Over at Posting and Toasting, Joe Flynn has a nice overview of the helpful effect Amar’e Stoudemire’s return has had on the Knicks’ offense and he shares my enthusiasm for the change in trajectory of the season it has given. Even off to a fast start, there was the worry of the effect Stoudemire’s return might have on the team’s play, but with that worry almost all but alleviated, it’s time to consider exactly how well it might work. Flynn flags two areas in which STAT has managed to turn weaknesses into strengths, offense rebounding and getting to the line:
Before his return, the Knicks’ team offensive rebounding percentage was 23.8%, among the lowest marks in the league. In the 15 games since, the Knicks’ team ORB% has jumped to 28.3%, above league average. You know what that means: it’s finally time to put the tired old “Knicks can’t rebound” trope out of its misery. The Knicks are now above average on the offense glass. And what about defense? I dunno…how does number one in the NBA in DRB% sounds to you? That’s right, the Knicks are the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA. It’s hard to get better than best, people. So rest in peace, Knicks-Can’t-Rebound Trope…I do believe Charles Barkley should deliver the eulogy.
Amar’e's 4.9 free throw attempts per game would be among the twenty-or-so best rates in the NBA, if he had enough minutes to qualify. It never hurts a team to add a player who is top-20 in the league in an important skill the team itself doesn’t do particularly well.
I’d recommend reading the whole thing as it’s certainly worth a smile, and there’s lots of other good nuggets in there, as well, but I’d also like to echo the sentiment. Yes, it’s still early in his return, but the success of Stoudemire’s re-integration back into the lineup is, to me, a cause to begin raising expectations about what might be accomplished this season. Maybe not for you, guy already standing outside to ensure a good spot for the parade, but you know, for everyone else.