The New York Knicks have been off to a great start. 30 games in, they were off to a 21-9 record, and the number two seed in the East behind The Miami Heat. But there was still one big elephant in the room. The return of Amar’e Stoudemire. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Stat and Carmelo have yet to prove that they can be successful together, and with Anthony’s MVP caliber play at the power forward position there are many stating The New York Knicks are better without Amar’e which cannot be more untrue.
Amar’e wants to win, and wants to contribute any way he can. He’s accepted the role of coming off the bench . “It’s a great role, something we can cherish, come in as the second unit and ignite the team, keep the momentum going, and it’s something that we need” Amar’e said after practice Wednesday. This is music to Knicks fans ears. And through two games back, we’ve seen what can be.
In his first game back against Portland, Amar’e had obvious rust. In seventeen minutes, was 3-8 from the floor for 6 points. His rust was expected and nothing for Knick fans to worry about, although many were ready to begin bashing him already. But it was last night where we saw how much stat can help this team off the bench.
In the second quarter against San Antonio, Woodson assembled a lineup of Prigioni, Smith, Novak, Copeland, and Amar’e which I absolutely loved. Twice when Amar’e and Pablo ran the pick and roll, the Spurs were so focused on Amare’s roll that Prigioni kicked it out once to Copeland, and once to Novak for a wide open three. You can see Novaks at the 43 second mark of the video highlights. Lineups like this are where stat can be successful. With a pick and roll point guard in Pablo, or Felton when he returns and shooters around him, this Knicks second unit can be as good as anybody’s in the NBA. What you also saw last night was Amar’e really trying on defense, which was a great sight to see.
You also can never have enough depth, which is why the thought of Amar’e returning would hurt the Knicks is laughable. If Chandler gets in foul trouble, Amar’e can come in early at the five keeping Carmelo at the four. Keeping the floor spread for both players to do what they do best.
There are so many opportunities in which Amar’e can help this team. I saw a big improvement in game 2 from game 1, and only look forward to more progress, helping The Knicks and all us fans get to the place we’ve been dreaming of returning to. The NBA Finals.