On both ends of the floor, the Knicks are getting things done, and have hardly put forward a wrong foot in these opening games.
It's a long season, so you can't expect them to play this well every night, but something has clearly changed for the better in New York.
With Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith finally showing effort and serious improvements on both ends of the floor, there is little to worry about going forward.
Little to worry about besides the return of Amar'e Stoudemire, that is.
After a career-worst season in 2011-12, there's concern about how the forward will fit in once he recovers from his most recent injury.
Some are calling for Stoudemire to move to the bench, but whether they go to those extremes or not, the Knicks' current situation will help him to fit back in.
First and foremost, with the way the Knicks are playing right now, there's no need to rush STAT back. With Anthony doing well at the 4, the Knicks can let Amar'e rest as much as he needs, and ensure that he's 100 percent when he comes back.
Many of Stoudemire's problems last season came from nagging injuries that stayed with him for much of the way, so it's important the Knicks do what they can to prevent this injury from recurring moving forward.
Once he's back on the court, one of the main reasons that Stoudemire will return to form is the three-headed point guard monster New York has developed in his absence.
For his career, Stoudemire has been at his best in tandem with a good pick-and-roll point guard, and now he has three viable options to run the play with him in Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni.
Last season, Stoudemire struggled to get involved in the offense without a true point guard to set him up, and it really hurt him.
There seems to be a misconception with the Knicks that Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can't play together because they're too similar, but that really isn't the case. Melo is a player who can set himself up on offense, but Stoudemire relies on the help of others—simply put, he needs to be fed.
Stoudemire isn't, and never has been, a great isolation scorer, so the revamping of the point guard position should help him out big time.
Also significant, will be the impact that Mike Woodson will have on STAT once he returns.
So far in his short Knicks career, Woodson has found a way to get the very best out of everyone at his disposal.
Across the board, Woodson has his players committed to ball movement and strong defense, and he's even managed to get Melo and J.R. looking like different players with their increased effort in those facets of the game.
There's no reason to believe that Woodson can't instill similar changes in Stoudemire once he returns, if he hasn't already done so in training camp.
Late last season, when Woodson took over and led the Knicks to an 18-6 finish, STAT did start to show flashes of who he really is, scoring a lot more efficiently in the few games he played under Woodson.
At the end of the day, the Knicks have set up a perfect situation for Stoudemire to come back and have success. The only real question is whether or not Stoudemire has it in himself to return to form.
This is not the first time that he's faced adversity in his career, and it won't be the last. Stoudemire has come back from plenty of injuries before, and there aren't many players in sport who can come back as strong as he does time and time again with the type of injuries he's faced.
STAT is still a physical presence, even if his knees do betray him every now and then, and he should still be able to be an effective player once he returns.
This is the pinnacle of his career, and the best chance he has of winning a title before it's all said and done is with the Knicks over these next few years. One thing that you can guarantee you'll get from Stoudemire in this type of situation is his full commitment, a value which should not be underestimated.
Stoudemire is a guy who embraced the pressure of New York when he arrived here, and it's come full circle with the pressure now on him again to keep up with what the Knicks are doing without him.
It won't be easy, and there will be some trouble along the way, but if Stoudemire is that same resilient and passionate basketball player that we've come to know, things will eventually work out.
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