What would be lost in an Amare Stoudemire trade

Posted by on February 8th, 12:21 pm

It is easy to nitpick what Amare Stoudemire can't do on the court, but don't overlook what he can do. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

It is easy to nitpick what Amare Stoudemire can't do on the court, but don't overlook what he can do. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

With the Feb. 18 trade deadline looming, the entire NBA world is wondering what will happen with Phoenix Suns big man Amare Stoudemire.

Endless rumors and speculation have taken the online sports world by storm. Everything from an Amare contract extension with the Suns to an almost-imminent deal with the 76ers has hit the rumor mill in the last month.

Amidst all of this trade speculation, it is easy to only focus on the negatives of STAT: The inconsistency on the glass, the sub-par defense, the laundry list of injuries and the financial commitment that would come with keeping Amare.

But while those things are certainly relevant, don’t overlook the things that Stoudemire does bring to the table.

How often does a guy come around that averages at least 20 points and 8 rebounds in six of his first eight seasons – one of which STAT was limited to three games due to knee surgery? How often is a player able to reinvent himself from a power dunker to a knock-down mid-range shooter in a matter of seasons? How many teams try so hard to get their hands on a multi-talented, athletic big man who can go off for 40 on any given night?

Amare is all of that and then some, and with his history of improvement, it would be ignorant to think he doesn’t still have room to grow.

After breaking into the league in 2002, he was nothing more than an athlete hungry to tear down the rim. But with time Amare evolved his game. First it was the touch around the rim, then the jump shot, now STAT is near automatic from 18 feet and in.  Although he is no longer a human-highlight reel because of a myriad of devastating injuries, Stoudemire has reinvented his skill-set accordingly.

He has gone from strictly a raw talent, to a multi-skilled big man amidst two major knee surgeries and a vision-threatening eye surgery. STAT has improved a new element of his game seemingly every season; maybe consistent defense and rebounding are next. But if you think Stoudemire is only a finesse player now, take a look at his recent poseterization of Denver Nuggets big Nene two games ago, the one step, no dribble throw down from the elbow against the Kings, and his second-place standing in dunks this season among NBA players.

He hasn’t been anywhere near elite status thus far — averaging 21.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game — but the Suns’ inconsistency has affected his averages a bit. However, when things are going right, STAT is up there with the Dirk Nowitzkis, Chris Boshs and TIm Duncans of the league, at least offensively.

Is it a coincidence that during the Suns’ current five-game winning streak, STAT is averaging 26.6 points, 10.0 rebounds per game and 1.2 blocks per game? Is it a coincidence that the Suns swept a road trip of at least four games for the first time since December of 2006 with Amare averaging 27.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game during that stretch?

Absolutely not.

Suns fans had no problem with the idea of sending him packing for a few youngsters, some expiring contracts and a pick or two when Phoenix lost seven of nine games. But now that the Suns look legit again, the idea of no more STAT tomahawk dunks or near-impossible And 1′s has to be a painful thought.

The man is a weapon, unmatched by very few others in the league. When motivated, he is arguably the best offensive big man in the NBA, period. He can hit the jumper from 20 feet on in, drive to the hoop from inside of the paint or out, and finish with contact as well as anyone in the league. Oh yeah, one other important detail: He is still 27 years old. He may not be worth max money, but with the right contract, he could be the building block to something special.

Blame it on his lack of defense, but pair him with a solid defender and that glaring defensive problem is patched up. Look at the impact Robin Lopez has had starting games alongside Amare. Not only has Amare flourished, but Lopez has been rock solid, and the Suns are playing arguably their best basketball of the season, and not just offensively.

The Suns have held their last four opponents — the Rockets, Nuggets, Hornets and Kings — to 42.6 percent shooting, well below the 45.6 percent Phoenix yields on the season. No, that does not mean that Amare is a defensive force by any means, but it does mean that the Suns can play defense against formidable opponents with STAT playing major minutes.

With all of that said, I am not advocating that the Suns not consider dealing Amare if the right deal comes around, as his contract situation along with the possibility of losing him for nothing next season is scary. But then again, players with STAT’s skills don’t come around too often.

Fans and analysts oftentimes focus solely on what certain players can’t do, but that shouldn’t exactly be the case. People want to see perfection, but only a few special players can be as well-rounded as the Kobes or LeBrons. Amare has fallen victim to this thirst for perfection.

Steve Nash is equally as atrocious on the defensive end, maybe worse than Amare, but you never hear people calling for his departure. Sure Nash has basically single-handedly propelled the Phoenix Suns franchise toward the NBA elite since coming back to Phoenix, but Stoudemire has also brought a slew of  good moments to the Valley of the Sun, just to a lesser degree.

This is one of those grass is greener on the other side situations. It is easy to look at the negatives of Amare’s game, but don’t forget what he can do on the court — which is be one of the most offensively explosive and efficient big men in the NBA.

Mike Schmitz

Mike Schmitz is a former ValleyoftheSuns writer who now works as an assistant video coordinator for the D-League\\’s Bakersfield Jam. He specialized in video breakdowns for VotS.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Phoenix Suns Rumors

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jim // Feb 8, 2010 at 7:42 am

    I don't think anyone would call Amare a bad player. If they do they are wrong.

    He just isn't a max-contract player. If he wants to stay for a reasonable amount of money, then I'm for it. If he wants 16 million/per, he isn't worth it.

    I think he's worth 11-13 million or so in today's market.

  • 2 Jake // Feb 8, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I totally agree, Mike. His offensive skills cannot be matched by anyone's. And we saw several times that he could play a decent defense as well when he was motivated. Maybe he needs to improve his mental as a pro.

    I don't like the idea that suns trade him for Iggy and Dalembert. Iggy is not a go-to guy like D-Wade or Brandon Roy, not even like Joe Johnson. 76ers marked .500 at their best when they are Iggy's team from 2006-2007 season. He is definitely young and talented, but not a future for suns.

  • 3 asani // Feb 8, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Suns need to resign this man bottom line. I don't want A.I at all with Dalembert it won't help the team like people think. You fans are failing to realize how bad the offense will struggle without a big man like Amare. It is ridiculous to let him go

  • 4 T-money // Feb 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Thats great..Take this article and pitch it to the 76rs. Trade him for Igoudala and Dalembert A.S.A.P. I will take two guys that play with heart and play defense over one offensive pre-madonna player who decides to try hard on the defensive end of the floor only when he feels like it ANY DAY. Throw in Barbosa or J-Rich whoever it takes to make it happen.

  • 5 T-Money // Feb 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I’m going to have to disagree with ya. The Suns did not have Amare for the 2005-2006 season and still had 54 wins with only 28 losses. I think with the departure of Amare the Suns would be in a mode to play team basketball. Team meaning not relying on one player to score most of the points. The real star on the Suns is Steve Nash he makes everyone around him better. As for Igoudala he is a team player who is averaging 17 pts per game, 7 rebounds per game, and almost 6 assists per game at the small forward position without someone like Steve Nash to dish the ball to him. Also Dalembert can run the floor at the center spot, rebound the basketball with 9.8 rebounds a game, as well as 2.2 blocker per game. We will be a lot tougher, more well balanced with offense and defense, and a TEAM who can spread the ball around even more.

  • 6 Chucko // Feb 8, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    “with the right contract, he could be the building block to something special.”

    That phrase boils down the suns problems to it’s core.

  • 7 Big Ben Parliment // Feb 8, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I totally agree with this article. Many NBA Basketball are really just fans. They know nothing about the “SPORT” of basketball. If Suns trade Barbs/Stoudemire for Iggy/Sam they will need to change their entire offense. Iggy does not hit threes which is required from a Suns two guard and there will not be a solid scoring big man on the roster. Sam and Lopez cause a log jam at the five.

    Amare’s defense would look better if he had more defensively skilled players around him. J. Rich is one of the worst help defenders in the league and is often lazy, Nash can’t stay in front of anyone, and Fry has the defensive aggressiveness of a 6 ft 170 lb player. Amare is always playing help when perimeter defenders get beat. This brings him away from the hoop where rebounds occur and gets him into foul trouble, then he has to play off his man and shy away from help assignments. Furthermore he exerts alot energy on the offensive side were he constantly runs the floor and goes to work taking 14 plus shots a game. Amare at times does lack intensity on the boards and on defense, but there are times when he does give 100%, but still has problems due to his ball clubs defensive deficiencies.

  • 8 Mike // Feb 9, 2010 at 3:58 am

    It’s a tough one. I’d say keep the guy, see how far we get, and deal with it later since he’s probably going to opt-in anyway. Losing Barbosa to Philly would be pretty stupid.

  • 9 The Z. Man // Feb 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Mike – that is correct.

    Loss of LB has hurt the Suns both last year and this year.

    To make that loss permanent would just be dumb. Think about what it would do to Nash and the chemistry of the team. Suns are at their best when LB teams up with Nash.

    MUST start and also finish with LB. Let's go SUNS!!!!

  • 10 BIG sixer fan // Feb 10, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    COME TO THE SIXERS PLEASE !!!!

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