Is Amare such a bad defender and rebounder?

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Is Amare as bad of a rebounder as you may think? (AP/Duane Burleson)

Amare Stoudemire possesses a vast offensive repertoire, complete with an inside power game boosted by his off-the-charts athleticism and a developing outside jumper he hits on a consistent basis.

But many people believe the reason Amare is on the trading block is because of the defense and rebounding he gets such a bad rap for.

Listening to the way the average Suns fan talks about Amare’s defense and rebounding you would sometimes think he’s the worst defender and rebounder on the planet.

We all know his effort wavers at times on the boards and his help defense certainly leaves something to be desired, but I wanted to know what objective statistical analysis had to say about the man known as STAT.

For that I entrusted the help of stat guru Brett Hainline, who runs the TrueHoop Network’s Bobcats blog, Queen City Hoops.

Hainline built a program that takes box scores from every game this season (in this case through Sunday’s Detroit contest) to figure out who the player in question was probably guarding based on the height, weight and positions of the players on the floor. (See chart, below)

The numbers show the player Amare guards averages 0.4 points per 40 minutes less than usual based on the weighted average of his season stats, including 0.9 less when Amare is at power forward and 0.6 more when he’s at center.

Amare’s guy scores just 18 percent of his team’s points, shoots 45.5 percent from the floor and grabs 0.2 more offensive rebounds per 40 than expected but 0.6 less defensive rebounds per 40.

Amare, meanwhile, scores 22.5 points per 40 minutes, which is seven more per 40 than he gives up due to his stellar 61.1 percent true shooting percentage.

Granted, this kind of analysis does not take into account help defense, which we all know isn’t a Stoudemire strong suit by watching him play, but in terms of pure one-on-one defense he might not be as bad as we all think.

Plus, you have to contemplate how much his offense outweighs his defense, and seven points per 40 minutes is no small margin.

According to 82games.com, that ties Leandro Barbosa of all people for the best mark on the Suns and puts him 20th overall in the league. Last year Amare led the Suns by creating 9.5 more points than he gave up and the year before he ranked second behind Steve Nash at 7.6.

As we move on to the rebounding portion of the program, I’d like to take a moment to point out Amare’s career rebounding numbers.

This year he ranks tied for 20th in the NBA averaging 8.2 boards per contest. He ranked 18th at 9.1 last year, ninth at 9.6 in 06-07, 17th with 8.9 in 04-05, 18th with 9.0 if he had qualified in 03-04 and 13th with 8.8 as a rookie in 02-03.

They may not be elite or up to Amare’s potential, but they certainly aren’t terrible numbers.

I think the biggest issue the Suns have with Amare’s rebounding is the inconsistency of it. He has a game of 20, two of 15 and two of 14 this season, but he also went 10 consecutive games in January without a double-digit board game.

The fact that before Friday he had not boarded in double digits in a game he didn’t score at least 20 in shows when he’s active in the offense he’s more likely to be active on the boards.

And then there’s that nugget he said after Friday’s game about him and Shaq deciding that the Shaqtus would clean up the boards on some days so Amare can get out and run. You can look at that as searching for an excuse, but I believe there’s some truth to that, and in any case we know Shaq has taken away from some of STAT’s boarding potential this season.

The stats say Amare grabs 6.6 defensive boards per 40 minutes and 2.3 offensive rebounds. That is 0.8 defensive rebounds more per 40 than the guy he is guarding and 0.8 less offensive boards.

Amare secures 18.2 percent of the available defensive rebounds and 7.2 percent of the available offensive boards.

What all these numbers mean is that even in a down year Amare is one of the better players in the league at scoring more points than he gives up, and although he’s a pretty poor help defender he’s not terrible playing defense one-on-one.

Also, although his rebounding numbers aren’t as high as they should be for a 6-foot-10 freak of nature and he sometimes seems disinterested on the glass, it’s inaccurate to call him a terrible rebounder, statistically speaking.

A word of caution to the Amare bashers out there, sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

A breakdown of Amare's stats through Sunday's Detroit game courtesy of Brett Hainline/Queen City Hoops. (Click to enlarge)

A breakdown of Amare's stats through play Sunday courtesy of Brett Hainline from Queen City Hoops. (Click to enlarge)

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Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire

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