5 Things Amar’e Stoudemire Must Do to Help Knicks in His Return
5 Things Amar'e Stoudemire Must Do to Help Knicks
A’mare Stoudemire is returning to the New York Knicks after missing the first 30 games of the 2012-13 season. His Knicks (21-9) are off to their best start in recent memory, and the last thing Stoudemire wants to do is to destroy the chemistry that the team has developed over the stretch.
New York has upgraded its depth at the guard position, with Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, as well as Pablo Prigioni, which will help Stoudemire’s personal numbers. Felton, who is out 4-6 weeks with a hand injury has been able to get Tyson Chandler to score 15+ points in eight games this season. Chandler, who does not have the offensive prowess that Stoudemire possesses, has a career average of 8.7 PPG.
The main problem that Stoudemire faces upon his return is sharing the spotlight with MVP Candidate Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks have a losing record when Anthony and Stoudemire are both on the floor, but after a season filled with sporadic injuries, Linsanity, and a coaching change, it is hard to make a serious judgment solely off of 2011-12.
Stoudemire will have to make sacrifices if he wants to be a contributing factor in New York, which has won the most games in the Eastern Conference so far this season. If he is unwilling to set his ego aside, the Knicks may look into trading Stoudemire, who has a tough contract to deal. If he truly wants to bring the Knicks “back,” as he said when he signed with New York before the 2010-11 season, Stoudemire is going to have to step up, and here is how.
5. Come Off the Bench
The most important thing that A’mare Stoudemire must do to contribute to the Knicks is to set his ego aside and come off the bench. He has never been a consistent bench player in his career, but with New York off to a 21-9 start, why would Mike Woodson mess with the starting lineup? If there are injuries, and the opportunity presents itself to start Stoudemire, then that is one thing. But in a perfect world, Stoudemire needs to play with the second unit for New York to be successful.
The addition of Stoudemire will give the Knicks the deepest bench in the NBA. Having Stoudemire come off the bench will also allow Woodson to minimize the amount of time A’mare and ‘Melo are on the floor together. In the best interest of the Knicks, Stoudemire and Anthony need to co-exsist, and perhaps the only way to make that happen is to separate them.
4. Play Big
In trading for Raymond Felton, the Knicks also acquired Marcus Camby. At 38 years old, Camby has been unable to give New York consistent production due to frequent injuries. When Tyson Chandler comes out of the game (usually because of fouls), the Knicks are thin in the front court. Although Stoudemire (6’11”) is 2 inches shorter than Chandler (7’1”), the Knicks may need some minutes from him as a center. Rasheed Wallace, in a similar situation as Camby-plagued by injuries, has also been unable to produce for New York on a game-to-game basis. Stoudemire’s ability to play big will allow the Knicks to play small, and will also earn him more minutes.
3. Buy Into Mike Woodson's System
Since taking over for Mike D’Antoni last season, Mike Woodson has led the Knicks do a 39-14 record. He has been able to get Anthony and J.R. Smith to commit on the defensive end, and has gotten solid production from Kidd, Camby, and Wallace, who have a combined age of 115.
Woodson is a tremendous coach, and Stoudemire needs to make himself coachable for the good of the team. The Knicks are finally a contender, and Woodson has played a huge role in getting them to this point. If Stoudemire is unable to mesh with Woodson’s system, he could find himself on the trading block shortly after his return.
2. Realize That Anthony is New York's Superstar
Carmelo Anthony is the best player in New York. Stoudemire, a great player in his own right, is no slouch, but it is time for the both of them to stop worrying about pleasing each other. There will be nights that Stoudemire only gets a few shots, and there will also be nights where he scores 20+ points.
Anthony needs to stop trying to please Stoudemire, as well. When they play together, the duo seems to be so concerned with not upsetting the other that they stop playing their game. Anthony is a scorer- he puts up a lot of shots, but the Knicks need him to do so. He is arguably the MVP of 2012-13 so far, and needs to continue to play like it, regardless of whether or not Stoudemire is on the court.
1. Play His Game
Coming off the bench may be the best thing that can happen to Stoudemire. He struggles to produce with Anthony on the floor, but playing with the second unit will give him more touches, more shots, more opportunities to produce. Coming off the bench shouldn’t change how Stoudemire plays, either. He is a good player who can score, rebound, defend, and carry his team if given the chance.
Stoudemire can’t change how he plays. However, Woodson can control how he plays and who he plays with, and if he does that right, the Knicks will improve greatly with the return of Stoudemire.
Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for articles, news, and all things NBA.