For Amar'e Stoudemire, there is such a thing as too much of Hakeem Olajuwon.
Amar'e Stoudemire will resume working out with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon for the second summer in a row, according to his training adviser Travis King.
King said the workouts will take place sometime in August at Olajuwon's ranch outside Houston. It's not clear if Tyson Chandler will join him, which was on the table in 2012.
Stoudemire will continue to build on the post-up moves and defensive maneuvers he learned from Olajuwon last summer. The big reasons behind the collaboration were: (1) to give the Knicks a low-post presence, allowing Chandler to be the go-to pick-and-roller; and (2) to improve the spacing between Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, who had tended to crowd the court in the midrange area.
Olajuwon visibly enhanced Stoudemire's nearly nonexistent back-to-the-basket game this past season. In the 29 regular season contests he appeared in, Amar'e had added an array of low-post spins and hesitation moves to his repertoire. He looked good.
He also spent most of the year on the bench, injured. When he wasn't injured, his play style still failed to complement that of Carmelo Anthony's. And why? Because New York's problems are bigger than Stoudemire's post game.
The Knicks need someone outside of 'Melo who can create their own offense in the post. And Stoudemire's interior arsenal proved valuable at different points of the season. But it wasn't enough, nor is it going to be enough.
If he wants to spend a portion of the offseason working with Hakeem on his defense, then by all means he should. He was still atrocious on that end of the ball. From the absence of rotations to blown coverage altogether, there is plenty of room for improvement there.
By all means, he should take Tyson Chandler with him as well. Everyone in New York and their pets know he is in dire need of an actual low-post game.
For Stoudemire, however, this summer needs to be more about offensive versatility.
A few years ago, he would have been better equipped for low-post action. Now operating on a set of what can only be considered degenerative knees, he can't be expected to carry the burden in the paint.
Stoudemire is nowhere near as explosive as he once was. He doesn't play above the rim as frequently and those inordinate number of spins he employs can't be good for his knees.
Does that mean he shouldn't set up on the block or even deeper in the post? Of course not. New York does need an additional threat in the paint. But the Knicks also need Amar'e to space the floor.
When manning the 5, Stoudemire is free to jostle for position in the post as he sees fit. It allows 'Melo more room to operate and—let's face it—in the age of stretch forwards, Amar'e is better suited as a center.
He can't always expect to play the 5, though. Not so long as he's a defensive liability and not when the Knicks continue to hold out hope that he, 'Melo and Tyson Chandler will find a way to play together.
For that triumvirate to progress even slightly, Stoudemire needs to become more of an outside threat as well, like he was during his first year in New York under Mike D'Antoni.
No one wants to see Amar'e hoisting up threes 10 times a game, but honing his mid- to long-range game is a must. Staggering his and Chandler's minutes isn't always going to be an option, especially if Stoudemire wishes to see minutes down the stretch. Again, for defensive purposes, Chandler needs to be on the floor.
Re-establishing himself on the perimeter stands to be a more productive and, quite frankly, valuable focus for STAT. When used in conjunction with his already improved post game, he would become even more lethal an offensive threat. Not to mention all the energy he'd save and the wear-and-tear that would be spared on his knees.
"He's a heck of a player," Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said of Amar'e.
Stoudemire will be a heck of a contributor next season, too, if he manages to expand his game (again) beyond the confines of the paint.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!