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Even With Carmelo Anthony, Knicks' Forward Tandem Trails Celtics, Heat

For all those questioning whether the Carmelo Anthony trade will send the New York Knicks over the top and into legit contender status, consider this. The Knicks' two best players are now their forwards: Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. If your two best players are your forwards, and you hope to be the best team in the Eastern Conference, and you lack depth at most other positions, shouldn't your forward tandem be the undisputed best pair in the East?

Because, well, it's not.

The Knicks' tandem is high-powered, certainly, and will score a plethora of points. But look north, friend. The Boston Celtics have Kevin Garnett, who could unseat Dwight Howard in Defensive Player of the Year voting (and no one would sniff a rebuttal), and Paul Pierce, having one of his best seasons ever (which is saying a lot) at age 33.

Now look south, way south, to the Miami Heat. You see LeBron James, two-time defending NBA MVP, and Chris Bosh, a perennial All-Star and former 20-10 power forward. Amar'e and 'Melo are a good forward tandem, but they aren't as good LeBron and Bosh.

Now consider that the Celtics don't just have Garnett and Pierce, but that the team's best player might be point guard Rajon Rondo. And it's not just Garnett, Pierce and Rondo, but Ray Allen and a rather incredible bench. And in Miami it's not just LeBron and Bosh, but that incredible two-guard Dwyane Wade. The Knicks have Landry Fields at shooting guard. He's a good, solid player. But he's not Dwyane Wade. The Knicks have veteran Chauncey Billups at point guard. He's a once-great, now really solid player. But he's not Rajon Rondo.

Basically, the Knicks have designs on ultimate power with no army to enforce it. Incredible offense isn't going to be enough, because Miami's offense will be more incredible. Incredible defense isn't going to happen. (You've watched Amar'e on the Knicks this year, right?) So until the roster is bolstered again -- how that's going to happen before 2012 is a big ol' mystery -- the Knicks remain a mile behind the East's best. If you can't win the position battle at your strongest spots, how are you supposed to reign supreme overall?

(That said, 'Melo and Amar'e will almost assuredly be the most entertaining forward tandem this side of Andray Blatche and Al Thornton.)