In order for the New York Knicks to have a successful 2012 season and advance deep into the playoffs, they need to find the best way to utilize Amar’e Stoudemire’s immense talent.
In the past, Stoudemire liked to play mostly on the high-post area. However, this hasn’t been very successful since that's also where Carmelo Anthony prefers to get the ball. This has caused overcrowding on the elbow area and has slowed down ball movement and not allowed the Knicks to get many offensive rebounds.
To make matters worse, Tyson Chandler has been much more successful than Stoudemire has been at running the pick-and-roll with Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony, so he too is often out on the perimeter. This leaves the Knicks with terrible floor spacing as all three big men are often outside of the paint.
Even though the Knicks have a big three who are all 6’8” or taller, plus a point guard in Lin who loves to score in the lane, they still ranked only 18th in the NBA in points in the paint with 40.0 per game. They were also only 16th in the league in offensive rebounds per game last season with 11.3 per game, since they don’t usually have a big man down low to grab missed shots.
If the Knicks are going to have Melo catch the ball on the elbow and Chandler setting picks for whoever has the ball up top next season, they must force Stoudemire to play down low on the blocks. This will not only increase his scoring opportunities but Anthony, Lin and the rest of the Knicks guards, as well.
Head coach Mike Woodson recognizes this change in strategy must be implemented in order to benefit the team and has encouraged Stoudemire to work on his low-post game this summer. He spoke with the New York Post recently and had this to say about Stoudemire’s transition into a back-to-the-basket scorer down low,
“This summer he’ll be used to develop more low-post moves,” Woodson said. “Because the game is played inside-out, I think. [Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler] are 7-foot guys that have great athletic ability, great bodies on them and I think you’ve got to utilize them more down low. It might be asking Amar’e to do something a little bit different than he’s been accustomed to doing in his career, but it’s not too late.”
Stoudemire seems up to the challenge Woodson has set forth for him and discussed his willingness to spend this summer learning his new role with the New York Post:
“It’s actually great because I’ve never had a coach that asked me to work on my low-post game,” Stoudemire said. “I’ve been a pick-and-roll player my whole career. Being able to shoot the ball from the outside and also have quick first steps and being able to move off the dribble is an advantage for me. And now to apply some low-post moves will even be that much better.”
In order to learn this new style of play the quickest way possible, Stoudemire has called upon one of the greatest NBA centers of all time to give him some pointers—Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Not only is Olajuwon the creator of one of the greatest low-post moves this game has ever seen, The Dream Shake, but he also has an established resume as a post-up coach, improving the skills of stars like Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and, most recently, LeBron James.
Olajuwon has said that Tyson Chandler will be joining in with Stoudemire during these sessions with. Not only will Stoudemire be mentored by a legend, but he will also gain chemistry with Chandler in their new roles.
Stoudemire shouldn’t have a problem adding this new skill to his repertoire since he already possesses two of the most important attributes that all dominant low-post scorers have—aggressiveness and quickness. He also shouldn’t have difficulty establishing a great finishing touch around the basket since he's already a great mid-range jump shooter, which should be harder than shooting closer to the hoop.
If Amar’e Stoudemire takes this summer to really enhance his low-post game, and then, coach Woodson utilizes this new skill by putting him in positions to post up next season, the Knicks offense should be much improved during this upcoming season.