Coming into the season, many saw Stoudemire as the team’s wildcard, as, at his best, he would make the Knicks a versatile team, but, if he were to play at a lower level, he would clog up the paint and be a nuisance for the team.
His return was met with mixed emotions, as well, since the team was playing so well. Would he ruin the chemistry? Would be a black hole? Questions like these flooded Knicks fan’s heads, and left us unsure whether we should be cheering for his return or dreading it.
Right around this time, Matt Shanley wrote a beautiful letter to Amare. Stoudemire actually took the time to read the piece and respond to it, which makes the letter that much more meaningful. As Matt outlined in the article, Amare is such a good guy, that it’s hard not to root for him.
With that said, we love our Knicks. And as much as we might love one player, in the end, we’re rooting for the team to succeed – with or without that player.
15 games into the season, after the rust has been shedded, it appears STAT is back and it feels great to simultaneously root for the Knicks AND Stoudemire to succeed!
First off, Stoudemire paid Hakeem Olajuwon $50,000 to learn under his tutelage this summer. While it looks like a hefty sum, if it actually helped Stoudemire develop a post game, it would be chump change. Well, so far, Stoudemire is second in the league in post-up offense, scoring 1.09 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports. He’s shooting 64% on 36 attempts, and if you’ve watched any games recently, he’s shredding opponents.
He’s also using his athleticism to get easy buckets in transition, scoring on six of seven attempts, so far.
Most impressive of Stoudemire’s play so far is his ability to score off of both a mid-range jumper and at the hoop. This play illustrates that beautifully, as Stoudemire swings around to the elbow – a place where he attempted a ton of shots over the past few years - and after catching the ball, instead of going up with a shot, blows by his defender for an easy dunk.
If you look at that play closely, Tyson Chandler, who Stoudemire struggled with last year, set the original screen for J.R. Smith, which left the paint open for Stoudemire to drive into, and once Stoudemire got past the defense, Chandler had regained his inside positioning for an opportunity to clean up the glass, had Stoudemire missed.
Seeing Stoudemire blow by a defender is awesome, but seeing him do it with Chandler on the floor is even better.
Stoudemire’s current win share/48 minutes is the third highest of his career, sitting at .218. Win share basically quantifies how many points above replacement a player is worth, but converts it into a share of a win. One win is equal to one win share. So, Stoudemire’s .218 win share/48 minutes means he’s to credit for a little more than 20% of every win, essentially. This is particularly impressive given the fact that he’s coming off the bench.
Another statistic that is near Stoudemire’s career high is high offensive rating of 123. He has a career average of 114, and has only beat the 123 offensive rating once (124 in ’07-’08). Stoudemire averaged 25 points and 9 rebounds the last time he had offensive rating numbers this high, so this is also pretty cool.
During ’07-’08, Stoudemire also had the highest true shooting % of his career: 65.6%. This year he’s currently at 65.2%. True shooting takes into account free-throws, and is generally a more accurate way of looking at how a player is shooting.
One last statistic: Many were worried how Stoudemire would place with Melo. So far this season, Melo has 11 assists to Stoudemire. Melo and J.R. Smith are tied with 11 assists to Stoudemire a piece, which is interesting, as it shows that Stoudemire excels with both the first and second unit.
All in all, Amare is playing some tremendous basketball. Should he continue at this amazing pace, he will no doubt be considered for Sixth Man of the Year, but, more importantly, give the Knicks yet another versatile weapon.
Good to have you back, STAT!