Every NBA team is facing some big questions as they prepare to get the 2013-2014 season underway. Here at Empire Writes Back, we are helping you get up to speed by counting down the five most important questions facing the New York Knicks this upcoming season.
#4 What should we expect from Amare?
Unfortunately the Amar’e Stoudemire from his Phoenix Suns days is long gone. Remember the guy who used to slash to the hoop, throw down vicious slams, and hit 18 footers like they were layups? Well, yeah, that guy isn’t walking through the doors of MSG anytime soon.
So what version of Amar’e Stoudemire will we see this year?
Will it be the serviceable PF who in 29 games last season averaged 14.2 points, 5 rebounds and shot 57% from the field in a mere 23 minutes per game? Or is that even hoping for too much? As frustrating as it was for Knicks fans last season Amare actually played great upon his return, even when you consider that Amare is a huge liability on the defensive end, he still posted a PER of 22.16 last season, which for anyone who doesn’t know, is very, very good.
When it comes to Amare health is obviously the first, second, and third concern. If we’re going off of the latest reports, things seem to be looking up for STAT, who was cleared for full contact drills for the first time last Saturday. After taking the court with his teammates for the first time in months, Stoudemire sounded positive about his status going forward,
“I felt explosive. So we’ll see how the progress continues,” Stoudemire said.
After seeing Amare in his first full day back since offseason knee surgery Knicks head coach Mike Woodson also sounded positive about Amare’s prospects for the regular season opener on October 30th against the Milwaukee Bucks,
“If there’s no setbacks we hope he’ll be there for opening night,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “We’ll have some practice time prior to us opening and we’ll scrimmage a lot more and try to hopefully tailor some minutes in the scrimmage that will carry over into the regular season. It’s a day at a time.”
The other thing to take into account with Amare is that the Knicks now have another offensive minded big man with severe allergies towards team defense in former Raptor Andrea Bargnani. Playing these two together would not be good, so Mike Woodson is going to have to find a comfortable balance between them. Because of Bargnani’s presence and Amar’e's injury history I think we should expect to see much less of Amar’e on the court this season. I would say right now that 18 minutes sounds about right for Stoudemire. Now if he can stay healthy all year, and become comfortable in his role, Amare can actually still do a lot for the Knicks in 18 minutes a game. On the other hand we may be one more knee injury away from never seeing Amar’e Stoudemire on a basketball court again.