David Lee or Amar'e Stoudemire? This Pick Isn't So Easy
The question now is, which player has the better fantasy value: Amar'e Stoudemire or David Lee?
My initial feeling was that Amar'e would have a bigger fantasy impact than the displaced Lee. But as I continue to think about it, and as I go back through the running tape in my head of Lee hitting 16-foot jumpers with ease last season while giving his all on a team that had nothing to play for except "next season," I'm starting to think that Lee might give Amar'e a run for his money.
David Lee posted a career-year last season with the Knicks, going for 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.1 steals, 81.2 FT% and 54.5 FG%. He played in 81 games and has missed just three games over the last three seasons. And as I mentioned earlier, Lee has developed a nice mid-range jumper. He shot a career-high 4.9 attempts from beyond 16 feet and made 43.0 percent of those attempts. The missing link in his game was his jumper -- well, that and the fact that he doesn't block many shots.
Stoudemire was equally as effective last season. He posted 23.1 points on 55.7-percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 0.6 steals and 77.1-percent shooting from the line. He also proved to be healthy, playing in all 82 games for the Suns.
There are certain factors to look at in this case. You have to consider that Stoudemire is no longer playing alongside Steve Nash. Raymond Felton is no slouch -- or no Chris Duhon, which is a good thing -- but he's certainly not Nash. I can still see Stoudemire, though, leading the team in scoring with 20-plus points per game, but he's not going to be the double-double machine that Lee is. The Knicks added some additional size in the offseason -- Randolph, Turiaf, Jerome Jordan and Russian big man Timofey Mozgov -- which might affect Stoudemire's rebound-rate. In any case, he's not the rebounder that Lee is.
In Golden State, however, Lee will be playing alongside 7-foot big man Andris Biedrins. He is coming off a horrible, injury-riddled season in which he pulled down just 7.8 rebounds per game. The two seasons prior, however, he averaged 10.5 and 11.9 boards, respectively. Lee has never played alongside such a skilled rebounder in his 5-year career -- apologies to Eddy Curry, Jerome James, Kelvin Cato, Randolph Morris and Cheikh Samb. Yes, he played alongside Zach Randolph for the entire 2007-08 season, but Lee pulled in a just 8.9 rebounds that season after having posted 10.7 the season prior.
There's no arguing from me here that Randolph is a much, much better player than Biedrins. And there is no guarantee that Biedrins can or will return to his 2008-09 form. On the flip-side, there are plenty of rebounds to go around in Golden State. The Warriors took a league-best 86.5 shots per game. Biedrins aside, the only other player currently on the Warriors roster who averaged more than five rebounds per game was Anthony Tolliver, a big man who at times is more comfortable playing on the perimeter.
The final factor to consider is the head coaches. Amar'e is going to a New York team with a fairly stable coach, Mike D'Antoni, who he's comfortable playing under. Lee, on the other hand, goes to Golden State to play for Don Nelson whose rotations are so fickle that one never knows which players are going to see time on the court. Eighteen different players started for Nellie last season. Injuries played a role, but so too did Nellie and his indecisiveness.
I hate to do this, but I think it's a coin toss. I'm leaning a bit toward Amar'e because he is, without a doubt, the best player on his own team. Lee is third behind Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, right? Arguably second when we're talking about fantasy value. But he has some competition on his own team. The Knicks' supporting cast is good, but they don't have another player on the same level of Ellis or Curry. Well, I'll argue Danilo Gallinari, but I might be a little biased. We Italians stick together!
Give me Amar'e, but I won't complain if I end up with Lee.