After nine straight losing seasons, the Knicks’ number one priority is undoubtedly to win and make the playoffs. The question then becomes, who will help them get there?
After being unable to attract the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the team will be relying upon Stoudemire. Will STAT have a career year in his first season in orange and blue, as he leads the way back to greatness?
Given his age, role on the team, and a return to a system in which he (and many other NBA players) flourish, all signs point to Stoudemire having his best statistical season to date.
Not only do the Knicks not have another “major” scorer other than Stoudemire, the team also lacks anyone else proven to be clutch.
A dominating force on offense, Stoudemire has proven that he can take over the game and/or have the confidence and stability to be the player with the ball in his hands at the end of a close game.
While he only had 19 points, shooting a questionable 7 for 16, during his regular season debut against the Raptors, Stoudemire surged late in the fourth quarter to propel the Knicks to an opening night victory.
Furthermore, he averaged 25.7 points in just 27 minutes per game in 6 preseason contests, proving to be highly efficient.
It is obvious that Stoudemire can score, and on this Knicks squad, he’s going to have to. That surely will not be a problem for him. Besides the fame and fortune, Stoudemire came to New York knowing full well he would have to embrace the Knicks as “his team.”
However, there is still room for improvement in Stoudemire’s game, and it’s in categories that the Knicks have been sorely lacking in for many seasons.
One of the worst rebounding teams in the league last season, the Knicks need Stoudemire to average double-digits in boards. Although he has never averaged more than 9.6 rebounds per game in a season, Stoudemire will have his greatest opportunity to do so this season. The Knicks are now without their leading rebounder from the last two seasons, David Lee, who averaged 11.7 rebounds in his two seasons as a full-time starter.
Given that Ronny Turiaf, the team’s backup center, is probably the team’s next strongest rebounder, the rebounds are absolutely Stoudemire’s to grab.
After struggling on defense last season as well, the Knicks will certainly welcome Stoudemire’s career average of 1.4 blocks. That statistic too, however, will also need to see an improvement if Stoudemire hopes to elevate the Knicks to another level.
Whether he plays the power forward or center position, Stoudemire is guaranteed to match up with the league’s best big men each and every game. As the Knicks best big man since Patrick Ewing, he will need to develop into a dominating figure not solely on offense, but defense as well.
While it’s almost certain that the Knicks’ fate depends on Stoudemire this season, statistics only tell part of the story.
In addition to being the Knicks’ most clutch performer, STAT is also an “impact” type of player, which the team has not had in years. Having such a player on the floor each and every night instantly gives the Knicks’ a better chance at winning, as Stoudemire is immediately able to turn up the heat when it is needed. His performance opening night proves he has the ability to be that type of player, whereas in the past, he has been in the shadow of a player like Steve Nash.
The Knicks’ playoff hopes are on Amare Stoudemire’s shoulders, and he’s certainly willing to embrace it. If he is able to guide his new team towards something that has not happened in nine seasons, it's safe to assume he'll do so having the best season of his career in the process.