D’Antoni Must Be Careful With Stoudemire’s Health

The NBA regular season would run through April 26 and require teams to play at least one set of back-to-back-to-back games if a new labor deal is ratified in time to start on Christmas.

The league posted an outline of what the schedule would look like on its Twitter pages Sunday. The plan is a 66-game regular season, ending about 10 days later than usual. The last possible day of the NBA Finals would be June 26, two weeks later than the championship series ended last season.

Teams would play 48 games within their conference and 18 outside their conference. Teams will not visit every NBA city.

Teams will play about two more games per month, but no team would play on three straight nights more than three times.

Back-to-backs might also be played during the second round of the postseason.

via ESPN.com

This condensed schedule combined with a lost offseason will result in more player injuries this year in the NBA than in years past. Unfortunately, Knicks superstar Amar’e Stoudemire does not have the best injury history and wore down late in the season and in the playoffs last year. Part of the reason for his breakdown was bad luck, like trying a trick dunk before game 2 of the playoffs, but also because of Mike D’Antoni’s shortened rotation throughout the season. D’Antoni shortened the rotation due to a lack of team depth which is understandable but now with Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to supplement some of Stoudemire’s scoring, D’Antoni must be smart with Stoudemire’s minutes. Only having completed 3 full seasons of his 9 year career, Stoudemire averaged 36 minutes per game last season. Despite his 78 games played, it was clear that his stamina and health declined late in the season resulting in a poorer on court performance. D’Antoni must relegate Stoudemire to 32-34 minutes per game in order to keep the power forward fresh. Unfortunately, the Knicks currently do not have a serviceable backup power forward on the roster. My suggestion is to use Jeffries there but also to give Shawne Williams minutes at that spot. Williams is 6’9 and has the toughness to play low post defense. He will not be anywhere near the All-NBA Defensive team but I think Williams can adequately guard power forwards. If he can get back to his 2010 early season form, I think Williams would be a nice stretch 4 to use in a smaller lineup.

Obviously I want to see Stoudemire on the court as much as possible as he is one of the most dominant and dynamic scorers in the league but he has clear injury problems that cannot be ignored. Remember that Stoudemire has 4 more high priced seasons in New York and the Knicks do not have the depth to replace him adequately if he goes down with a major injury. Hopefully Stoudemire can stay on the court but if he is unable to the Knicks may want to use the amnesty clause on him down the road. Obviously it is way too early to seriously discuss that but it is just something to think about…

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