Amar'e Stoudemire Is Reviving Basketball In NYC, But It Takes a Team To Win
This is not exactly how the Knicks envisioned their resurrection going, but nobody is complaining after games like the one on Wednesday night.
Last year the fans and front office were anticipating the coming of LeBron James to the mecca of basketball, yet it was not to be.
So without the arrival of King James or Dwayne Wade to the Big Apple, the hopes of NYC rested on the shoulders of Amar'e Stoudemire.
Instead of Steve Nash running the point it would be Raymond Felton.
Once a great college point guard, Ray's NBA numbers slipped last year from his previous three seasons with Charlotte. As the Bobcats showed no intentions of re-signing Felton, the Knicks grabbed him as a short term fix at the point guard.
With only a two-year contract, it's obvious that the Knicks did not have the confidence to make Felton the permanent floor general for the franchise.
But plans change.
It was coach Mike D'Antoni that lured both Raymond Felton and Amar'e Stoudemire to NY, and it appears that his style is exactly what both players needed to show their true potential.
The Knicks have been the best 3-point shooting team in the league this season, and scoring at a light speed pace. Raymond Felton is averaging career bests in scoring and assists, with 18.6 and 8.6.
In winning 11 of their last 12 games and five in a row, the Knicks have had soild production from everyone on the roster.
Wilson Chandler is averaging 17 PPG with six rebounds.
Landry Fields looks like the best value pick of the draft, so far. He was the first Knick in over a decade to win a rookie of the week award and he is averaging over 10 PPG and seven rebounds.
The Italian, Danilo Gallinari has also been a big factor in the improvement of the Knicks outside shooting and overall scoring.
As for the team leader?—It's the big man in the middle.
Amar'e Stoudemire has finally started playing up to his potential on a consisten basis.
He is no longer the second brightest star to Steve Nash—Many people, including myself, thought that Stoudemire would struggle without one of the best passing point guards in league history.
There were early signs of a struggle to adapt to a new team and environment, but now that it has clicked, Amar'e has fast become one of the leading early season MVP candidates.
In six straight games, he has scored more than 30 points. One more game and he will tie the franchise record.
He's also third overall in scoring in the NBA.
Will the Knicks make the playoffs?
The key to the emergence of STAT as one of the league's best scorers has been the improvement in his mid-range shooting.
He has been very reliable from about 15 feet this season, which has helped open up his offensive game in all aspects.
The Mike D'Antoni offensive system gives Amar'e plenty of fast break opportunities and even more important, it gives him more room to work in the post.
While the big man dominates the paint, the rest of the Knicks have killed opponents from the three-point line.
It is a strategy that has New York playing as good as any team in the league and has earned Amar'e Stoudemire the award of Eastern Conference player of the week.
There has been criticism that the Knicks have been beating up on bad teams, but if they can win two out of three this week, it will be hard to deny them a spot among the elite teams in the East.
Can Raymond Felton and Amar'e Stoudemire keep the Knicks in the picture this season and lead them to a playoff spot?—It's hard to say.
There is no way to tell this early if they will have long-term consistency. They are a young team that has shown flashes of both good and bad play this season.
One thing I can say is that they are the best free agent signing of the season thus far.
Even though the guys in South Beach are starting to roll, Stoudemire and Felton have led a Knick team that was 32-50 last season, to a 14-9 start of the season.
Amar'e Stoudemire appears to finding himself both on and off the floor.
He took a summer trip to Israel where he explored his Jewish faith.
After a recent game reporters spotted the book, "The Art of War" at the locker of Amar'e—obviously he's a deep thinking individual that's always looking to improve upon his game.
While Amar'e has done everything needed to become a leader, it will take consistency from everyone in the orange and blue to resurect the fallen basketball franchise.
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