Dissecting Amare Stoudemire

Perceptions split on how attractive the Suns forward really is

Amare Stoudemire TradeGate is about a week old, and in the time between the original news and now, there has been ample opportunity for the various pro- and anti-Amare camps to have their say. Thus far, the consensus is thus: Stoudemire is an incredible talent and an attractive player, but his attitude and ability make him too much of a trade liability. All of which is not to mention his contract, which could react $17 million by 2010-11. For that sort of money and an extension on the way, you've got to be sure.

Perhaps the most negative of the anti- camp is Sports Illustrated's Steve Aschburner, who claims that Amare's defense and rebounding are so questionable as to be prohibitive. (For the record, our own Tom Fornelli made this argument eloquently all the way back on Feb. 6.) That's the consensus about the Amare Stoudemire of 2008-09 -- that, while talented, he is lazy on defense and the offensive glass, and he's not nearly as productive as he could be.

What do the numbers say? FanHouse's Tom Ziller crunched and chopped and graphed Amare's numbers, and he was more ambivalent:

But there's good news for any prospective Amare buyer: it is all Shaq's fault. Despite Amare's slumping rebound levels, the Suns as a team are rebounding at a clip better than any time since the beginning of the Nash era. Why? It should be intuitive that having a massive, high-rebound center next to Amare might dampen his rebounding figures, right? But we ignore it. And Amare's offense -- how dare we question Amare's offensive skill. The man is No. 2 among active players in True Shooting percentage, despite a massive usage rate. His scoring is down largely because of the decrease in shot frequency, and that has fallen because of ... Shaq.

Likewise, Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton found that the Suns' offense -- and general team devolvement -- might be affecting Stoudemire on the offensive end in a disproportionate way:

If O'Neal isn't the problem, then why are Stoudemire's offensive numbers down? I think the explanation can be found in my playcall chart. Notice something missing? Where are all the high pick-and-rolls? The high pick-and-roll, run from the top of the key, used to be the foundation of the Suns' half-court offense. In this game, at least, it was an afterthought, primarily run out of "horns" sets with O'Neal and Stoudemire at either end of the free-throw line, giving Nash his choice of a screener.

Stoudemire is a gamble. If you know what you're getting, and you can compensate for it -- if the Bulls can keep defensive and rebounding stalwart Joakim Noah, for example -- Stoudemire can be a gigantic asset. If we overromantize him -- guilty as charged -- we'll only be left disappointed.

That is, if the Bulls actually trade for him. Fingers crossed. We guess.

Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.

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