Mar 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks forward Amar

Amar'e Stoudemire: Why STAT is the Key to the Knicks' 2013 Season

While the 2011-12 season may have ended in disappointment for the New York Knicks, there is much to look forward to when it comes to the 2012-13 campaign.

May 6, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire (1) shoots a free throw against the Miami Heat during the second half of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 89-87. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

The Knicks are coming off back-to-back playoff seasons for the first time since the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons. With all of the additions in the offseason so far, it’s hard for any fan not to get excited about the possibilities for this franchise as training camp is only a couple months away.

Many people consider Carmelo Anthony the key to whatever the Knicks will accomplish next season and there’s a good bit of truth to that. Melo has the coach he wants, most of the teammates he wants, and gets to be the focal part of the offense. This is Melo’s team and it’s true that the Knicks likely will go as far or as little as Melo takes them.

But having said that, he isn’t the real key to the future success of the Knicks during the next couple of seasons.

That honor belongs to Amar’e Stoudemire.

No matter what Anthony has up his sleeve this season, the key to the Knicks success is going to be the performance of Stoudemire.

What Stoudemire we see in 2012-13 will ultimately determine how good this Knicks team will be.

If we see the Stoudemire of last season, the guy that struggled to find his way all season, the Knicks on paper will be nothing more than an average team. If STAT comes in out of shape and can’t stay healthy, well the Knicks could be in trouble. If he’s the guy who put up averages of only 17.5 points, his lowest total since his rookie season of 2003, except for the 2005-06 campaign he lost to injury, and 7.9 rebounds, also his lowest total since his rookie season; well the Knicks could be one-and-done in the postseason for the third straight year.

But if Stoudemire is healthy and can co-exist with Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the floor, this team is talented enough and deep enough to make a run in the Eastern Conference.

To do that though, they need STAT performing at an All-Star level, something the multi-time All-Star is certainly capable of doing.

Early on this summer, all signs point to a possible return to form for Stoudemire.

He’s had time to heal his body and he’s shown his commitment by deciding to work out with Hakeem Olajuwon on his post-game. In addition, the franchise went out and got Stoudemire a couple of point guards that he can have success with in the pick-and-roll.

That alone should have Knicks fans excited about the possibilities of this team.

This Knicks team can be a major factor in the eastern Conference, but only if Stoudemire returns to form. If he does, he’s another major, All-Star caliber weapon that teams will have to worry about. If he doesn’t, this Knicks team becomes much easier to defend on a nightly basis.

Everyone likes to talk about how good this team can be next season, but for me it all comes down to one man.

Stoudemire is the key to everything.

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