Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire haven’t lived up to expectations since the two teamed up in New York in 2011.
Even though they led the Knicks to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, New York was bounced in the first round both times and only managed to win one game in the two playoffs combined.
Both Melo and STAT are under enormous pressure this season to finally bring the Knicks back to the promised land—or at least make a run deep into the playoffs.
The question remains though: Which Knicks star is under more pressure?
At first thought, most people would say it has to be Carmelo Anthony.
When he first joined the Knicks, he immediately took over the role as leader of the team. As the leader, Melo is the most responsible for influencing how the team will perform during this upcoming season.
To open the 2011 season, Stoudemire was the go-to scorer and would be given the ball when the game was on the line. Now it’s Melo’s job to do these things for the Knicks. He is the more dynamic scorer of the two and has proven to be one of the most clutch shooters in the game today.
The knock on Anthony is that he is a “black hole” of sorts on the court. Last season, the word “selfish” became associated with the superstar—a label he feels was unjustly thrown on him.
"Lin came and we started winning games and then we started losing games, and they could only point to one thing, which is me, the leader of the team," Anthony said in a recent interview with USA Today. "They're not going to point to Amar'e. They're not going to point to Iman Shumpert. They're going to point to me. I accept that. It doesn't bother me."
Who is under more pressure during the 2012-13 season?
As the leader, Melo needs to be ready to accept the criticism, but that doesn’t always mean he is deserving of it.
When you look deeper into the Knicks the past two seasons, it’s Amar’e Stoudemire who has been the less productive player of the two. He should certainly be feeling the pressure this upcoming season because—while Melo’s stats remain strong as STAT’s teammate (23.9 ppg and 6.4 rpg)—Stoudemire’s numbers have drastically declined.
It is every player’s job to understand the role his team needs him to play and to adjust his game accordingly. For the first one-and-half seasons that Melo and STAT were together, both players still insisted that they were Batman and neither wanted to accept that one of them must become Robin.
After watching the two play together, though, it has become obvious that Stoudemire needs to become the sidekick. It appears he finally understands this demand, per comments made to The New York Times about playing with Melo.
“It’s not the fact that me and Carmelo are not jelling. We are trying to build a championship-caliber team, and it takes a lot of changes to get to that point.”
One change Stoudemire has been working on all summer is improving his low-post game. Stoudemire traditionally likes to play pick-and-roll basketball from the high-post area. This has caused a lot of confusion, though, since that is also where Anthony prefers to play on offense.
It certainly doesn’t hurt though to get your training from one of the best big men in NBA history, Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. Stoudemire worked with Olajuwon for a few weeks this summer, paying a reported $50,000 per week for his services.
It’s a great step forward for Stoudemire to understand that he needs to adjust his style of play. Still, the pressure will be on for him to execute on the court.
Any way you look at it, both he and Melo are under a ton of pressure to find a way to gel together and lead this team to postseason victory. Is there more pressure for Melo to step up as a better leader? Or, does the pressure fall on Stoudemire to become the wingman the Knicks need him to be.
Well find out soon as expectations are sky high for the Knicks as the 2012-13 season quickly approaches.