Amar’e Stoudemire is the longest tenured New York Knick. While he has only been on the team for two years, it seems apropos that he would be the longest tenured player. After all, Stoudemire was the one that started it all, bringing the Knicks back into relevancy when he signed with the team after spending 8 excellent seasons with the Phoenix Suns. Many questioned whether Stoudemire could be the focal point of a team, given his knee issues and his supposed dependency on Steve Nash, but Stoudemire flourished in his first season with the Knicks, being considered an MVP candidate for the first half of the season. But after a disappointing campaign last season, people are once again questioning whether Stoudemire can still be an elite player. This season will be a make or break season, as he tries to return to dominant form.
Amar’e Stoudemire has played his entire career in the Mike D’Antoni offense, an offense Stoudemire thrived in. At his best, Stoudemire is one of the best pick and roll big men in all of basketball, showing great ability to catch and finish at the rim. Amar’e is also known for his patented spin maneuver, where he has displayed unbelievable quickness for his size throughout his career. Some have claimed that Stoudemire has always been extremely limited, but ultimately, that one move was that Stoudemire had really needed. Nonetheless, Amar’e has shown the ability to consistently shoot jumpers from 15 feet. Much of the time, Stoudemire’s consistency on his jump shot determines his success. If his shot is effective, his defender plays tighter and Stoudemire can blow past him for an inside basket. This past season, however, Stoudemire struggled with his shot and his entire offensive game struggled as a result. An interesting development in Stoudemire’s game is his workouts with NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon over the off season. No one expects Amar’e to become a master in the post after two weeks, but the work could add an interesting wrinkle to his game that will make even more of a formidable offensive player.
Whereas Stoudemire’s offensive abilities are excellent, his defensive skills are quite the opposite. There is no sugarcoating it; Stoudemire is a poor defensive player. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but Stoudemire has ultimately shown little defensive ability except for some impressive blocks. He just seems to lack the coordination that he has on the offensive end when playing defense. He seems to have a difficult time playing help defense and is often caught napping by cutters. And yet despite these deficiencies, there could be some hope left for Amar’e as a defender. After all, he has never been asked to play defense before Mike Woodson became the head coach of the Knicks. Maybe with some proper instruction, Stoudemire can become a serviceable defensive player.
There is no mistaking it; Amar’e Stoudemire has to be featured extensively for the Knicks to be successful. When Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire were brought to the Knicks, they were supposed to be options 1 and 1A. The reality is that since Anthony was traded to the Knicks, Stoudemire has been a distant second and sometimes the third option. With the return of Raymond Felton, the Knicks will likely run significantly more pick and rolls through Stoudemire than they have in the past year and a half. Coach Mike Woodson has also expressed his desire to feed the ball to Stoudemire in the post, so he can utilize his new post maneuvers. Stoudemire will clearly be the primary power forward with no distinguishable backup and will likely be a huge determinate in the team’s success. Hopefully Amar’e will stay healthy this season so that he can return to being the elite player he was at the start of his Knicks career.