Anthony posted a 27.1 player efficiency rating (a per-minute measure of a player's production) at power forward last season, five points higher than the PER he posted at small forward.

But if Fisher decides to use Anthony at power forward in his starting lineup, will that limit time for Stoudemire and Bargnani? Fisher could play one of the two players at center alongside Anthony at power forward, but it's fair to wonder how such a lineup would fair on defense.

If Fisher uses Anthony at power forward and chooses to bring Stoudemire and Bargnani off of the bench, it will be interesting to see how he splits minutes between the two highly-paid forwards. Of course, both Stoudemire and Bargnani figure to be available on the trade market throughout the season, so Fisher may not have to deal with the Stoudemire-Bargnani conundrum for long.

Question: How would you use Stoudemire and Bargnani this coming season if you were Derek Fisher?

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