How NY Knicks Frontcourt Injuries Impact Expectations for Amar'e Stoudemire

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 17, 2013

January 5, 2013; Orlando FL, USA; New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) reacts and points  against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. New York Knicks defeated the Orlando Magic 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Old people get hurt. That's just what they do.

With rumors spreading that Rasheed Wallace could miss the rest of the year with a stress reaction in his foot, the Knicks will be counting heavily on Amar'e Stoudemire to handle extended minutes and responsibilities.

Without Wallace, and with Marcus Camby shelved with plantar fasciitis, the Knicks just don't have any other options. The only other true 4 they have is Kurt Thomas, and I swear you can hear his bones creak as he waddles down the floor.

The last frontcourt player left on the roster is Chris Copeland, and he's a 3 who can't defend or rebound.

This is it, Knicks fans. It's Amar'e time.

Remember that $99 million-dollar deal James Dolan gave him? This is his chance to justify it.

Amar'e's return to the spotlight couldn't be more on cue. He's just been cleared to play 30 minutes, which is what they'll need from him consistently if they want to keep up this second-seed pace.

But it's not just about being healthy enough to stay out there. He has to produce, he has to defend and he has to rebound.

Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby may not be significant individual losses, but together they provide size, toughness, random gray hairs, questionable dental hygiene and depth. While most of that comes from one guy, the key here is depth. Without them, the Knicks are painfully shallow upfront.

Whether Amar'e is capable of meeting them or not, we have to raise our expectations. This team needs him to. Tyson Chandler needs a crime-fighting partner down low to help protect the rim and man the glass.

Quiet games off the bench just aren't going to cut it. It might work against the Hornets and Pistons, but not against the Bulls. Granted, he's just coming back after missing two months with a knee injury, but I'm talking long-term.

Stoudemire had his best game of the year in London, scoring 17 points in 20 minutes of action. He was aggressive offensively, getting to the stripe 12 times, finishing inside and nailing his mid-range jumper.

But the Knicks need more than just scoring. They ranked No. 27 in rebounding and No. 19 in opponent field-goal percentage.

New York needs a bully, and I nominate Amar'e Stoudemire. Unless Vin Diesel is an unrestricted free agent, STAT is the only answer left.

Forget the 20 points he used to average on a nightly basis. I want to see 10 rebounds, four fouls and a couple of rim-rattlers. The 20 would obviously be nice, but they won't matter if his man is going to town.

Assuming the Knicks will be disappointed with anything but a conference finals appearance, this frontcourt has to play two-way basketball. If Amar'e' is going to play regular minutes, it can't just be on offense.

Unless the Knicks find a big man hiding in Iman Shumpert's flattop, they'll need the Amar'e Stoudemire from 2010 to keep this team in contention.