Amare Stoudemire’s advanced stats show he’s the same player he was in Phoenix

Amare Stoudemire is putting up less efficient number with higher usage. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Amare Stoudemire is putting up less efficient number with higher usage. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Amare Stoudemire leading the New York Knicks back to legitimacy after years of failure is one of the best stories of this NBA season, except to those of us in Phoenix still longing for the glory days.

The Knicks enter Friday’s matchup against the Suns 20-14, seemingly locked into a top-six playoff seed five games ahead of Indiana and with a 96.4 percent chance of reaching the postseason, according to Hollinger’s Playoff Odds.

Much of the credit for this turnaround has been heaped on the man known as STAT. Like Steve Nash, I’ve been particularly impressed with the way Amare has embraced the bright lights of New York and become a real leader, which wasn’t always the case in Phoenix. It was just a few years ago when he told reporters to speak to the captains (Nash, Shaq and Hill) as to why the Suns were losing instead of him.

But he always spoke of wanting to be known like the LeBrons, D-Wades and Dwights of the world (ironic that two of them teamed up just as Amare became a franchise guy, no?), and he’s embracing that challenge with open arms. What was sometimes seen as fake bravado in Phoenix is seen as confidence in New York.

I still question how long this honeymoon period will last when New York fans aren’t happy with just being a fun regular season team and when not being terrible isn’t good enough, but there’s no question the Knicks are moving in the right direction.

Amid all this national talk of Amare’s rebirth in New York I kept coming back to the fact that by advanced statistical measures the Suns actually were often worse with Stoudemire on the floor than when he sat, and his plus/minus numbers once again aren’t exactly befitting of a MVP candidate.

According to Basketball Value, the Knicks are 3.76 points per 100 possessions better with STAT on the floor unadjusted and just 1.25 better adjusted. It probably comes as no surprise that the Knicks are much better offensively with Stoudemire on the court (averaging 113.00 per 100 with him playing and 102.18 when he sits) but worse defensively as well (110.39 with him but 103.33 without him).

The Suns last year were 1.23 points worse with Stoudemire on the floor unadjusted and -6.06 adjusted, playing better offensively but worse defensively with him. In the playoffs last year the Suns were 7.64 worse unadjusted and -13.37 adjusted, playing better offensively with him but much worse defensively.

In 2008-09 there wasn’t much a difference in how the Suns played when Stoudemire was on the floor and when he was on the bench but for once they were worse offensively and better defensively when he played. In 2007-08 things were a bit more normal with the Suns 6.29 points per 100 better unadjusted and -2.23 adjusted, but much better offensively with STAT and better defensively when he rested.

Wayne Winston crunched some numbers and determined Landry Fields has actually been far more valuable than Stoudemire. The Knicks are seven points better than average with Fields playing but nine points worse without him, while Winston has STAT’s adjusted plus/minus at +2. The Suns strongly considered Fields with their No. 46 overall pick in the second round and very well may have selected him if New York hadn’t already, so perhaps there should be some groans in Phoenix about his absence as well as Stoudemire’s.

As for Wins Produced, STAT has produced 3.1 wins with a 0.118 WP48, which is in the middle of what he did the last two years (0.140 last season and 0.103 the year before) but a good chunk worse than what he produced his three healthy years before that.

Amare is averaging 26.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game but he is taking almost five shots more than his career average and is shooting over 50 percentage points worse than last year from the field.

Stoudemire’s PER (23.85) is the highest it’s been since 2007-08 and is ninth best in the NBA (just behind Nash), but his usage rate is also at a career-high level, his true shooting percentage is the lowest it’s been since he was paired with Nash (and a good chunk lower than most of his years), and his rebound rate has only been lower twice his entire career. Only Rajon Rondo averages more turnovers per game than STAT’s 3.8 per contest and his turnover ratio has only been higher once since 2004-05.

This isn’t to say Stoudemire isn’t having a fantastic season. He’s just doing the same thing he’s always done just slightly less efficiently, without Steve Nash and in a bigger market that’s craving a winner. Amare Stoudemire put up better second-half numbers than almost every player in the NBA last season as he carried the Suns down the stretch, so watching him do something similar in New York really is no surprise.

The Amare story has blown up because it’s taking place in New York where they were awaiting The King but instead got a player who has always wanted to be the king of his own castle.

The Suns have clearly missed Stoudemire as a go-to scorer, a perfect pick-and-roll partner for Nash, and a guy whose hard rolls that often took a second defender allowed the 2009-10 Suns to become the best three-point shooting team of all-time with the line at that distance (they are eighth in the NBA shooting .037 percentage points worse this year). Many of this team’s problems would be solved by STAT, as not only have they suffered the predictable downgrade in offense at the power forward spot but they never upgraded defensively and on the boards.

There’s no doubt that Stoudemire is doing great things in the Big Apple, but taking a look at his advanced stats under the microscope shows he’s just a less efficient, higher usage version of the player who made the Suns much better offensively and worse defensively all these years.

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire

  • PZ

    “Stoudemire’s PER (23.85) is the highest it’s been since 2004-05 and is ninth best in the NBA (just behind Nash)”

    Well, no.
    It’s much lower than the last time he played a full healthy season alongside Nash and D’Antoni (2007-2008).

    • Michael Schwartz

      Apologies for the oversight on my part, that’s now corrected.

  • John V

    I don’t think the story is blown up because it’s taking place in New York. In Phoenix, many assumed Stoudemire was JUST the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Nash, and without Nash, his production would dwindle. So the idea that he’s “the same player” without Nash is actually a compliment.

    But he’s not producing the same, he’s producing more. That’s why PER considers usage rate. Dennis Rodman led the league in shooting percentage, did that make him a good shooter? The more your team depends on you to score, the more defenses focus on you, the more difficult it is to score efficiently. So, the fact that Stoudemire’s efficiency is close to what it was in Phoenix, without Nash and while carrying a larger burden of the offense, is very impressive.

  • KG

    Yes this maybe all true but when it comes down to it, Landry fields ain’t going to be demanding a double team! Throw all these numbers away because stoudemire causes so many problems for defenses that these stats don’t really show his affect on the court. Also, I’ve been saying he is doing nothing different then before! I predicted amares great season and if he continues to do what he does & the Knicks make the playoffs, he will be the MVP of the league! He’s going to have a monster game vs the suns, a 35 plus point game with about 13 rebounds!

  • aggy yule

    Seriously, you can only do so many of these efficiency calculations until you just have to look at the cold hard facts: the knicks are a better team this year and the suns aren’t as good. And the big reason for that is that they have STAT and we don’t. That’s the bottom line.

  • Steve

    It seems like most of the commenters so far are viewing this as a rip on Amare, but I don’t think that was what was intended at all. Not sure where anybody is reading that.

    Anyway, I’ll respond to some of the things that have been said so far. PZ is dead on about the PER thing. I don’t really care for Hollinger’s PER system as an overall rating of a player, but offensively, it’s a pretty dang good indicator of who the best players in the league are.

    Amare is the same player in the sense that his production levels have stayed the same, but the consequence of not being fed easy buckets from Nash and from NY demanding more of the load from him is that his efficiency has gone down. Efficiency is a lot more important than numbers. And the Knicks are a middling team in the East. They’re not fighting for a division title or in the hunt for being a contender. It’s not like one guy has made them legit.

    The Suns are worse this year for not having Amare. That’s obvious. Amare meant a lot to this team’s offensive success, and he also contributed quite a bit to its lackadaisical defensive attitude. If we look at this thing short-sightedly, we might think the Knicks got the better end of this, but we shed a lucrative contract for a talented player who is going nowhere. And hopefully somewhere in the process, our management realized that you need a couple of things to win championships (and STAT was neither): you need a swarming team defense, and you need a 2/3 who is an absolute killer. That’s all that matters for winning championships in the NBA. STAT is never going to be a part of that formula.

  • Steve

    Oh, and @KG, Amare isn’t going to be MVP unless the Knicks can pull off 54 wins or more, and I don’t thing that’s going to happen. Even if it does, we’re going to possibly have a few teams with 60+ wins. And we don’t even have to look at only the 60-game winners. How about Durant on a 58-win OKC plus a scoring title? Dwight Howard, defensive player of the year and MVP? Kobe? Dirk? There are at least five guys I would put over Amare at this point in time.

  • justin

    I have so many mixed feelings about amare, as a suns fan I loved when amare was her, he always dominated on the offense and created mismatches for a lot of teams. The main issue I had about amare was his defense and rebounding ability,let’s be honest he’s doing things on the defensive end for the knicks that he never did for the suns. The suns are hurting without amare for now, but the tide always turns, It’s still way too early to know if amare is going to dominate like this for the knicks for the next 5 years, what happens if he re-injures his knee’s? The suns will be fine,they may not be able to replace him right now, but sooner or later he will be replaced, just give it some time.

  • Steve

    I hope we don’t try to replace Amare, actually. What was the last team who won a championship with its dominant man being the four? And fyi, Duncan is not a four. He doesn’t play the four, he doesn’t guard the four. He’s just listed that way to get him onto the all-star team (just like Amare wasn’t really a five). PFs don’t win championships. SGs/SFs and true Bigs win championships. See: Jordan, Olajuwon, O’Neal, Bryant, Wade, Duncan/Ginobili).

    The Suns don’t need a four. We need a killer two/three and a competent big. Like I said before, Amare is NEVER going to be the centerpiece of a championship team.

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  • Nerd Numbers

    Awesome piece! I’ve been quite pleased with New York but have been stunned at how much of the credit Amare has gotten (Landry Fields, Felton, a healthy Gallinari are a lot of the success) Nice analysis, keep it up!

  • Friedman

    always i used to read smaller content which also clear their motive, and that is
    also happening with this piece of writing which I am reading now.