Remember in the 2012-13 season when the New York Knicks were one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the NBA? Those were good times. In fact, that dynamic offense — which ranked third in efficiency and set an NBA record for three-pointers made — led the Knicks to 54 wins, despite still being mediocre on the defensive end of the court.
Well, believe it or not, the Knicks of this season, despite a poor record, have actually somewhat resembled that special team from last season. Since February 1, the Knicks are seventh in the NBA in offensive efficiency, and since the start of March, they’re second in the league in offensive efficiency.
A big part of that has been Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire’s resurgence has been oft discussed this month, but he continues to merit mention. Over eight games in March, Stoudemire is averaging 27 minutes per game, 17.5 points on 60% shooting, to go along with 6 rebounds per game and nearly five free throw attempts per game, where he’s also shooting 78%. What Stoudemire has done for the Knicks, and mainly Carmelo Anthony, is provide a secondary scoring punch not unlike what J.R. Smith gave the Knicks last year.
While Stoudemire doesn’t space the floor like Smith can, he still provides balance with his ability to hit the midrange jumper, pose a threat as a roller, or post up on the low blocks. Additionally, Stoudemire gives the Knicks easier baskets — he’s shooting over 61% on 276 field goals around the basket — and at a much more efficient rate than Smith.
Over the course of March, Stoudemire has the fourth highest net rating of any Knick receiving consistent playing time (only Toure’ Murry, Cole Aldrich, and Earl Clark are ahead of him, and they don’t play consistent minutes). For the month, the Knicks have a 117.9 offensive rating with STAT on the floor and a 109.9 rating when he’s on the bench, according to NBA.com/Stats.
His impact translates to more basic stats, too. With Stoudemire on the floor in March, the Knicks are shooting nearly 49% from the floor and 42% from three-point range (which can be attributed to the spacing he provides posting up and in the pick-and-roll/pop).
The challenging part for the Knicks now will be keeping Stoudemire going at this rate. Throughout the season he’s proved that he plays better when he has an established role and consistent minutes. His early play-a-game-sit-a-game routine was badly damaging his impact on the team and it threw him out of rhythm. The Knicks need him if they want to stay in this playoff push, but they also can’t risk pushing him too hard. He’s come off of three knee surgeries and back treatments in recent years, and the Knicks can’t afford to send him back to the doctor’s table.
For now, though, it’s been a welcome site seeing Stoudemire rekindling his former dominance, and after several years, he’s teaming up with Carmelo Anthony to provide the needed scoring punch.
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