Can Amar'e Stoudemire Handle Bigger Role in NY Knicks Offense?

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterAugust 22, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06:  Amare Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks reacts after he dunked in the first half against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

I would say, "No," if last year repeats itself. Last season's STAT shot a meager .483 from the field and only claimed 7.8 rebounds. It was enough of a poor, sustained performance to make his $100 million contract one of the worst in the league.

The production would be bad enough, but it came with the "Eureka!" finding that Carmelo Anthony is better suited to power forward, Amar'e's position. So the Knicks have a gigantic contract, dedicated to paying someone who holds back another lavishly paid star's production. 

Now, the Knicks had better hope that Stoudemire can handle a bigger role, especially since STAT expects to shoot more, per NY Times reporter Nate Taylor's reporting.

Amar'e Stoudemire said he expects to shoot more in Mike Woodson's new system.

— Nate Taylor (@ByNateTaylor) August 20, 2012

There is hope, however, Knicks fans. Stoudemire may have had a poor season because he suffered from bulging discs in his back. After some rest and improved health, we might be treated to the 2010-2011 version of Amar'e. 

Though Amar'e was obviously hindered by a lack of burst, some degree of randomness impacted his production. While I heard many commentators bemoan Stoudemire's inability to get to the rim, the numbers did not reflect this. 

In his more successful 2010-2011 campaign, according to HoopData, Amar'e attempted 6.2 shots at the rim per game. Of those, he converted 63.6 percent of his tries. Last season, Amar'e managed 5.7 shots at the rim in a slower paced offense—barely any drop off. When he got rimward, STAT converted at a healthy 69.7 percent.

So what brought Amar'e's production down? Why did he go from 25.3 points per game to 17.5? Well, the big downturn occurred in that pesky 3-to-9 foot range. In 2010-2011, Stoudemire shot 45.3 percent on 4.8 shots from that range. This may sound like an unimpressive field-goal mark, but the "floater" territory is often the least accurate for basketball players. Sharp-shooting Kevin Durant shot exactly that percentage (45.3 percent) last year, for example.

This season, STAT wasn't so lucky from floater range. He fell all the way down to 32.4 percent on less than half the attempts. A degree of bad luck--combined with an uncomfortable role—probably contributed to the dramatic shift. By "uncomfortable role," I mean that New York began to turn from the pick-and-roll basketball that defined Mike D'Antoni. 

Amar'e is fantastic with a head of steam, and he can use the forward momentum from a pick-and-roll pocket pass to nail an easy floater. In a Mike Woodson iso-offense, he might be somewhat at sea. 

Though New York looks to use less pick-and-roll in this Melo era, Stoudemire is seeking to adapt. This is encouraging for Knicks fans, because, for all his defensive faults, Amar'e has demonstrated a dogged resourcefulness in his young career. When knee troubles robbed him of some burst, he developed a deadly jumper. 

A post game appears to be next in Stoudemire's evolution. He's been working with Hakeem Olajuwon, developing a deadly spin move. 

So while I don't want more of Amar'e in New York's offense if he's the 2011-2012 version, I expect him to be much better in 2012-2013. With a Hakeem-polished post game, STAT should be a valuable offensive contributor for the Knicks.