By Andy Roth
New York, NY (Sports Network) -
Boston is fading since the deadline trade and New York's so-called superstars are not so super. I've got those stories and more in my latest take on the NBA.
History says you usually need one superstar to win an NBA championship; whether the name is Wilt, Kareem, Jordan, Bird, Magic, Olajuwon, Duncan or Kobe. It seems these days, the superstar label gets thrown around way too easily, and unfortunately for the Knicks, that's the case with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
I equate a superstar with someone who is more of a franchise player and somebody you have a real good shot of winning a title with if he's your number one player. Neither Stoudemire or Anthony live up to that standard in my estimation.
With both players, you're dealing with two great scorers who don't bring the other attributes to the table that win championships. They don't play very good defense and aren't playmakers who elevate the level of play of their teammates. When Carmelo or Amar'e put the ball on the floor it almost invariably ends up with a shot attempt rather than a pass to an open teammate.
Not long after Anthony was dealt to the Knicks, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson made a very telling comment that I'm sure was directed toward his former teammate, saying "we are passing the ball, getting everybody involved. There are no sticky hands out there."
There have been plenty of big-time scorers who have won championships, i.e. Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant. But unlike Anthony, these players were excellent passers and score within the flow of the offense rather than bog it down.
As for Stoudemire, he's not a prototypical back-to-the-basket power forward, which puts more pressure on the opposing defense and creates a smoother offensive flow. Much of his offense is initiated from the perimeter, where he either takes a mid-range jump shot or drives the ball to the basket. In either scenario, his teammates are basically bystanders, because he is rarely a threat to pass the ball when he does put it on the floor.
When you have a power forward that operates more in the low post like Tim Duncan or Pau Gasol, it creates double teams and shifts in the defense, creating open shots for teammates and offensive rebound opportunities because the defense is scrambling.
Stoudemire is averaging only 1.5 assists over his career and has had only two seasons in which he's averaged at least two per game. Those numbers pale in comparison to someone like Kevin Garnett, whose career assist average is 4.1, and has had ten seasons in which he put up at least four assists per game.
This season Stoudemire has had five games in which he's had at least five assists, while Gasol has done it 18 times and Blake Griffin 21 times.
So can the Knicks eventually win a title with Stoudemire and Anthony? I'll answer that question with a couple of questions. Do you think Doc Rivers would rather go to war in the playoffs with Stoudemire and Anthony rather than Garnett and Paul Pierce? Do you think the Lakers would have won two straight championships with Carmelo and Amare in place of Bryant and Gasol?
The Celtics have had a bumpy road since the big trade-deadline deal with the Thunder, and in the process, their grip on the top seed in the East which they've held for most of the season is gone. Boston's 41-14 record (.763 winning percentage) at the time of the trade was the second best in the league, and had them atop the conference standings.
But since the deal that brought Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to Beantown, the Celts have gone 10-7 (.588 winning percentage) and trail the Bulls by two games for the best record in the East. Among the seven defeats were home losses to vastly inferior teams such as the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Bobcats and a road loss to the Nets.
Krstic got off to a strong start with the Celtics, but has faded lately, while Green is the same "soft" player he was with the Thunder.
Krstic averaged 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in his first eight games with Boston, but in the following eight he's pulled a disappearing act, putting up just 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The Celtics knew they were sacrificing defense for offense when they sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, so it is vital for them for Krstic to produce at the offensive end.
Green, meanwhile, has given Boston the frontcourt scoring it was looking for off the bench, but he's been nearly invisible on the boards (2.4 rpg), and doesn't give the Celtics the kind of physical play they're used to getting from their big guys on the front line.
With Green and Krstic being finesse players, I think Boston desperately needs Shaquille O'Neal back in the lineup and playing to the level he was at when he was healthy to make a successful run at a title. With Shaq being injured along with Jermaine O'Neal, and Boston trading Perkins and reserve center Semih Erden prior to the deadline, the Celtics are operating without the size and bulk up front that gave them such a huge advantage over most opponents.
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy recently said the media has already anointed Derrick Rose the MVP while publicly campaigning for his own Dwight Howard. I guess I'm guilty as charged too. I think Rose has the better supporting cast, but key parts of that cast have been missing for large chunks of the season, yet the Bulls have the second-best record in the league and are 6 1/2 games better than Orlando. Joakim Noah has missed 31 games in which the Bulls went 23-8 and are 15-8 with Carlos Boozer out of the lineup.
The Heat's "Big Three" accomplished a feat on Sunday that hadn't been done in more than 50 years. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh each had at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in Miami's 125-119 win over the Rockets, marking the first time since February 1961 that three teammates put up a 30-10 night in a non-overtime game. The last trio to do it were the Cincinnati Royal's Oscar Robertson, Jack Twyman, and Wayne Embry.
But this great effort by James, Wade, and Bosh typifies Miami's season. They accounted for 94 of their team's 125 points, and got just 13 points from the bench.
Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and
was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered
many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA
Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.