Amar’e “STAT” Stoudemire is arguably the most athletic and dominant big man in the league today. But after a lackluster 2011-2012 season, that saw his “superstar” status take a hit and fans and critics suspecting age is starting to take its toll on the prolific pick and roll finisher. Now after another early playoff exit, Stoudemire has refocused himself during this offseason—ready to prove his doubters wrong. To the delight of the New York Knicks’ organization and fans, STAT has enlisted the help of Hall of Famer and post playing guru Hakeem Olajuwon’s help in hopes of evolving his game. And after an active and successful offseason by the New York brass, here are four reasons why Stoudemire will return to form in 2013.
1. Chip on his Shoulder
After registering a pedestrian 17.5 points per game this past season, fans and critics alike were wondering why STAT was struggling. Stoudemire connected on only 48 percent of his shot attempts (the lowest since his second year in the NBA) and had his shot blocked 1.3 times suggesting signs of slowing down. As a result, Stoudemire watched his star power drop with his exclusion from the All-Star game and the USA Olympic team (the same team Anthony Davis incoming rookie made).
Next season Stoudemire will be motivated to prove to everyone in the NBA world that he can still be that lethal and prolific scorer we all fell in love with back in Phoenix. He will be out to prove that he is still indeed an All Star as well as one of the best big men to have graced the court in the last decade.
2. Training with Hakeem
It’s no longer a secret the chemistry issues Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire had this past season—producing stagnant and frustrating offensive displays. Since both players thrived in different styles of play, Stoudemire suffered in half court sets because of his lack post play. With this in mind, Stoudemire spent two weeks in Olajuwon’s private ranch in Houston in hopes of developing successful moves down low.
And it seems that the training sessions were successful:
“He helped me a lot,” Stoudemire said of Olajuwon. “A lot of moves that he has really, really translate to my game. To now develop a post game is going to be remarkable for me. It’s going to catch a lot of my opponents off guard and it’s going to be a great year for me.”
This is spectacular news for Knicks’ fans because it shows not only maturity on Stoudemire’s part but just another weapon for the Knicks’ already loaded offense. The Knicks can now go into training camp and establish chemistry they lacked in half court sets now that they will be able to dump the ball down low to Stoudemire. Furthermore if Stoudemire is potent in the post he will be able to demand double teams which will increase scoring opportunities for his teammates.
3. Championship aspirations voiced by Stoudemire and fellow teammates
“They take the game very serious, and also they believe that anything less than a championship is a wasted season,” Stoudemire while complimenting the Miami Heat for their approach to last season. “We have to take that same mentality going into next year … anything less than a championship is a wasted season.”
After watching the Heat win a title this season, Stoudemire sees their mentality as a blueprint for success prompting him to expand his game this summer to help his team in 2013. A mentality that Anthony wants to implement and his Team USA basketball has put him in prime position to do so, “Every time I come back and play USA basketball, my mindset is a lot different,” Anthony said. “The team-oriented atmosphere I bring back to my team, the focus I have, my conditioning, and carrying that into the regular season, it’s like I’m getting an early start.”
With both Chandler and Anthony winning gold in London this summer it can only mean they will rub off the winning culture to the Knicks roster.
4. No Excuses
It’s as simple as that.
The Knicks will have a full training camp, stability at the point guard position, and Stoudemire will have newly acquired post moves. There should be no reason why the Knicks should make the playoffs by the skin of their teeth or Stoudemire should be struggling.
Furthermore every team in the Atlantic division had an active season and this division is now one of the toughest in the league which is why Stoudemire needs to be on top of his game this season. Despite the more competitive division, Stoudemire’s new move set and mindset should be able to propel the Knicks to at the very least a home court advantaged first round.