Lin or Amare?
GREAT SCORERS NEED GREAT PASSERS
The Knicks need more consistent secondary scoring to help out Carmelo Anthony.
While Amare Stoudemire can provide that, there is a greater benefit to having Jeremy Lin on the court.
It comes down to this: While STAT is a superb isolation scorer, his effectiveness is based on how point guards set him up, feeding him off the pick-and-roll and delivering him the ball in his sweet spot -- the midrange -- so he can shoot his patented jumper.
On the flip side, Lin can help the four other players on the court with his pick-and-roll playmaking and passing, including Stoudemire and even Anthony.
While some critics say that Lin's return will disrupt Anthony's recent scoring prowess (exactly 30 points per game since March 26), great scorers always need great passers. Also, Anthony would be foolish not to realize that Lin can bring two additional elements to the offense: boosting the interior games of Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, and facilitating quicker ball movement that will find spot-up shooters.
That's why the Knicks are currently missing Lin more than Stoudemire.
Right now, the Knicks have solid secondary scorers in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert and a sharpshooter in Steve Novak.
The bigger issue is that the hobbled Baron Davis isn't putting enough pressure on defenses to get guys open shots or lanes to drive to the basket. Without that, the Knicks settled for too many 3-pointers down the stretch against the Heat on Sunday, which led to a 93-85 loss. After the game, Mike Woodson and the players complained about pace and penetration. The Knicks rarely went to the free throw line. When the playoffs become more of a grind-it-out style, drawing fouls will be essential to getting teams in the bonus.
That's where Lin can help out, by providing an extra punch late in games that can benefit the team's ability to score from outside and inside. Defensively, the Knicks haven't had a problem since Woodson took over as interim coach March 14. Since then, they've been holding opponents to 89.1 points per game -- the third-best mark in the league during that span.
Where the Knicks need the most treatment is with team offense, and Lin is the best medicine for that.
STAT IS A BETTER FIT
Amare Stoudemire was having one of the worst offensive seasons of his career before he went down with a back injury. Jeremy Lin, on the other hand, was the driving force behind the Knicks' offense before he was sidelined by a torn meniscus.
So why would the Knicks miss Stoudemire more than Lin right now?
Because Carmelo Anthony needs a sidekick, and Stoudemire is a better fit for that role than Lin.
Of course, there's no way to tell if Stoudemire can return at close to 100 percent after he's missed three weeks due to a bulging disk in his lower back.
And he was struggling mightily with his shot for most of the season.
But he'd be a better fit for this team right now than Lin.
Lin likes to run an offense based on spacing, ball movement and pushing the tempo. As well as it worked earlier in the season, the Knicks have strayed from that since Lin and Stoudemire went down with injuries.
Now, they run isolation sets for Anthony and get him the ball in the mid post -- two things that weren't happening with much frequency when Lin was in the lineup.
So Lin's return may force Mike Woodson to alter his approach on offense. That's not what the Knicks need right now. They really need a scorer to complement Anthony, who's averaged 33 points per game on 53 percent shooting since Lin and Stoudemire went down on March 24.
Those numbers are tremendous, but no one has stepped up as a consistent option behind Anthony. On some nights the Knicks have gotten offense from J.R. Smith. On other nights it's been Iman Shumpert. But neither player has done it on a nightly basis.
A healthy Stoudemire can fill that void.
Sure, he wasn't playing the best basketball of his career this season. And, historically, he hasn't been able to thrive while sharing the floor with Anthony.
But before he went down with the back ailment, Stoudemire seemed to be turning a corner, averaging 18 points on 57 percent shooting in the five games before his injury.
If the Knicks can get that Stoudemire back, they'd solve a big problem on offense. And they'd be a much stronger team.