This offseason, Amare Stoudemire hardly missed a day of two-a-day workouts, he strengthened his previously problematic lower back to the point it now "feels great" and he acquired low-post moves -- "jewels," as STAT says -- working with Hakeem Olajuwon.
So would averages of 20 points and nine rebounds be reasonable this season? That's what ESPN NY 98.7 co-host Stephen A. Smith asked him Friday afternoon.
New York Knicks
Stoudemire, who put up 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last season -- his lowest output since 2005-06 -- seems set on getting back to his playing form of 2010-11, when his numbers were higher at 25.3 and 8.2.
"With the preparation I took this offseason to get myself prepared for this year, I'm looking to have an even better year than that," STAT said, responding to Stephen A.'s question. "I'm looking to have an impactful year. I trained so hard this offseason to be in top shape and put my body through a lot, as far as weight lifting and getting myself strong and healthy for this upcoming season. I feel like it's going to be a great year for myself and also for the team."
Mike Woodson has already positioned Stoudemire to return to being an All-Star, which he was during his first season in New York. It started when the coach orchestrated the connection with Olajuwon, his former Rockets teammate, in order to help Stoudemire develop a post-up game to become more of a focal point in the offense.
"[Woodson] did talk about me playing inside-out and he wanted me to be the dominant inside scorer that he knows I can be," STAT said. "He knows when I'm involved offensively, everything else seems to flow a little bit easier and we tend to play a lot better as a team. He's going to do a great job of making sure the ball is distributed."
STAT said he expects to catch the ball more down low this season, which he believes will help improve the Knicks' offensive spacing. That has been an issue in the past between he and Carmelo Anthony, the team's top two scorers, because they both can be heavy isolation players from mid-range when they're both on the court together.
Not only is Stoudemire healthy, but he's added new abilities to his arsenal, which he never had in Phoenix and his first year-and-a-half in New York. That was due to Mike D'Antoni's perimeter-oriented play calling.
"I always wanted to develop my post game throughout my whole career," Stoudemire said. "I was playing in the system with Mike D'Antoni where the post game wasn't really a valid position. We played pretty much an up-tempo style of play. We used mainly pick-and-rolls for our offense."
During the radio show, Stoudemire gave basically the first honest response from a Knick about why the team likely didn't re-sign Jeremy Lin, saying, "Due to the numbers, I don't think we could've matched because the numbers were too extreme." But Stoudemire said the team is in "pretty good shape" -- and he's very excited about the return of Raymond Felton.
"Raymond Felton is an awesome point guard," he said. "I played with him in high school, I played against him in high school and I played with him with the Knicks a few years ago. With the help of Jason Kidd and having that veteran leadership and knowing how to play the game, it's going to help develop Raymond Felton. He's going to definitely be a great point guard."
Stoudemire and Felton, who's coming of his worst season in Portland, both have a lot to prove.
Can they do it?
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