Much has been made of New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire and his minutes limit to start the season. Stoudemire has sat out four of the Knicks’ 13 games, and he averaged just 11 minutes and 3.6 PPG in the first seven games he did play in. However, Stoudemire has played over 20 minutes in each of the Knicks’ last two games, scoring 12 points and grabbing 4 rebounds Saturday against the Washington Wizards and recording 10 points and 6 boards last night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Knicks fans have been calling for expanded minutes for Stoudemire, if only because the team is so thin up front. Any production the Knicks get out of Stoudemire would be huge given their ever-worsening offense this season. Equally important is the fact the Stoudemire is making $21.7 million this season, and a player with the cap figure needs to contribute at least something.
Unfortunately, Stoudemire’s problems are the same as the rest of the Knicks, in that he is an inefficient scorer, unwilling passer, subpar rebounder and terrible defender. That being said, the Knicks need all the help they can get, and Stoudemire is a player who is talented enough to have made six All-Star teams. His knees have betrayed him and completed derailed his career, but if he can provide a secondary scoring option to Carmelo Anthony for 20 minutes a game, it would go a long way towards improving the Knicks’ offense.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not Stoudemire can physically handle this increased workload over the course of the season, and he will certainly sit some games out for rest. Even though he will never be the same player he once was, Stoudemire can still be a contributor, particularly as the focal point of the offense while Anthony is out of the game. Stoudemire could thrive in a role that limits his minutes but gets him touches, and the Knicks desperately need someone to take some of the scoring load off Anthony’s shoulders.
It may be a long shot, but because of the cap situation and lack of trade assets, the Knicks’ only hope for improvement this season is if the players they have start to play better. That begins with Stoudemire, who has the talent to make an impact if his body can handle the minutes. The last two games are a promising sign, and the Knicks have to hope that Stoudemire is finally ready to be a contributor.