What is the Knicks' ideal lineup?

Stoudemire's injury offers Mike Woodson a chance to innovate his team

Updated: November 2, 2012, 4:49 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
Stoudemire/WoodsonJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWhen Amar'e Stoudemire returns from injury, Mike Woodson should use him as their sixth man.

After years of tumult, it looked like the New York Knicks were going to finally have a stable season, with a handpicked veteran roster. Unfortunately, Amar'e Stoudemire's creaky knees put the kibosh on that plan.

Over the summer, the Knicks were one of the more active teams in the league, but still returned 62 percent of their minutes from 2011-12. However, that number is now a bit misleading with Stoudemire out possibly until January. His absence could prove to be a double-edged sword.

The "good" edge is this: Knicks coach Mike Woodson now has a chance to stumble upon the best way to deploy his franchise player, Carmelo Anthony. Without Stoudemire, the Knicks are severely lacking at the 4 position. As Tom Haberstroh points out today, the Knicks have been very good with Anthony playing the de facto power forward spot. While Anthony has bristled at the notion in the past, Woodson can point to the way he used Josh Smith in Atlanta as an example of how the switch isn't that big of a deal.

Smith flips between frontcourt spots for the Hawks on a regular basis depending on the matchups created by any given opponent. Like Anthony, Smith's game is plagued by an overabundance of midrange jumpers, but sliding him down to the block helps save him from himself, so to speak. Woodson should consider using Anthony in a similar fashion.

It's just a matter of perception anyway. The fact of the matter is that the best players on the floor are going to migrate to the spaces in which they feel most comfortable. It's up to the coaches to fit the pieces around him. In other words, Anthony's position doesn't really matter as much as the position of the other players Woodson puts on the floor around him.

So let's sit in Woodson's chair for a moment and consider what he might do in both the short- and the near-term.