TOUGH CALL, BUT I'D TAKE PAULBy Ian Begley
Dwight Howard or Chris Paul? Certainly a tough call.
In vastly different ways, both guys can turn a contending team into a champion.
But the way things are set up for the Knicks, I believe Paul's the better fit.
First off, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony thrive on getting in the paint. They draw plenty of contact on drives and count on getting points at the free throw line.
Last year, Anthony averaged 6.6 points per game at the line. Stoudemire scored 6.1 per game from the stripe and was fouled on 17 percent of his shots.
Those numbers would likely increase with Paul at the point. Not so with Howard, who has the potential to create more clogged lanes than the rush-hour BQE.
Perhaps a bigger issue is the pick-and-roll.
Stoudemire is one of the best pick-and-roll big men in the game; Paul would only make him better. Howard, by positioning himself and his defender around the paint, has the potential to get in the way.
Don't get me wrong. I know Howard would help the Knicks immensely on defense and on the boards. And we know they need all the help they can get in those categories. But I can't get past the fact that Orlando's Superman would be kryptonite for Mike D'Antoni's offense.
Need another reason to like Paul over Howard? The NBA is a point guard's league right now.
The debate over the league's top five point guards is a lively one. The argument over top five centers is simple: You have Howard, and everyone else.
So I'd argue that, night in and night out, having an elite point guard is more important in today's NBA than having an elite center.
All that being said, there's nothing clear-cut here.
But if the Knicks can somehow land one of these superstars, either this season or over the summer, I think the call should be Paul.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
KNICKS NEED SUPERMAN IN THE MIDDLEBy Jared Zwerling
Ask yourself this question: If you were a GM, would you rather sign the most dominant, physically imposing center in the league (Dwight Howard) or one of the best floor generals (Chris Paul)?
Sounds like an easy decision, doesn't it? Well, it is. Since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, only one repeat championship team, the Bulls, had average centers (Bill Cartwright and Luc Longley). However, those Bulls are a rare exception because their shooting guard, Michael Jordan, is the greatest player who ever lived.
But every other team that won two or more championships, either back to back or a year apart, featured a Hall of Fame big man (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish and Hakeem Olajuwon) or a future inductee (Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal). You could make a strong case for Bill Laimbeer as well.
While each of those guys needed a strong surrounding cast to bring a title to his city, he was the anchor no one could budge during a seven-game playoff series.
That's exactly what the Knicks, or any team for that matter, get in Howard. Simply put, if you're starting a squad, you start it with Superman. And he's exactly who Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire need. While Melo and STAT would benefit from a pick-and-roll mastermind like Paul, they don't need a superstar point guard to open up scoring opportunities on the floor for them. For the most part, they can create their own shots. A B-level point guard would be added value, just like they have in Chauncey Billups right now.
What the dynamic duo really needs is a defensive scare and rebounding machine down low, because those are two areas where the Knicks struggled most last season. Let's face it, how often do you hear, "Mike D'Antoni's team lacks offense?" Never. To complement an interior core of Melo, STAT and D-Howard, a seasoned vet, such as Baron Davis or Andre Miller, who are both 2012 unrestricted free agents, would do just fine -- if they were willing to accept lesser money for a chance to win a championship.
With a cast like that, the Knicks would be the favorite to win multiple titles, and Howard's name would be added to the Hall of Famer centers who came before him.
Jared Zwerling is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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