With the Knicks preparing to match up with either the Bulls or Heat in the first round of the playoffs, it's clear they are going to welcome back the offensive firepower of Amar'e Stoudemire with open arms. Already without Jeremy Lin for the beginning of the playoffs, the team is going to need all other hands on deck.
Even so, with Carmelo Anthony thriving as the sole starring attraction, there's concern as to whether or not Stoudemire's return will take away not only from Anthony's recent surge, but also the team's overall offensive rhythm.
Along with this concern comes the age-old question of whether or not Stoudemire and Anthony can truly co-exist on the hardwood. Under interim head coach Mike Woodson, the Knicks have featured Anthony in isolation, thus allowing him to shine. In doing that, however, they more often than not take the ball out of the point guard's hands. Without a formal set-up man, Stoudemire struggles to create for himself offensively.
Whether or not Stoudemire erupts for an offensive explosion on a nighty basis, and furthermore, lives up to the reputation of a $100 million man is irrelevant. His contributions, no matter how large or small, simply need to be efficient enough to make a positive impact on the Knicks.
In asking whether or not the team's two resident stars can "co-exist," most make the assumption that both need to be scoring 25 plus points per game in order to make a worthy enough contribution. That's simply not true.
Stoudemire's struggles from the field earlier in the season certainly stemmed from the lack of a point guard, but the big man has also dealt with an abundance of on and off the court troubles throughout the campaign. That said, he began to bounce back during the month of March before going down with an injury. Though STAT's numbers weren't flashy at 18 points, 7.7 rebounds. and 1.1 blocks per game, all that production is something the Knicks otherwise haven't had as of late. Receiving such an injection of life would only help moving forward.
Perhaps more importantly, his offensive output finally happened to come at an efficient rate. His 56% shooting percentage was a pleasant yet, familiar, site to many.
For the Knicks to be successful, Stoudemire does not currently have to rise up as the M.V.P. candidate many fans came to know him to be during last season's run. Anthony has seemed to find himself at the most opportune time, embracing his role as "the man" on offense.
What's more, for the most part, the entire Knicks squad has found its groove, playing relatively well under Coach Woodson during this important stretch. There's nothing broken that needs fixing. Better yet, the Knicks could simply benefit from some enhancement, and that's exactly the type of boost Stoudemire stands to provide once he returns.
Playing within his means, going with the flow of the offense, will help Stoudemire make a positive impact to the Knicks' potential playoff run. If he can simply lend a helping hand, while allowing Anthony to do his thing offensively, STAT may be able to make his most notable contribution yet.