Last season, New York's Amar'e Stoudemire did not live up to his career numbers of 21.6 points per game and 8.8 rebounds—he averaged 17.5 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game—however, Knicks' fans should not be scared. He will have a stronger season this year, and it all starts with improvements during the offseason.
First of all, we've seen recent videos and photos of Amar'e.
The man has slimmed down.
Last season, Amar'e entered the season overweight at 260 pounds. Because of this extra weight, Stoudemire lacked a quick instep, and he did not seem to explode the way we had become accustomed to from previous seasons.
No need to worry.
Stat realized that he was not himself anymore, so he took matters into his own hands. In an interview between Amar'e and New York Post writer Marc Berman dating March 7, 2012, Berman tells us that Stat dropped 10 pounds in 10 days, with his main goal being 245 pounds. From the YouTube clip that surfaced the other night of Amar'e working out with Hakeem Olajuwon, it's safe to say he's still slim.
Which leads me to my next point—Stat is teaming up with The Dream right now picking up some low post moves. This is excellent for Amar'e, because having a low post game means the power forward is more multi-dimensional in terms of scoring. He won't need to rely on that jump shot of his, and he could stay close to the basket to make a play. Stoudemire will be able to make plays for himself and not rely so heavily on others.
Another key to success for the power forward, and his team, is remaining healthy. Amar'e has had his share of injuries, but the 4-man is still young—he'll turn 30 two days before the Knicks and Nets square off to begin the season. Coming back at full strength and 100 percent, he'll be able to contribute more and be a vocal leader for the team.
Even Amar'e knew that his game needed to be addressed. In the same Berman article, Amar'e says, "Sometimes you have to understand what it takes to get better." Now that Stoudemire realizes this, he should become a better all-around athlete.
With Stoudemire understanding "what it takes to get better," perhaps the issue of having both he and Melo on the floor at the same time could work out. Stoudemire has to know that Melo is the more talented scorer, and he should utilize this option and allow Melo to carry some of the workload.
Don't get me wrong.
If Stat is hot, by all means, keep feeding the monster. But the team must realize this; the ball cannot be two places at once. If the team understands that they each have their own role, the Knicks will have a successful 2012-13 season.
Let's not forget that Amar'e is finally surrounded with a supporting cast. His point guard, Raymond Felton, has displayed that both he and Stoudemire are effective, and we could expect to see gleams of greatness again. Until Iman Shumpert returns, Stat's 2-guard will be newly-acquired Ronnie Brewer—a physical and defensive-minded player, just like center Tyson Chandler.
From all that I have mentioned, it's clear that Stoudemire will have improved by season's start, and as a result, he will be a more effective option than he was last season. New York's offense is sure to prosper with a new cast of Knickerbockers and an improved Amar'e.
Perhaps New York will even become the supreme team in the Atlantic that we all thought they'd be.