Amare Stoudemire the answer?
July 2, 2010 42 Comments
The first day of the NBA free agent frenzy did not possess the excitement that everyone had hoped it would. Even though a big signing did take place, with restricted free agent Rudy Gay re-signing with Memphis, none of the top guns made any noise on Thursday.
However, on day two Amare Stoudemire is reportedly close to signing a 5 year $100 million contract with the New York Knicks according to Yahoo Sports.
Not flying under the radar but at the same time not in the spotlight, Amare Stoudemire, just recently turned down a 5 year $96 million offer from the Phoenix Suns. In this star-studded free agent class of 2010, Stoudemire has been looking to land a max deal on a championship team. Amare Stoudemire is arguably the best power forward in the league when he is at his best, but in spite of this, I think it would be a big mistake for the New York Knicks if they do end up signing Amare to this big contract.
As the 9th pick in the 2002 draft, Amare Stoudemire has thrived under the Phoenix Suns’ run and gun offensive system. Throughout the years he has expanded his game greatly, most notably developing a now consistent 15 to 17 foot mid-range jump shot. As more of a face up big man, Amare is a great pick and roll player who has meshed beautifully with 2 time MVP point guard Steve Nash.
However, around the NBA, Amare is not just known for his dominance on the court. His mental and physical toughness as well as his intensity are constant question marks in his game, which make him one of the biggest dilemma’s in this year’s free agent class.
There are many good reasons to why teams should not shy away from Amare Stoudemire this off-season. Nevertheless, if your team is going for more than a quality regular season than Amare is not the player meant for you.
Defence. Despite being one of the game’s most dominant big men on the offensive end, Amare is one of the game’s worst big men on the defensive end. It is constantly mentioned that Amare has the ability to play good defence and it is just a matter of him putting his mind to it. Easier said than done.
Part of this problem probably stems from the fact that he played and developed under the Mike D’Antoni seven seconds or less system that allowed him to take plays off on the defensive end. On the other hand, as a top-flight NBA player, it should be Amare’s personal responsibility to take some initiative to make himself into the best possible basketball player that he can be. Even under new coach Alvin Gentry, who tried to instil a better defensive mindset for the Suns , Amare was still having games during the season and the playoffs where he was non-existent on the defensive end.
Potentially Amare could be an intimidating force in the paint, but currently he does not provide the intimidating presence that is a necessity for any championship team. Therefore, it will be a requirement for the the team that does end up signing Amare to either find a defensive stopper to fill the void left by Amare’s defensive incapabilities or to have one already in place.
Rebounding. The defence topic leads into this next reason why I would not take on Amare if I am trying to build a championship calibre team. Even though Amare Stoudemire has never averaged less than 8 rebounds in a season (except for 2005-06 where he only played 3 games), there has always been issues regarding his rebounding consistency. Just like his defence, Amare takes games off on the boards.
For example, in the first two games of the NBA playoff semi-finals versus the Los Angeles Lakers this year, Stoudemire had a combined 9 rebounds in two Suns losses. But in game 3 Amare exploded for 42 points and 11 rebounds in the Suns 118-109 victory. Also, in the that same series Amare had only 4 rebounds in each of the final two games.
There is no reason for a guy with Amare Stoudemire’s physical abilities to not be getting 8 or 9 plus rebounds night in and night out. I’m not sure if it’s that he is unable to bring it every night or that he just flat out doesn’t want to but either way it is a big concern from a front office standpoint.
Intensity. Amare Stoudemire’s game revolves around his ability to stay intense each and every game, which he has proven he is unable to do. Usually, Amare will get at least his 20 points on the offensive end, but as talked about above he does not bring the same focus each game. If you look at the stat sheet every game it would not be obvious that Amare is taking games off on the offensive end. However, if you watch him on a regular basis you will see that there are games where he is not getting to the free throw line and is regularly settling for jump shots.
Again, Amare is too physically gifted to be settling for jump shots during games. It would be impossible to ask of anyone to be 100% intense over an entire 82 game season, but you see a lack of intensity all too often with Amare Stoudemire.
You don’t see Kobe Bryant taking plays off very often let alone entire games off. Amare’s mentality does not scream championship player.
Steve Nash. Maybe the most talked about aspect of Stoudemire’s game is the possibility that he would not be close to the same player that he is considered to be without the distribution from Steve Nash. After a sort of resurgence last season, Steve Nash is still widely considered to be the best point guard in the league. He makes everyone around him a better player as he is always giving open looks and easy buckets to his teammates. Virtual nobody’s such as Raja Bell, Boris Diaw, and Channing Frye have all been given big contracts because of Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns’ style of play.
The question that teams have to answer when considering Amare Stoudemire is whether or not he can produce in a similar manner that he did while playing with Steve Nash.
Nash and Stoudemire had a seemingly telepathic connection sometimes. The way they worked the pick and roll to perfection and the deception of the dribble hand-off made the dynamic duo practically unstoppable at times. Amare Stoudemire has not had a season in which he has averaged less than 20 points in the time that Steve Nash has been around. Granted, Amare has only played 2 seasons without the assistance of Steve Nash.
Despite averaging 20.6 points and 9.0 rebounds in his sophomore season before Steve Nash arrived in Phoenix, I think that Amare’s game relies too much on Steve Nash getting him the ball. Moreover, the 3-point shooting that the Suns have possessed over the years spreads the floor for Amare and makes it so help defence is not as apparent as guys are in fear of deadly 3-point shooting.
There is no doubt that Amare Stoudemire is an absolute beast. However, his constant lack of defence, rebounding and intensity, combined with Steve Nash’s play at the point makes Amare a player who will not take the New York Knicks or any other team for that matter to the promimsed land. Obviously, it was inevitable that Amare would be signed to a big contract at some point, but the Knicks will be shaking their heads at their mistake in the years to come.
Amare Stoudemire is going to produce a lot of good things for the team that he signs with, but one thing that he is not going to produce is an NBA championship.
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