Stoudemire said he is experiencing soreness in both of his thighs and in his neck from the pounding he has taken over the first 24 games of the season. Stoudemire played 42 minutes in the win over Washington and is averaging 37.2 minutes per game, which is tied with LeBron James and Russell Westbrook as the 18th-highest average in the NBA.As we talked about yesterday on TKB.tv, there is no doubt whatsoever that Amar'e's conditioning is in the top percentile in the league. He's a freak. And 18th in minutes played isn't an overload. But, without question, the Knicks need to protect their main man.
But despite burnout concerns, Stoudemire said he wants the heavy workload.
"I work extremely hard in the offseason to stay in top shape," he told me, "so whatever Coach Mike D'Antoni requires for me, minutes-wise, I'm totally down for it."..."I just don't see the difference between playing 37 minutes per game and 35 or 34," D'Antoni said. "I've never seen the difference. I think they're fine with the minutes and we continue to monitor them and see how they feel. But they're going to have to play a significant bulk of the minutes. That's just the way life is. For us to be good, they're going to have to play a lot of minutes."
To me, it's a difficult position for the coach to be in. He had to win early on considering the upcoming schedule and the team did. They are a young team, but couldn't risk falling below .500 having players who weren't playing well during their minutes.
I hear a ton about how the coach doesn't develop players, but they forget that Landry Fields has developed ridiculously in this system. Sure, Fields is considered a steal, but if so many teams didn't even consider him draftable, who would have actually given him NBA minutes if he even made a roster? Credit Walsh for drafting the kid from Stamford, and D'Antoni for playing him.
Raja Bell was a pretty average 29 year old before he became a starter and serious contributor in Phoenix.
And for the record, Jeff Van Gundy never developed a player. He was interested in getting deep into the playoffs and knew the significance of experience.
If injuries begin to pile up and the Knicks hit the skids, D'Antoni could feel the heat play more players, but it's up to the players to make sure they communicate the need for some rest as well.
But make no mistake, this is about making the playoffs, so expect Felton and Amar'e to continue to be out there. The reward?
HUGE stats, and thus far this season, a bevy of wins.