In his 29 games of regular season action, Amar’e Stoudemire played with an altered game. Now 30-years old with a brutal history of knee and back injuries, Stoudemire isn’t the high-flying, devastating finisher in the pick-and-roll anymore. Instead, he took to the post.
This previous summer, Stoudemire spent two weeks in Houston, Texas working out with legendary center Hakeem Olajuwon. By Mike Woodson’s request, the power forward got personal lessons from Olajuwon, practicing post-up moves with a variety of head-fakes and spins in order to accommodate dwindling athleticism. Likewise, putting Stoudemire in the post would also help the spacing issues between he, Tyson Chandler, and Carmelo Anthony, as Stoudemire could become a threat in a smaller space.
According to ESPN’s Jared Zwerling, Stoudemire will return to Olajuwon’s ranch in August to continue to refine his post game. Olajuwon reportedly charges $50,000 per week for private lessons; his students have included Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, all of whom spent a week with Olajuwon. Stoudemire spent two weeks working with Olajuwon last summer.
Stoudemire’s overall 2012-13 season was a disappointment. When he first returned, he was rusty and muffed up the team’s offense and flow for a bit. Later, after undergoing a second knee surgery in the same season, Stoudemire looked rusty in the playoffs, unable to give the Knicks useful minutes.
But in between those stretches, Stoudemire found a rhythm in late January and February. On the season, he averaged 14.2 points on 57.7% shooting with 5 rebounds per game. In February, his scoring average jumped up to 14.9 points per game, and then in five games in March, when Stoudemire really hit his stride, he put up 16.8 points per game. He notched 20 or more points six times this season and threw in a few games where he shot 100% from the field.
This summer, continuing to work on his post game, remaining healthy, and hopefully establishing a more certain role with Mike Woodson and the Knicks can mean a more productive 2013-14 season for Stoudemire.