Amar'e Stoudemire managed to score 21 points in yesterday's win over the Celtics, but it sure seemed like he didn't see much of the ball. Indeed, as Zach Lowe points out, Stoudemire's usage rate yesterday was uncharacteristically low:
To wit: On Sunday, Stoudemire used just 18.1 percent of New York’s possessions with either a shot, drawn foul or turnover. That’s very low for a star. If a team distributed its possessions equally among all five guys on the court, each would post a usage rate of 20 percent; stars routinely crack 30 percent in individual games, and Stoudemire’s career average is about 27 percent. Stoudemire posted a usage rate higher than 18.1 in 77 of the 78 games he played last season; his usage rate was 18.0 in the other game.
Lowe notes that Carmelo Anthony's usage (38.9 percent) against Boston's sub-par wing defenders was the team high, but I'd name Toney Douglas as the guy using more than his fair share of the offense. Douglas used 28.5 percent of the Knicks' possessions while he was on the floor and launched eight more shot attempts (but two less free throw attempts) than Stoudemire in the process.
As Lowe mentions, and as we discussed yesterday, Tyson Chandler did most of the screen-setting for Melo and Douglas, with Stoudemire most frequently playing decoy at the elbow or corner, often on the weak side of the floor. Stationing Amar'e away from the action like that should draw defenders and open lanes in which Melo and Chandler can drive and do cool slam dunk shots. Even as a decoy, though, Amar'e should get touches from those spots, both to keep the defense honest and preserve those open lanes and, you know, because he's pretty nice with them mid-range jumpers. Additionally, one would expect the Knicks to run a bit more pick-and-roll action with Amar'e himself as the screener. Again, this keeps defenses on their heels and, again, Amar'e's a pretty competent finisher on the roll. A key ingredient to running Melo/Amar'e or Toney/Amar'e pick-and-rolls with any success will be a reliable bail-out option-- Chandler hovering near the rim, Landry Fields or some other shooter behind the arc on the strong side-- as well as a ballhandler with the wherewithal to find that option if need be (basically, Melo). In summary, it shouldn't be too difficult to get Amar'e more involved, and I expect a shift in that direction in the coming games.
It'll be interesting to see how the distribution of usage changes with Douglas coming off a mediocre shooting game and Iman Shumpert (who really dominated the ball when he was on the floor) now sidelined. Who's going to get more shots? Will it be Amar'e? Could it be YOU!?