The New York Knicks may have improved their run of .500 basketball in March, but the loss of Amar’e Stoudemire on Saturday night was a huge blow for a team still searching for cohesion.
Stoudemire missed New York’s win against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, their fourth win from six games this month, after feeling soreness in both knees. An MRI later that day revealed Stoudemire requires a knee debridement procedure, that will see him miss at least the next six weeks of action.
The Knicks’ $100 million dollar man had remained a member of the team’s bench despite successfully returning from knee issues that saw him miss the first 30 games of the NBA regular season, and had become a valued contributor of late, averaging 16.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest in March.
Stoudemire’s form improved dramatically in February and March as the often-injured big man produced five 20-point games and number of stellar performances. However, the Knicks suffered a slump that saw the team play at just a .500 winning percentage.
New York had been limiting Stoudemire to a 30 minute per game cap, but the club was looking at extending it in the near future due to Stoudemire’s perceived good health.
Carmelo Anthony’s form as the Knicks’ star player took a hit during the slump, and Stoudemire had been relied upon to produce scoring for a team devoid of a certified No.2 option. Stoudemire gave New York a distinct advantage in that substitute role.
As a key option when surrounded with at least one other Knick starter, New York has averaged between 18 and 25 points more than opponents per 100 possessions. In limited minutes, Stoudemire’s per 36 minute numbers (21.8 points and 7.7 rebounds) roughly matched career numbers of 21.3 points.
His 8.6 rebounds per game and his PER (22) and true shooting percentage (63.7) also indicate how valuable Stoudemire has been off the Knicks bench.
New York experienced a recent improvement, but their issues remain undeniable. Losing Stoudemire is a rough blow for a team desperately in need of his bench scoring.