After a promising start to his Knicks career in 2010, Amar’e Stoudemire has spent the past two seasons battling injuries and has had a tough time staying on the court. However, there is reason to believe Amar’e will come back and have a successful 2013-14 season for New York.
Despite his injuries, Stoudemire managed to record decent numbers when he was on the court. Amar’e, a bench player last season, appeared in 29 games and averaged 14.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG while shooting 57.7 percent in 23.5 minutes per game (via ESPN).
But this season, the Knicks will be taking precautionary measures to keep Amar’e healthy and plan on limiting his playing time to about 20 minutes per night, according to head coach Mike Woodson (via Marc Berman of the New York Post):
Woodson confirmed a Post report Amar’e Stoudemire will be on a minutes restriction next season. The Knicks had talked about a 20-minute cap limit on the forward, and they also discussed limiting his playing in back-to-back games. ‘Right now, as it stands, he’s going to be on some restrictions,’ Woodson said.
Playing with a minutes restriction and not having to be on the court back-to-back nights should keep Amar’e healthy throughout the duration of the 82-game season. It should also help his production—a healthy Stoudemire is a productive Stoudemire.
In addition to playing fewer minutes this season, Amar’e also has a better supporting cast to alleviate some of the pressure on both ends of the court. Coming off the bench with Stoudemire this season will likely be Beno Udrih, J.R. Smith, Metta World Peace (if he is not starting), Kenyon Martin, Jeremy Tyler and Andrea Bargnani.
Smith and Bargnani will certainly ease the offensive pressure that Amar’e has dealt with his whole career. He may not even be the primary scoring option with those two on the court. And with Udrih running the show, look for better ball movement.
STAT does not have to isolate himself in the post all the time. Now, he can be part of a pick-and-roll with Udrih and Smith, something he thrived doing earlier in his career.
On the defensive end, Amar’e will be able to alternate between the 4 and the 5 positions depending on the matchup, due to New York’s flexibility. Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani are both capable of playing the 5 position, especially Martin.
This flexibility will allow Mike Woodson to decide who plays where depending on the matchup. Amar’e is not a great defender, but has always been a solid rebounder, evidenced by averaging 8.6 rebounds per game throughout his career.
There will ultimately be lower expectations and less pressure on Stoudemire because of his minutes limit and an improved supporting cast, which should allow the big man to fly in under the radar.
Finally, Amar'e looks like he will finally be healthy by the start of the season. While he may never be the same player he was, he still has a lot to offer for New York. If the minutes restriction implemented by the Knicks works, then Amar'e should be healthy for the duration of the season. And, as I said before, a healthy Stoudemire is a productive Stoudemire.