I won’t be rooting harder for anyone on the New York Knicks this season than Amar’e Stoudemire.
Since he signed that $100 million contract—which has been exposed as ridiculous— four years ago, Stoudemire has been absolutely plagued by injuries. He’s had three knee surgeries over the course of the last year, the most recent coming this past summer.
But STAT’s injury history isn’t limited to his knees, although those have been biggest obstacles he’s faced. While on the Phoenix Suns, Stoudemire detached his retina and suffered a partially torn iris, which is the reason that he now wears protective goggles on the court.
In 2012, a bulging disc in his back sidelined him for 12 games. During the postseason of that same year, he lacerated his hand after smashing a fire extinguisher encasing following a frustrating loss to the eventual champion Miami Heat. In his career, Stoudemire has suffered two sprained ankles (one in Phoenix and one in New York), a sprained big toe, a pulled back muscle—the list just goes on and on.
But STAT’s biggest problem has unquestionably been his knees. He’s gone under the knife at alarming rate over the course of his 11-year pro career, having to endure four separate surgeries.
As a Knicks fan, it’s impossible not to love Stoudemire. Forget about the contract—when no other superstar wanted to take a chance on a team that was drowning in the aftermath of Isiah Thomas, STAT made the Knicks relevant again.
And while he won’t be the driving force of New York’s team next season, his role will be irreplaceable.
When Stoudemire was actually healthy last season, he gave the Knicks great offensive production on the post and brought an undeniable energy to the floor whenever he checked in off the bench. His willingness to accept whatever role Mike Woodson has for him—just as he did last year—will be a key component to his performance in 2013-14.
Think about it: outside of Stoudemire, the Knicks have nobody other than Carmelo Anthony that can take a defender one-on-one below the free throw line. When combined with Andrea Bargnani’s ability to stretch the floor with outside jump-shooting, New York has a lethal PF combination.
Stoudemire averaged about 14 points and five boards a game last year. Although those numbers were taken from a small sample, that’s the type of production that New York will expect from him in 2013-14.
According to Synergy Sports, STAT connected on 66.7 percent of his shots in isolation, 58.9 percent as the roller in the pick-and-roll, 53.2 percent on the post and an outrageous 85.7 percent while in transition.
That’s exactly what New York will need next season—efficiency. The Knicks have Anthony, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to carry the scoring load—and the two guys not named Melo aren’t exactly consistent. Stoudemire’s role will be exactly what it was last year, and that’s to bring energy and efficient offense off the bench.
He isn’t worth $100 million, and the team will face difficulty in trading him because of that burdensome contract. But for all of the pain he’s endured over the past few seasons, Stoudemire deserves a healthy season to prove what he can actually do.
Look for Stoudemire to average close to 15 points and five rebounds per game off the bench in a season where he thrives on the post and in the pick-and-roll, and maybe even turns into the team’s second option offensively.
If he’s healthy, 2013-14 will be a renaissance year for STAT.