While the focus has been on interim head coach Mike Woodson leading his New York Knicks team to a 5-0 record, I think we're not paying enough focus to a greater topic. No, not Linsanity. Nope, not Carmelo Anthony either. We fail to realize that Amar'e Stoudemire has improved since his disappointing first half.
After the Carmelo Anthony trade, nobody believed that both Anthony and Stoudemire could coexist. While this was true to a certain extent, recently the duo has managed to pull together and do their own thing on the court while still leading the way for the Knickerbockers.
Although Amar'e battled an ankle injury early, it didn't really bother him as much as I thought it would, especially the way he ended last season—and the way he started did not look well either.
In the month of January, Stoudemire shot at an alarming 43 percent. From this he managed to average 17.6 points, while grabbing 8.4 rebounds. Simply put—the lockout affected Amar'e as much as the next man. His legs did not look like they would hold, nor did he appear to be as fit coming into this season as he did last.
Everyone feared that Amar'e had lost his touch and the Knicks lost on their $100 million gamble. In the midst of trade speculations, Stoudemire managed to progress, but his team still could not be consistent.
Let's fast forward to the month of March. Stat has increased his shooting percent to 56 percent. With this rate, he averaged 18.2 points with 8.5 rebounds. Although the points and rebound average this season are slightly below his career averages of 21.6 and 8.8 respectively, his field goal percentage has increased thus far compared to his career average of 53 percent.
Personally, I think Amar'e is starting to get comfortable with himself again. He has lost the weight that he came into the season with and has managed to cope with the passing of his brother. Although the coaching change cannot account for all of his March numbers, it certainly had an affect on those five recent games under Woodson.
The biggest thing I have noticed thus far is Stoudemire's legs have not given out on him yet. Last year, we saw fatigue affect Amar'e around this time. The power forward is jumping well and his field goal percentage can attest to this. In the beginning of the 2012 season, it was difficult for him to execute a dunk—now we have No. 1 catching alley-oops from his emerged point guard.
Let's remember that all NBA teams have had a series of back-to-back games, and even back-to-back-to-back games. In the three consecutive games against the Bulls, Celtics and Nets, Stat averaged 22.3 points and nine rebounds. In the three games, he shot 54 percent. I think this is great for somebody with bad knees.
Let me also include that after the All-Star break, Stat seems to be rejuvenated and is playing solid defense. He has come up with crucial rebounds and critical blocks. He is having very little difficulty transitioning on defense, which is something we had never really seen the forward do. If he can keep this up, the Big Apple is in for a big push in the playoffs.
I feel like Amar'e has accepted his role as Carmelo Anthony's sidekick, and he should—if it betters the team, then so be it. Although I respect Stoudemire for making the jump to the Big Apple without any guarantee that he would receive some form of help, it is safe to say that the Knicks are Melo's team, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as the result is progression, and eventually an answer to the prayer's of the Knick faithful—an O'Brien trophy.
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