6 Adjustments Amar'e Stoudemire Must Make Once Back for NY Knicks
Will Amar'e disrupt the chemistry that New York has going for them?
Will he be better suited as the Knicks' sixth man?
Regardless, there are six essential adjustments that the power forward must make upon his arrival back to the Mecca of basketball—Madison Square Garden.
1. Focus on Defense
We're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.
Well, Amar'e's not in Phoenix, nor is he under guidance of Mike D'Antoni.
Under Coach D'Antoni, the game plan was simple—outscore your opponents and forget about the defense.
However, now the games different under coach Mike Woodson.
Defense is just as important—if not more important—than the offense, and that's going to be a problem for Amar'e because he was never known for playing above-average defense.
He's been a liability on help defense and pick-and-roll defense. Time after time, Stoudemire isn't sure if he should swarm the ball handler or rotate back to the block, and that's going to be a problem.
Amar'e needs to be more verbal, and this should allow the transitioning to be a bit easier.
If anyone can improve the forward's skills though, it's Mike Woodson.
2. Box Out and Rebound
This New York Knicks team is one that puts up a lot of shots during a game—they average about 83 a game.
It's going to be important for the bigs, including Stoudemire, to make sure they clean up the glass properly.
As of November 28, New York has the sixth-worst rebounding percentage at 48 percent.
Typically, the Knicks average 10.2 offensive boards per game, while their opponents average just over 11. The defensive rebound average is what needs significant improvement.
Currently, New York averages 30 defensive rebounds and their opposition averages 33.
The difference is a total of minus-3.9 for the Knicks.
Not a great statistic for a team with a Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler and a star like Carmelo Anthony.
When Amar'e comes back into the picture, he should be able to contribute here. He averages about nine rebounds a game: six on defense and three on offense.
I don't think we're asking for the moon by asking Stat to clean the glass appropriately.
3. Develop Chemistry with Point Guards
Raymond Felton had great chemistry with Amar'e Stoudemire in their first stint together.
It's going to be important that Amar'e finds that comfort area with Ray again, but he's also got other options—there will be times when Amar'e is on the court with either Jason Kidd or Pablo Prigioni, and both of these guys are pass-first players.
Fans should be excited that Amar'e will be paired with these three athletes: One he's had previous success with, another that's a proven point guard that is surely going to be in the Hall of Fame and another that can deliver the ball where need be.
If you can remember in the early goings of the 2010-11 season, Felton and Amar'e really weren't on the same page. It wasn't until Game 4 that the two were able to wreak havoc as a unit.
The same thing is going to happen when he returns this year.
Stoudemire is going to need to be reacquainted with his new weapons, and once that adjustment is made, he might be able to help New York rather than hurt them.
4. Regain Offensive Touch
Amar'e Stoudemire always had a very nice jump shot to rely on, but recently, it appeared as though that part of his game was inept.
Last year was the worst season of Amar'e's career—barring his rookie year.
He just didn't look like the power forward that we had been accustomed to seeing man the 4 spot in Madison Square Garden.
Stat averaged 17.5 points per game and eight rebounds a game.
Did this have anything to do with Carmelo Anthony?
Of course it did, but he's going to need to make things work for the betterment of this franchise.
Over the summer, Amar'e worked with Hakeem Olajuwon on a post game and other things he could add to his repertoire to make him a more dynamic player, but we have yet to witness this because of that knee injury.
If Amar'e learned anything over the weeks with the Dream, hopefully it will translate to a more explosive player who can help alleviate the pressures on Carmelo Anthony to score.
Don't get me wrong, Stoudemire shouldn't come into his first game back expecting to score 25—he doesn't have to anymore—but just having him as an option should be enough.
5. Be the Lesser of Two Evils
Amar'e Stoudemire put New York on the map. Carmelo Anthony will be the one to mark them on the globe.
He's the more versatile player, and at this point in their careers, the healthier and more reliable one too.
If Dwayne Wade can swallow his pride and work with LeBron James, Amar'e could do the same with Melo. However, it's not necessarily just laying back and letting Carmelo do the work.
Regardless, Amar'e is on the biggest stage of them all—Madison Square Garden.
He'll be scrutinized whether he's Batman or Robin, so for the sake of winning and turning this franchise around, he's got to accept a lesser role than the one he originally signed up for.
Both players are scorers, yet they seem to coexist and do what needs to be done. Paul Pierce is that go-to option, while Kevin Garnett is the second option but is still reliable.
The Knicks' duo is younger, therefore they should be able to do a little bit more.
If Amar'e is willing to adjust to that lesser role, New York is certainly in for a title run.
6. Embrace Whatever Role He's Assigned
Amar'e Stoudemire's return could mean that he will come off the bench.
Coach Mike Woodson has not committed to inserting the power forward into the starting lineup.
"I’m going to address that when we get to that point,’’ Woodson said at New Orleans Arena. “Right now I’m just taking it a day at a time and work the guys we have in uniform.’’
If Amar'e is sent to the bench, it's not necessarily a bad thing.
He'll form a second unit with Jason Kidd (upon Iman Shumpert's return), J.R. Smith, Steve Novak and Marcus Camby/Rasheed Wallace. That's a pretty formidable unit—in fact, I'd take that unit over Washington's first unit right now (Sorry Wiz fans).
The Knicks current starting lineup has done just fine up to this point, aside from a few road blocks. Adding Stoudemire to the second unit allows Woodson to worry even less about blowing a lead or playing catchup, while dodging the bullet of playing two so-called "incompatible players."
Unfortunately, this is a role Stoudemire is not familiar with. However, it shouldn't take long to get accustomed to.