Amar’e Stoudemire was the biggest surprise the Knicks offered their fans in the last stretch of the season. After endless speculation about his health and future with the team, Stat came out of the locker and performed incredibly well. His minutes, once limited by his knee problems, started to count more and more.
Continuing with the theme of next season profiling, let’s take a look at Stoudmire’s style of play as of late and the system basketball that is about to be put in practice by whoever heads the coaching staff of the new and revitalized Phil Jackson’s NY Knicks.
When healthy, Stat is a truck. In the last 10 or so games of the season Stat dunked more than we could imagine. He ran the floor, caught lobs, grabbed boards and created havoc under the rim. His strength helped him bully himself under the rim and avoid opponents to do the same on defense.
As I said before, under the rim he was a beast when needed. His presence helped discourage other teams to run penetration plays (having Tyson Chandler beside him could have been the reason, but who is actually paying attention?). Unfortunately Amar’e played under the Mike Woodson’s switch at all times system, and that caused some problems. The constant change in the starting lineup also helped create a depressing defense at times. Players left alone getting open looks made for some target practice for other teams at times. We can all concur that defense is what made the Knicks dig themselves down through the season and being under Woodson or not, Stat was part of that.
Here we can relax. Stoudemire was a great reference for New York’s offense during the season. Either playing the 4 with Chandler in or playing the 5 with the small ball formation, Stat was able to attract double teams, draw fouls, run pick and rolls with Felton and Prigioni and finish the play in a strong dominant manner. Oh, and he shoots from the elbow like anyone in the league… maybe not Tim Duncan, but yeah.
All in all it’s yet to be seen if Stat is going to be a good fit for the constant movement type of basketball that the Triangle needs. It’s yet to be seen if Stat is even going to remain a Knick for long. If he is though, and if used correctly, Stat can provide some valuable 30 minutes a game, playing small as a 5 or a regular 4 with great ball movement and perimeter shooting.
Stay healthy, knees!