Opening Tip: What was up with STAT?

Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: Many people thought Amar'e Stoudemire's struggles last season were a sign that he was on the decline. Was it instead an aberration?

Last year was a forgettable one for Stoudemire.

He averaged near career lows in points per game (17.5), rebounds (7.8) and field goal percentage (48.3).

After Monday's game against Detroit, Stoudemire's 11th straight scoring in double figures, the Knicks' $100 million man made a bold statement: he said that his 2011-12 season should come with an asterisk.

"Last season was a lockout," he said. "I wasn't able to get in top shape in the offseason like I wanted to, we never knew when the season was going to start.

"I was recovering from a back injury all summer so I wasn't able to play any contact sports. I couldn't play basketball that whole summer.

"So last year is one of those years where I put an asterisk under it. But I feel much better this year than I did last year."

So far, so good.

Coming off of the Knicks bench, Stoudemire has averaged 22 points and seven rebounds per 36 minutes in 16 games.

Mike Woodson has cited Stoudemire's improved post play as one reason for the turnaround.

"Amar'e's a different player. He's not that one dimensional guy," the coach said. "He's not that pick-and-pop guy, that pick-and-roll guy. The fact that he's put work in over the summer to develop a low post game, that's helped him, that's helped us."

And that leads us to our question: Is Stoudemire, with his new post game, back to being an effective player? Was last year, as he suggests, just an aberration? What do you think?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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