When Amar'e Stoudemire returned to the New York Knicks on January 1, 2013, many expected the new year to breed even greater results than 2012. Unfortunately, New York witnessed the Knicks lose at home for just the third time all season.
In turn, the world is asking a complex question. What is the ideal role for Amar'e Stoudemire?
As of the Knicks' New Years Day loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, they are 31-40 with both Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in the rotation. They're 8-3 with the two in the lineup while Mike Woodson is the head coach.
Regardless of which way you cut it, the duo just haven't appeared to provide the Knicks with the spark owner James Dolan had imagined.
This is a primary reason that reports have stated the Knicks shopped Stoudemire around during the offseason (via The New York Times). It is also a source of the criticism that the Knicks will never achieve their maximum level of success with both on the roster.
Before we jump the gun with all of that, it is imperative that we evaluate the true story here.
During their first 18 games, the New York Knicks started 14-4. During that time, they averaged 103.2 points scored and 94.7 points allowed per game.
All of that changed on December 8, 2012.
The game which many will cite as the turning point was December 21, 2012, as the Chicago Bulls pummeled and dismantled the Knicks. It was their December 8 showdown that truly started it all.
Chicago won 93-85. The Knicks went downhill and have yet to recover.
Since December 8, the Knicks are just 7-6. They're averaging 100.8 points on offense and giving up 100.7 points a game on defense.
In other words, both their offense and defense have collapsed.
Perhaps this is a result of Carmelo Anthony facing injuries throughout the month of December. Maybe it's a matter of New York becoming complacent as a top-two team in the Eastern Conference.
Regardless of what you make it out to be, Amar'e Stoudemire can revitalize this team. But how?
Points in the Paint
The most common misconception about the New York Knicks is that they are a dominant force along the interior. With Carmelo Anthony and the efficient Tyson Chandler, it isn't difficult to see why that belief exists.
Unfortunately, the Knicks are the exact opposite. They are one of the worst interior-scoring teams in the NBA.
They presently rank 29th with an average of 33.2 points in the paint per game.
If you need to know anything about Amar'e Stoudemire, it is that he is a dominant interior scorer. From his elite pick-and-roll finishing skills to his improved low-post game, STAT will boost that number by five to 10 points per game.
In turn, the Knicks' offense will add another dynamic. It will also keep opposing defenses on their toes, thus limiting opposing transition scoring opportunities.
STAT may not have been taught how to play defense, but his offensive impact will improve the team's.
Impact on 'Melo
The widespread belief about the pairing of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire is that utilizing both forces 'Melo out of the post. Quite the contrary, actually, as those familiar with STAT's career will tell you.
He's played more along the perimeter than the average 4.
Stoudemire was at his best in Mike D'Antoni's system while working the pick-and-roll and spacing the floor with his jump shooting. For evidence, he shot 44.4 percent from mid-range as recent as 2010-11.
Something he could do again in 2012-13.
As a result of his mid-range prowess, the Knicks could flash 'Melo to the post as often as they'd like. They could also stretch 'Melo along the perimeter and allow Amar'e to work the screen game or enter the post himself.
The options are limitless. It's all about understanding and capitalizing upon their respective abilities.
Starting Power Forward
Regardless of what the past may tell you, the New York Knicks' best chance at legitimacy is starting Amar'e Stoudemire at power forward.
Since the inception of the NBA, the No. 1 way to establish legitimacy is to have a balanced frontcourt attack. With a dominant defender at one frontcourt position and a top-tier scorer at the other, a path for dominance will be set.
That is exactly what will transpire with Stoudemire and Chandler alongside one another.
The Knicks have a legitimately dominant low-high attack with Amar'e inside and Carmelo Anthony along the perimeter. Paired with sharpshooters Steve Novak, Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith, the Knicks could make a run at a title.
Even if utilizing Amar'e as a sixth man seemed to be the best option, times have changed.