Over at Grantland, Zach Lowe has been unimpressed so far with the progress of Amar’e Stoudemire, particularly on the defensive end of the court:
It’s early, and Stoudemire has shown blips of his old effectiveness as a scorer, especially in New York’s jolly good win over Detroit in London and its tough loss to Brooklyn Monday. But he’s looking so creaky on defense and the glass that it’s uncomfortable to watch. If this is the real Amar’e now, it’s going to be hard for New York to play him heavy minutes against stacked first-line offenses.
Brian DiMennaNow Lowe is smarter than I am — though I’m truly not that smart, I once got in a car accident because I was driving with dog poo on my foot — but I respectfully disagree. Yes, Stoudemire has not been exactly a revelation on the defensive end, nor as a rebounder, and at times he lacks the explosiveness that made him an elite offensive player. And sure, I have a very large soft spot for the guy that could overwhelm logic and reason, but I’ve still been pleased with the consistent progress Amar’e is making.
Tommy touched on this earlier and I think he was exactly right, but despite the disappointment of another loss to Brooklyn, we got a glimpse of how the Carmelo/Amar’e tandem could work and work well. There’s also no point in continuing to view Stoudemire through the prism of his contract, just because he’s earning max money does not mean he needs to perform like a max player — though, yes, it would be preferable — but given the state of the team, he looks well on his way to giving them exactly what they’ve needed, another offensive weapon off the bench and an ability to still score the ball when Melo heads to the bench.
To me, Stoudemire is improving and giving a sense that come the end of the year, this Knicks team has a chance to get better, something that will be essential if they are to actually contend. Is that the most optimistic way possible to view his return so far? I mean, yeah, but so what?