Can Melo and Amar’e CoLincide with New York’s Newest Legend?

Posted: February 14, 2012 by ndbohlen in Knicks, NBA, Opinion
Tags: , ,

Nick: The Knicks, struggling all season long just to eke out a simple win, have now somehow ripped off a five straight wins without either the injured Carmelo Anthony or the grieving Amar’e Stoudemire. And by somehow, I mean the Knicks are now the proud owners of a five game Linning streak. In those five wins, newly crowned starting point guard and New York darLINg Jeremy Lin is averaging 26.8 points, 8.0 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game, with 2.0 steals to boot.

Mike: Here’s a surprise: Lin was named the Eastern Conference’s player of the week.

Nick: Break out the hyperbole: With those kind of numbers, he’s been like a poor man’s LeBron, only shorter, less muscular, and Linfinitely more Asian.

Mike: Hyperbole 2.0: Jeremy Lin is as good as Steve Nash. Therefore, when Amar’e returns, it’ll be just like the good old days. OK, maybe not. I agree with Jay Caspian King, the comparison between Lin and Nash has more to do with D’Antoni than with Lin.

Nick: Now Amar’e is set to return in Tuesday night’s game against the lowly Toronto Raptors, with Melo soon to follow this weekend. Lin will now have to share the spotlight and the basketball court with his higher-paid counterparts in the superstar department.

Do you think this will derail the newfound momentum the Knicks have built after five one-man show-stopping Lins? Or will the return of Amar’e and Melo only serve to Linhance the point guard’s playmaking skills at the head of Mike D’Antoni’s offense?

Mike: Amar’e happens to play incredibly well when he has a point guard who excels in the pick-and-roll. So as far as sports worrying goes, I’m going to let my high blood pressure take a break on that one. Even though Lin isn’t the prolific assist-producer that Rondo or Nash are. Lin happens to hold on to the ball quite a bit. But Amar’e is a big target and worthy one. OK, stop worrying, brain. I’ve had enough of you.

Nick: Sadly, I can do nothing to escalate your blood pressure further as payback for all of your snide comments about the past two Patriots Super Bowls. I agree, Lin will work well running the pick-and-roll with Amar’e. Of course, that’s provided Amar’e plays less like this year’s shell of player — with the worst shooting percentage of his career and the lowest scoring output since his rookie season — and more like the 2010 version of himself. If Stoudemire can knock down 15 foot jumpers, then they’ll be the best pairing since Batman and Robin. If not, oil and water.

Mike: Melo… that’s another story entirely. Melo has the great power to both Linhance Lin’s playmaking and completely destroy it. On the positive side, D’Antoni could tell Melo to stand 45 feet from the basket and a defender would be compelled to pay at least some attention to him. That leaves one less person for Lin to dribble through. Yay! Knicks win.

That said, in order to keep those defenses in fear of Melo, you have to actually give him the ball. Unless it’s the fourth quarter and I’m about to see some endgame Melo magic, I don’t think I want to see that.

Nick: My overthinking sports mind (wait, that was totally redundant – what else am I supposed to think about if not sports?) tells me the Knicks could struggle to integrate Lin and Anthony on offense. Both need to have the ball to truly be effective, and as you said, Lin isn’t the most accomplished passer outside of throwing it toward the rim for Tyson Chandler to clean up.

But my common sense tells me that Melo is too good a player not to be able to find a way to make it work. Without ballhandling responsibilities, and with the time off to heal some of those nagging injuries, I think Anthony will be truer to form as unofficial “best pure scorer in the league” (whatever that means).

Mike: God, how I wish I could agree with you. But the statement “Melo is too good a play not to be able to find a way to make it work,” has no truth to it. Melo should have been able to make something work, at least something that would give the Knicks a .500 record this year or overall since the trade, but his adjustments have been nominal at best.

Nick: I hear that argument, but Melo was asked to do too much before. With Lin now initiating the offense, Melo should have an easier time getting to his sweet spots 15 feet out on the wing, backing down his defender, and then going to work in isolation to make his man look silly. In theory.

Mike: Look, without Lin, the team’s leader in assists was Melo with 4.2 per game. There’s just no way this team doesn’t get better over the next week.

But if Amar’e and Melo come back and shit hits the fan… then what?

Nick: If Melo and Amar’e come back and cause serious Linjury to their team’s chances, one of two things will happen: New York will turn into Athens 2.0, violently rioting over how two overpaid babies derailed their precious savior and taking D’Antoni’s head as their payment in blood; OR the city will go back to being completely indifferent about a team they had already given up on before an overachieving (can you say Hahvahd?) Asian-American dropped in for his five minutes of fame under the MSG spotlight.

Mike: I might go rabid if Melo screws this up. So if you see me walking through the streets of New York frothing at the mouth, start taking samples of Will Smith’s blood for medical study.

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