Amar'e Stoudemire looks fresh since returning from a knee injury 23 games ago, and New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson wants to keep it that way by restricting his minutes. Fortunately, his highly compensated power forward has no issues with his new role.
But what has made Stoudemire so good is his efficiency. One major aspect that has led to that efficiency is his shot distribution, which hasn't been this selective since his rookie season. Last season with the Knicks, Stoudemire only took 56.3 percent of his shots within five feet of the cup, according to the NBA.com Stats tool.
Stoudemire is shooting 56.9 percent from the field while taking 82.2 percent of his shots within five feet of the rim. He has only produced seasons with better field goal percentages in 2006-07 and 2007-08, both of which were of course aided by playing with Steve Nash.
It's impressive that Stoudemire, who turned into quite the reliable mid-range jump shooter as his body has lost the explosive athleticism of his youth, is reverting back to his ways as a rookie. Of course, he's doing it in different fashion nowadays after working with Hakeem Olajuwon in the offseason, as he told ESPN New York.
Add to that the fact that Stoudemire's skill set has matured to a great degree, and it makes sense:
"There's a lot more that I can really show," Stoudemire told ESPN New York. "There's pick and rolls, there's pick and pops, there's post-ups, there's jump shots. ... There are a lot of moves that I haven't quite showed yet."
On the interior, it's not as if Stoudemire isn't working for his own shots this season. He's being assisted by his teammates on 54.7 percent of his shots, the second-lowest number since the 2006-07 season, according to HoopData.com. Only in Stoudemire's first season with the Knicks was he assisted on a smaller percentage of his shot attempts -- that of course is because he was the go-to option.
With only 202 total shots taken through 23 games in 2012-13, the amount of data isn't extensive, but it's certainly enough to take away some key points.
Of those 202 shots, only 36 have been taken outside of five feet. And that's a good start for Stoudemire, who appears to be relishing the chance to evolve as he ages, all while realizing that his bread and butter has been -- and will always be -- using his strength to score on the inside.