Health and playing time has given Amare Stoudemire a recent resurgence


PHOENIX — New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire returned home to US Airways Center on Friday night to play in front of his old fans for just the second time since he bolted Phoenix for the Big Apple after the 2010 NBA playoffs. Stoudemire’s only other appearance in Arizona came on January 7, 2011, when he scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Knicks defeat the Suns, 112-96.

On Friday night, the result wasn’t the same, but the numbers for STAT were close to similar. Stoudemire posted his 12th straight double-digit scoring game with 19 points and six rebounds in the Suns’ 112-88 win. The former MVP candidate showed flashes of his past athleticism with some strong moves to the basket, but his strong effort was hidden in his team’s sloppy play.

“We cannot make any excuses,” Stoudemire said. “We knew what they were going to do coming into tonight’s game.

“We talked about the pace, we talked about the matchups, we talked about the three-point shooters. We discussed all of this before the game, so it should not have caught us by surprise.”

What has been a surprise to some is Stoudemire’s return to relevance.

Stoudemire has turned into a high quality player for the Knicks in the month of March. It’s surprisingly because his overall numbers — 11.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game — don’t paint the picture of how well he has played these last 12 games. Since March 2, Stoudemire is averaging 16.8 points and more than six rebounds per game, including four games of scoring 20 points or more.

New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson points to Stoudemire’s return to the starting lineup as a key attribute to the sudden flip in the forward’s play.

“That has something to do with it,” Woodson said. “The fact is he can play more minutes. When a player’s minutes go up, a player’s productivity goes up, and it has been that way with Amare.”

Stoudemire had surgery on his knee over the summer and came into the season with his minutes being tightly restricted. He only topped 20 plus minutes three times in the Knicks’ first 18 games. The minutes restriction was something that Woodson has never dealt with before.

“I had no idea to be honest,” Woodson said of his expectations for Stoudemire before the season. “When Amare tells you that he can only play 10 minutes a game, that is tough.

“Those minutes have grown and we have benefitted from it. I always keep my fingers crossed with Amare.”

Stoudemire’s minutes have increased recently. The 6-foot-10 forward has started the past 11 games for the Knicks and is averaging 28 minutes per game over that stretch. Woodson has him on a 30-minute limit but admitted to being forced to go over that amount of minutes based on the flow of the game.

Stoudemire is happy to be back in the starting lineup, where he feels he belongs.

“A factor that you have to show that regardless of the situation, you have to work hard and still be yourself and be a dominant player whether you come off the bench or start,” Stoudemire said. “Now being back in the starting lineup I am comfortable now, back in my comfort zone and I know how to prepare myself for games.”

Being a key cog in a team’s starting lineup is a sight all too familiar for Suns fans. Stoudemire’s time in Phoenix can be summed up in one word — dominance. In eight seasons with the Suns, the forward wowed fans with his powerful dunks and flashy numbers.

The 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year averaged 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game throughout his Suns career and was on two teams that went to the Western Conference Finals — he was on the 2006 Western Conference team, but did not play due to an injury. In his first WCF, Stoudemire dominated the San Antonio Spurs by posting an astonishing 37 points per game against Tim Duncan, though the Suns came away in defeat.

Stoudemire also was on the 2010 WCF team that came within two games, or perhaps a Metta World Peace layup, from advancing to the NBA Finals. Current Suns guard Goran Dragic played with Stoudemire on that team and is not surprised with the six-time All-Star’s return to relevance.

“I know if he is going to be healthy, he will play well,” Dragic said. “He was an All-Star and carried the Suns for many years with Steve (Nash).

“I was watching some tape and it seems like he is feeling better. I think he doesn’t feel as quick anymore, but he can still play. He was one of the best forwards in the league, maybe he dropped a little bit, but he is still dangerous.”

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek was not around the organization during Stoudemire’s heyday, but that does not mean he has forgotten the player Stoudemire was before his knee troubles.

“When he was younger, when he didn’t have the knee issues and you just gave him the ball anywhere within 10-12 feet on the move and somehow he was dunking it,” Hornacek said. “Some of his athleticism is not there, but like any other player that gets old, they learn different things and he is still an effective player.”

Stoudemire has adjusted well to his aging and beaten down body. He’s developed a strong outside jump shot to go along with some finesse post moves that he uses to score points in bunches. The 31-year-old uses his smarts and skills he has developed over the years to revert back to being a player teams need to worry about again.

“I am a much more skilled player now,” Stoudemire said. “My rookie year, I was a dominant and athletic player with less skill. Over time, I have studied the game so much that my IQ of the game is very high and I am much more skilled than before.”

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire Goran Dragic Mike Woodson New York Knicks Phoenix Suns

  • sunsn7

    Sucks that injuries have often derailed the “A” train with the Suns and now with the Knicks. No telling where he’d be if he remained healthy throughout his career but it’s great to see his current resurgence. He’ll always be on of my all time favorite Suns and still miss him to this day.

    But supported Sarver letting him walk from day 1 for the exact reason the Knicks are now regretting the 100 million guaranteed contract, just didn’t see his body holding up to the point of justifying the huge contract.

    Im sure he misses the Suns right about now.

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  • vtsunrise

    It’s wonderful to see Amare back in good health. I hope he can stay injury-free for the rest of his career.

  • vtsunrise

    I agree with all you said, sunsn7.

  • EBJM

    “My rookie year, I was a dominant player and athletic player with less skill. Over time, I have studied the game so much that my IQ of the game is more high and I am much more skilled than before.”

    I just love the grammar of kids straight out of High School or on and dones!

    “my IQ of the game is more high” ? Come-on, seriously? “More high” is what you get when you start high.

    How about this Amare’” “my IQ of the game is higher”? But it is still not at its’ highest because I don’t know how to play defense.

    The NBA, home of the idiot millionaires! BTW Amare, how much longer before mom smokes through your fortune? Will you put her back on the street to earn?

  • EBJM

    Somebody please make that idiot stop about Barbosa already. Suns three guard rotation is Dragic, Bledsoe and Green. Green has stepped up to most improved player of the year along with Markieff to keep the Suns in contention while Bledsoe was out.

    Remember, Suns are 44-29 and in 7th place due to Green and Markieff NOT Barbosa.

  • sunsn7

    ..or how about Frye swatting Amare’s shot into the “3rd role”??

    That was AH-some! :)

  • Jeffrey Sanders

    EBJM-

    Amare’s quote was typed out wrong on my end. My apologies for the error and it has been corrected.

  • sunsn7

    Hey Sanders?

    Dont apologize to that asshole, his comments were out of line in the first place! :D

  • EBJM

    Thanks Jeffrey but it could still easily apply to about one hundred others. Everybody has a right to make their money BUT could they at the very least learn to speak like Grant Hill before entering the draft?

    I see Sunsn7 is still “butthurt” playing the pivot point in last nights circle jerk.

  • sunsn7

    :D

  • sunsn7

    It’s all good EBJM just having some fun with you.

    It’s not as if you don’t like dishing it out ;)

  • SJose

    EBJM,

    How bout you worry about fixing inner city schools before complaining about their grammar? You’re out of line.

    Amar’e is, and will always be, a great Sun. Unlike Laker Nash.

  • http://none Go Phx

    Y’all are nuts. And who the hell cares about Amare Stoudemire? We are in the middle of a playoff chase here!

  • EBJM

    S Jose Por qué iba a perder el dinero de los impuestos duramente ganado en esos perdedores? Los padres deberían haber aprendido a hablar inglés ANTES nadando a través del rio bravo. Ahora va me fije unos nachos antes de que comience el juego!

  • EBJM

    Popovich has to be in the running for COY after their 17th straight victory last night. I mean this has to be his weakest roster ever yet they just keep winning.

    37 year old Tim Duncan
    31 year old Boris Diaw
    Kawhi Leonard
    Marco Bellinelli
    Tony Parker.

    Tiaglo Splitter
    Manu Ginobilli
    Patty Mills
    Danny Green
    Matt Bonner

    6′-10″ Jeff Aryes (Pendergraph) C/F
    6′-10″ Aron Baynes Center
    Corey Joseph
    Austin Daye.

    I’m a huge fan of R.C. Buford and his moves makes me sit up and take notice. He added some true bruisers to the end of his bench to make teams pay for beating up on the old man in the middle. Aryes/Pendegraph is a rebounding brute who would take Frye’s lunch money every game.

    A real surprising and little known signing is Aron Baynes, a 6′-10″ Australian bruiser. Not much of a skilled player he is the anti-Frye. He THRIVES on post contact and PUNISHES players for it.

    Loaded at PG with four, Buford sent #4, Nando De Colo, too slow for Pop’s taste, to the Raptors for unused Austin Daye. For those of you who don’t know Daye, see foreveris2long. He is one of his boys and Buford and Pops see the same thing in him and got him basically for free.

    Dayes has already caught Pop’s eye and has cracked a very deep rotation. He got 17 minutes last night.

    The big Aussie scored 4 grabbed 5 boards and blocked a shot in nine minutes.

    Spurs are built to play any style and will go ten deep any game. Suns might be better off with the Thunder because against those big brutes of the Spurs Frye becomes a HUGE liability.

  • Q

    Ebjm
    You use google translate? Because that sounds wrong

  • http://none Go Phx

    como se huh?

  • EBJM

    Absolute wrong, Google translator sucks. But the jist is
    I don’t care about all of this nonsense outside of basketball. Speaking is not that difficult and the majority of us learn to speak BEFORE we get to public school.

    If you are earning $100 million dollars hire a personal tutor to teach you how to speak. If Barkley lasted for 12 years or something speaking on TNT than almost anybody can learn how to speak.

  • EBJM

    I’ll man-up and explain my ire with Senor Jose trying to turn my comment into a U.S. infrastructure issue.

    I cannot listen to analysts such as Eddie Johnson or Gary Payton. Simply can’t.

    Where the majority of American children speak English fairly well by the time they enter public schools, there is a segment of our society that doesn’t because their parents aren’t in our country legally and English isn’t their primary language.

    So Senor Jose chipped in with his two-cents worth that it is the U.S. citizens responsibility to increase the budgets of the primary education systems of our country to address this issue. Along with providing them with free lunches, Medicaid, Temporary Aid for Needy Children (TANF), public housing, and now free tuition to college!

    Properly raised children can be taught to speak starting at about 18 months to two years old. That is NOT a U.S. government issue that certain people are more concerned with sneaking across the border to pop out their child than learning to speak English and using the front door.

    I’m done with this particular topic.

  • Sunsfansince90

    I’ll always love and have the upmost respect for STAT and wish him the very best.

    THE SSOL SUNS LED BY NASH AND AMARE WE’RE SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING YET HEAT BREAKING YEARS OF MY LIFE.

  • D.13

    Dude…

    EBJM-

    You do realize it’s difficult to get behind your point regarding bad grammar when your posts have run-on sentences, confuse than with then and include the phrase, “on and done,” right?

    I mean, seems like you should worry about your grammar first.

    Just saying.

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