D'Antoni: STAT can be a 3-point 'weapon'

NEW YORK -- When training camp started, Amare Stoudemire was asked what part of his game he worked on during the offseason. He said that every season he looks to bring something new, and this time it was to improve his ball control, especially making moves to the basket.

But there was something else he forgot to mention, which he demonstrated during practice and showed the basketball world Sunday night for the Christmas Day season opener.

In the Knicks' 106-104 win over the Celtics, Stoudemire was 2-for-2 from 3-point territory, matching his career high. You gotta love Mike D'Antoni's offense sometimes. When Carmelo Anthony arrived, he thrived with having the green light to shoot from distance. Now, can STAT do that? D'Antoni said to expect a downtown duo because he considers Stoudemire a viable 3-point option. He even went on to compare his power forward to two of the NBA's best perimeter drainers.

"I don't want to exaggerate it, I don't want to fall in love with it, but at the same time it's a weapon," the head coach said. "Both [Melo and Amare] can shoot the ball extremely well from three. Amare is more, if you get out here and just line him up and let him shoot, he's one of our best 3-point shooters.

"I don't want him to hang out there all the time, but there are times that he, like Dirk Nowitzki and all those guys, can step back and take one, yeah. That's what Kevin Durant does. Why can't Amare do it? They're about the same size. Again, it's just finding the niche and finding the blend between [Melo and Amare]."

While Durant and Nowitzki have not only shot the long ball more consistently and accurately in their career, 35.8 and 38.1 percent, respectively, don't count out Stoudemire (26 percent) from having a stronger season beyond the arc. In 2010-11, in only 23 3-point attempts, he made a career-high 10 of them (43.5 percent). The numbers were low because he was playing alongside stretch four Danilo Gallinari and the team had no other down-low presence. Stoudemire was asked to do a lot more within 15 feet of the hoop.

Now with Anthony and Tyson Chandler on board, Stoudemire, who's already one of the best midrange shooters in the game, will have deeper opportunities available. Stoudemire has the shooting stroke, arm strength and work ethic -- just look at his body, for one -- to drop three feet back and become a legitimate threat when left open.

It all comes down to situational repetitions, which Stoudemire was getting in after practice. Once the Knicks broke from their final group huddle, signaling practice was over, Stoudemire walked over to the neighboring court with an assistant coach to work on two moves: 1.) popping out to the baseline corner; and 2.) stepping into the 3-point shot from the top of the key and both wings, a D'Antoni seven-seconds-or-less favorite. So watch out, folks. Not only that, Melo, the point-forward, has got his eye on STAT.

"Yeah, yeah, he's been working on that," Anthony said. "If I see him open, I'm passing it to him. I've got the confidence in him that he can make that shot. I want him to shoot like he's knowing that shot's going to go in."

Get the campaign rally started: STAT for the 2012 3-point contest!

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