Stoudemire promises to return to old self, Knicks to contend

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Amare Stoudemire has struggled this season.

He has not been nearly as explosive going to the rim, his midrange shot has fallen off (he shot 44 percent from 16 feet out to the arc last year, 36 percent this year) and he finds himself having to play off the ball now rather than being the focus of the offense (which means more spot-up jumpers, not his strong suit). Also, Stoudemire added 15 pounds of muscle last summer as he tried to strengthen his back and body so he would not wear down in the playoffs as he did last year. Throw in the untimely death of his brother and it has been a rough first half of the season for Stoudemire.

But he told Newsday things are going to be different in the second half of the season, he is shedding the weight and looking to attack more.

“All of that might have played a factor,” Stoudemire said. “There’s no excuse for that. I wanted to get stronger. I wanted to definitely heal my back. From a health standpoint, I feel great, but now it’s time to tune it up a little bit and play great basketball.”

He adds that the Knicks have a team that should be a threat in the East.

“We feel that we have enough on this team to win a championship,” Stoudemire said after practice Tuesday. “We have the right personnel, the right players and the right mind frame. It’s a matter of us going out and playing the right way. And if we do that, we can do something special.”

The Knicks need to get Stoudemire some touches in isolation and use him more as the roll guy in pick-and-rolls. Right now they have been using Tyson Chandler heavily in that role because he and Jeremy Lin have developed a fast chemistry (and Chandler is very good as the roll man) but the Knicks need to find a way to diversify the offense and use all their weapons.

And Stoudemire has to just start knocking down the midrange again.