Amar'e Stoudemire, Seventh Man of the Year?
No such award exists in the NBA. But if it did, Stoudemire would be head and shoulders ahead of the competition.
The Knicks' $100 million man continued his stellar play off of the bench on Saturday night with 21 points in 21 minutes in the Knicks' rout of the Kings.
"The young man is playing at a high level," Mike Woodson said after Stoudemire hit all 10 of his shots against Sacramento. "He's doing it inside and outside, he's been great."
Saturday was Stoudemire's 10th straight game in double figures. He finished one make shy of tying the Knicks' record for field goals made without a miss. (Bernard King and Johnny Newman each went 11-for-11).
"The game is becoming easy," Stoudemire said. "Players are having a hard time figuring out how to play me in the post."
Saturday was just the latest example of Stoudemire's efficiency.
He's hit 22 of his last 27 attempts, and he's 52-of-77 (67.5 percent) in his last eight games.
"He's getting his legs back and his confidence back," Steve Novak said. "It's huge to just throw it into him like that and watch him work."
The Knicks were up by 50 at one point on Saturday and won by 39. But don't let the final score fool you. They may not have won this game without Stoudemire.
New York missed 12 of its first 13 shots and trailed, 13-3, after six minutes.
With Stoudemire on the floor, the Knicks outscored the Kings 22-9 to finish the first quarter.
And the power forward was in the middle of all of it.
On his third trip down the floor, Stoudemire finished a fast break with a thunderous right-handed dunk, courtesy of a Carmelo Anthony feed.
On the Knicks' next possession, Stoudemire set a screen for J.R. Smith, rolled to the basket, hit a driving layup and got fouled. He pumped his fist and walked along the baseline, soaking in another loud ovation from the MSG crowd.
"It feels great to provide a certain amount of energy to get us over the hump," he said.
The 6-foot-11 power forward drew attention from Kings defenders in the post throughout the night, which in turn opened up several open looks for the Knicks on the perimeter, particularly on the weak side.
It's no coincidence that the Knicks hit seven of 11 threes in the first half when Stoudemire was on the floor and finished with 19 makes from beyond the arc, one shy of a franchise record.
"They were paying a lot of attention to our post up with Amare...and we were open," Novak said.
If he were playing starters' minutes, Stoudemire could be putting up numbers reminiscent to early 2010-11, his first year in New York. Back then, he was in the early-season discussion for MVP.
Now, he's one of the league's most dangerous sixth (or seventh) men.
And just in case you're wondering, it doesn't sound like Woodson plans to insert Stoudemire into the starting lineup anytime soon.
"I'm not real worried about that. I'm really not," Woodson said. "We're winning the way we are right now. I don't see anything wrong with that."
After a night like Saturday, it's hard to argue with the coach.