It’s not everyday that an NBA team’s superstar also fills the role of X-Factor.
But with Amar’e Stoudemire having just recently made his return to the court, that’s exactly what he could represent.
Overcoming obvious obstacles in the form of injuries to Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, the Knicks powered through to a 9-4 record with both players sidelined. Thanks to an M.V.P.-like month of April by Carmelo Anthony, the team hasn’t missed a beat at all. Already having clinched a spot in the postseason, New York still has its sights set on climbing the playoff ladder to sixth seed before the season comes to a close.
Re-arriving just in time for a playoff party, Stoudemire stands to elevate his team tremendously at such a crucial time. The Knicks have been playing some of their best basketball of the season under Coach Mike Woodson, and though Stoudemire has sat out nursing his back injury as of late, he too showed early signs of promising things to come under the new coach.
The man otherwise known as STAT flourished offensively in March before being sidelined. After averaging 18 points per game while shooting an impressive 56% from the field, there’s no question as to why the Knicks crave his presence at a time like this.
With Carmelo Anthony continuing his dominating play, Stoudemire’s task is now to simply step back in and play efficient basketball, doing his part to complete one of the most formidable one-two offensive punches in all of the league.
After missing thirteen consecutive contests, Stoudemire appeared to have returned with a vengeance in just his second game back on the court. He had his way with the Atlanta Hawks’ defense over the course of New York’s 113-112 victory on Sunday, pouring in 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
As productive as the numbers were for Stoudemire, his impressive outing was about so much more. The power forward began to develop quite the pleasant pick & roll rhythm with Baron Davis (who tied a season-high 10 assists in Sunday’s Knicks victory), being set up in all the right spots again and again to knock down easy shots.
What’s more, STAT further proved he was back as he propelled to the basket, exploding under the hoop for a healthy helping of slams. Between the array of dunks and jumpers he cashed in on from Davis’ delicious dimes, Stoudemire seems to have found the perfect receipt for his offense once again.
It’s the perfect time for STAT to serve opponents with what he’s being cooking up in his kitchen. Though the Knicks are used to having his offense pace the team, they are now in the unique position (after playing so well in his absence) to receive a boost from Stoudemire’s offensive firepower.
The Knicks have been building on their success all season long, and as they look forward to making a deep playoff run, Stoudemire could now emerge as a late-season X-Factor.