Attempting to officially put last season's struggles behind him, Amar'e Stoudemire took to ESPN NY Radio yesterday to proclaim his hopes for a successful 2012-13 season.
The Knicks' star told Stephen A. Smith that he has his sights set on playing at a level similar to the one he played at in the 2010-11 season, during which he averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Helping spearhead a movement towards a winning culture, Stoudemire served as a pioneer of sorts when he joined the Knicks. Leading the team alongside Raymond Felton, STAT was voted to the Eastern Conference's starting lineup of its all-star team and even garnered M.V.P. consideration throughout the season.
What NBA squad wouldn't want one of their stars playing at an M.V.P. type level?
The fact is, times (and the roster) have changed. Though Felton will once again don orange and blue next season, Stoudemire also has much more support on the Knicks than he had when he first came to town. There have been ongoing questions as to whether or not he and Carmelo Anthony can co-exist on the hardwood and furthermore, which one of those said stars can call the Knickerbockers
It's great that Stoudemire is motivated to drastically improve next season, and by organizing his workouts this summer with Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, Knicks coach Mike Woodson has seemingly helped put his power forward in the best position to do so.
To many Knicks fans, Anthony and STAT have represented "1A" and "1B" in regard to scoring options on offense (as opposed to a designated first and second). That said, would it be such a bad thing to call Stoudemire the number two option?
Though he too struggled to find consistency last season, Anthony proved in the season's final months that he is in fact the player who the Knicks will want to have the ball in his hands to close out games. Not only is Anthony clutch, he's a true closer. He clearly displays the ability to dominate games offensively.
Woodson's goal is to use utilize Stoudemire as a newly recognized focal point of the offense, but with Anthony's abilities at the team's disposal, it's important things are not forced for STAT.
In the midst of the Knicks' 18-6 record to finish off the season, Stoudemire unexpectedly settled calmly into a secondary role. Before shutting things down in April due to various injuries, the big man had a very efficient month of March, averaging 18 points while shooting an impressive 56% from the field.
In an attempt to help put an end to STAT's struggles, it has been suggested in the past that maybe he should pace the team's second unit as sixth man. Maybe such a new role would be taking it to the extreme, but depending on him just a little bit less on offense may help if it means subtracting some pressure.
Anthony and Stoudemire are often expected to score 25 points on a nightly basis, but perhaps such expectations are making things difficult. If the Knicks give Anthony the constant green light to dominate the game as the offense runs through him, Stoudemire could up thriving as he keeps the defense on its toes---all the while getting efficient buckets, completely in the flow of the offense.
Coach Woodson may want to embrace Stoudemire as a "focal point," but if Anthony rises up and consistently remains one of the league's top scorers (more so than he did last season), the power forward may realize success while instead embracing a secondary role.