PDA

View Full Version : Espn Insider - Stoudemire


Dnowit41
06-06-2005, 01:44 PM
Congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs, who closed out the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night to advance to the NBA Finals for the third time in seven years. But before we close the book on the Suns' magical season, we have to recognize the awesome talent of Amare Stoudemire.

The 22-year-old man-child finished his season with an absolutely incredible conference finals series. Despite Phoenix's defeat, Stoudemire was unstoppable. He scored at least 30 points and shot at least 50 percent from the field in all five games, culminating in Wednesday's 42-point, 16-rebound explosion.

So dominant was Stoudemire that in the second half of Game 5, Phoenix's offensive strategy was to get him the ball and get out of the way. The Suns isolated him one-on-one against Tim Duncan íV an eight-time All-Defensive Team selection íV and Duncan couldn't stop him, with Stoudemire's 17 fourth-quarter points keeping Phoenix in the game.

In the five games, Stoudemire accomplished two impressive firsts. By averaging 37.0 points for the series, he broke Allen Iverson's record for the highest scoring average by a player whose team lost a best-of-seven series in five games or less, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He also had the highest scoring average ever for a player in his first conference final, a record previously held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Stoudemire's output for the playoffs as a whole are nothing to sneeze at, either. He averaged 29.9 points, 10.7 boards and shot 53.9 percent during the Suns' playoff run. In fact, he had the highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating, my measure of per-minute productivity) of any playoff performer to make it past the first round, narrowly surpassing the Spurs' Duncan and Manu Ginobili for the honor.

Offensively, Stoudemire is like a hybrid of Shaquille O'Neal and a young Karl Malone. Like Shaq, Stoudemire is an incredible finisher with remarkable athleticism for a man of his size. When he goes up for a dunk, opponents just get out of the way because they have no chance of blocking it. But he's also similar to the slender, athletic Malone who entered the league two decades ago. Like the Mailman, Stoudemire runs the floor at every opportunity, dominates with superior quickness and repeatedly cashes in on feeds from a great point guard.

Stoudemire is similar to Malone in another important respect: his work ethic. He could be a good player without ever taking a jump shot because he's so incredibly athletic, but he took things to another level this year by rounding out several rough edges in his game. Defenders used to be able to lay several feet off Stoudemire because he had no jumper, but Stoudemire repeatedly burned San Antonio by shooting 15-footers Wednesday night. As the Spurs' Robert Horry said after Game 5, "I never respected his jumper until this series."

With another summer of work on that foul-line jumper, Stoudemire should be even more difficult to guard next season. Even with defenders laying off him, most had trouble staying in front of Stoudemire when he took a quick step to his right and powered into the lane. This season he added a viable move with the left hand to keep defenders honest. Throw in the jumper, and it's an embarrassment of riches.

It's easy to forget that he's only 22 because his abilities belie his youth, but Stoudemire still is likely to improve in several areas. The two most important, from the Suns' perspective, are defense and rebounding. Stoudemire's defensive growth has been hindered by the Suns' system, in which he plays an undersized center instead of at his natural power forward slot. Additionally, Phoenix's lack of depth discourages Stoudemire from fouling, which means he sometimes concedes a layup rather than challenge a shot. Nonetheless, an athletic dynamo like Stoudemire should do better than 1.6 blocks per game.

The biggest puzzle, however, is Stoudemire's rebounding. Stoudemire is 6-foot-10, jumps as quickly as any player in the league and has great hands, yet his rebounding average of 8.9 per game is very modest for a big man. And he's shown no improvement in this area since he entered the league.

Here is where the comparisons to Shaq and Malone break down. Shaq pulled down more than 13 boards a game in his first two seasons, while the Mailman grabbed more than 12 by his third season. Stoudemire's average of 9.9 rebounds per 40 minutes ranks just 32nd among centers. Even softies like Raef LaFrentz (10.1), Rasho Nesterovic (10.3) and Michael Olowokandi (10.7) topped him.

Stoudemire had plenty of opportunities, too. Because the Suns play at a breakneck pace and rarely foul, Phoenix led the NBA by a wide margin in missed field-goal attempts by its opponents. Unfortunately, many of those misses ended up in the hands of opponents. Phoenix ranked 29th in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage, with only the lowly Blazers rating worse. That same weakness killed the Suns against San Antonio, with the Spurs gathering 14 offensive boards in Wednesday's clincher.

Stoudemire's board woes are even more baffling considering most players' rebound levels stay fairly constant from the moment they enter the league. However, the few exceptions all have something in common with Amare. Two examples are players who came to the NBA directly from high school and were thin, athletic types like Stoudemire. And they saw their rebound rates explode in their fourth seasons.

The first is Kevin Garnett. The Timberwolves' star is now among the best rebounders in the game, but he didn't average double figures in boards until his fourth season as a pro. The other is Chicago's Tyson Chandler, who was allergic to rebounds as a rookie but gradually improved until, like Garnett, he was among the game's best rebounders this season.

The Suns will need Stoudemire to make a similar improvement in his fourth season. If so, the MVP trophy might be moving a few lockers down next season. Stoudemire's explosion against San Antonio showed he can be the game's next dominant scorer, dropping 37 a night against one of the best defensive teams in NBA history. If he combines that with a nose for the ball on the glass, it's hard to imagine how anyone in the league could be better.

I believe he has the capability of being the next big thing. What do you guys think?

vjz
06-06-2005, 09:30 PM
Amare was awesome this season. Very, very good. The only thing I am unable to figure is how much Nash contributed to this? He was just good when Nash was injured, not great.

If he becomes as good as he was this year, without depending on Nash, watch out. I wouldn't be shocked if the Suns win atleast 5 championships during his career.

rakesh.s
06-06-2005, 09:42 PM
I know it's early BUT Amare has the chance to be the most dominant player ever at the power forward position, much like Shaq.

No one will be able to stop him..add this to the fact that he shoots over 70% from the line. If the suns get some depth, it's over.

poohrichardson
06-07-2005, 12:38 AM
Eh, I'm not sold on him until he can lead his team without Nash on the floor.. he seems to benefit from Nash's presence more than any other player in the league ever has (with regards to having a team mate make him better)..

aexchange
06-07-2005, 09:07 AM
Originally posted by: poohrichardson
Eh, I'm not sold on him until he can lead his team without Nash on the floor.. he seems to benefit from Nash's presence more than any other player in the league ever has (with regards to having a team mate make him better)..

agreed and he is still without a doubt the worst defender who is considered a superstar. and his all around game is pretty limited. i think in 3 or 4 years, he'll be really dangerous though.

sike
06-07-2005, 09:19 AM
Amare so reminds me of a young Shawn Kemp....with way more potential.....does anyone remember the young (pre 31 babies and 75lbs) RainMan dunking on anything that moves?

Amare is for real.

LRB
06-07-2005, 09:54 AM
Originally posted by: sike
Amare so reminds me of a young Shawn Kemp....with way more potential.....does anyone remember the young (pre 31 babies and 75lbs) RainMan dunking on anything that moves?

Amare is for real.

I was just thinking that myself. I remember after the sonics played the Bulls in the finals and how Kemp served up facial after facial. It even could be argued that Kemp had a better series than MJ, minus winning the trophy that is. And then the sperm starting coming out and the fat starting staying in. That's the thing about young talented but immature players. They can crash at anytime. Amare is ripe for this if he doesn't watch himself IMO. It probably won't happen for another 4 or 5 years if it does.

Amare has the potential to be a hall of famer. But likewise he as the potential to fizzle out early if he doesn't watch his ego and keep working hard year round and stay out of trouble. Booze, drugs, weight management, keeping in shape to stay injury free, and dozen of other things to worry about. I just don't see a lot of maturity in Amare's character right now. Hopefully he'll get some and not damage himselft before he does.

Misfit Mav
06-07-2005, 10:59 AM
Originally posted by: vjz
Amare was awesome this season. Very, very good. The only thing I am unable to figure is how much Nash contributed to this? He was just good when Nash was injured, not great.

If he becomes as good as he was this year, without depending on Nash, watch out. I wouldn't be shocked if the Suns win atleast 5 championships during his career.

At least five titles? He's going to be great, but he's got a long way to go just to become as good as Karl Malone or Charles Barkley were, and they never won a single title.

vjz
06-08-2005, 01:54 PM
Originally posted by: Misfit Mav

Originally posted by: vjz
Amare was awesome this season. Very, very good. The only thing I am unable to figure is how much Nash contributed to this? He was just good when Nash was injured, not great.

If he becomes as good as he was this year, without depending on Nash, watch out. I wouldn't be shocked if the Suns win atleast 5 championships during his career.

At least five titles? He's going to be great, but he's got a long way to go just to become as good as Karl Malone or Charles Barkley were, and they never won a single title.

OK, maybe I jumped the gun a litte bit i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif

But Amare was quite terrifying this season, esp. against the superb Spurs defense. He was unstoppable, and the Suns are gonna contend for a long, long time, if they don't screw up.

Bayliss
06-08-2005, 01:57 PM
Amare needs to learn to pass a little bit. Bird once called McHale the "black hole." Amare is far worse than McHale ever was at passing the ball to a teammate.. And he needs to improve his rebounding numbers.

LRB
06-08-2005, 02:13 PM
Originally posted by: vjz

Originally posted by: Misfit Mav

Originally posted by: vjz
Amare was awesome this season. Very, very good. The only thing I am unable to figure is how much Nash contributed to this? He was just good when Nash was injured, not great.

If he becomes as good as he was this year, without depending on Nash, watch out. I wouldn't be shocked if the Suns win atleast 5 championships during his career.

At least five titles? He's going to be great, but he's got a long way to go just to become as good as Karl Malone or Charles Barkley were, and they never won a single title.

OK, maybe I jumped the gun a litte bit i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif

But Amare was quite terrifying this season, esp. against the superb Spurs defense. He was unstoppable, and the Suns are gonna contend for a long, long time, if they don't screw up.


What good is being unstoppable if your team loses 4 out of 5 games in a playoff series? Amare may be a scoring monster, but that doesn't equal any championships. It should be noted that both Jordan and Chamberlain scored well under their highest PPG averages for a season when their teams won championships. So I would say there is a lot more to winning a championship besides being a scoring monster. Amare may be good for keeping the Suns playing longer in the post season, but he has to progress a lot more or Phoenix has to get a lot more talent if they want to start having ring ceremonies.

V2M
06-09-2005, 08:57 AM
Awww c'mon folks... he couldn't be all that good if that genius coach, Larry Brown, couldn't find any PT for him. i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif