Friday, September 23, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #19

Amare Stoudemire: The NBA's Resident Beast

By now there isn't much I can write about Amare Stoudemire that would surprise you. We all saw the numbers he posted in the '04-05 regular season and watched in absolute awe of his performance in the Playoffs. In the Suns’ Western Conference Finals loss to the Spurs, Amare averaged a cool 37.0 and 9.8 on Tim Duncan and co before bowing out in 5. The kid (just 22) is an absolute freak of nature, flying onto the NBA superstar radar faster than he can throw down a dunk over Pape Sow. We know this, we recognize this, so what else is there to talk about? Well, a few years ago during Yao-mania, none of us quite knew what to expect out of Stoudemire. Entering the league straight out of Cypress Creek High School, Amare was a mere afterthought compared to Yao and the other seven players taken ahead of him in the '02 Draft. Today, he's positively the best prospect from that crop (including Yao) and if his progression tells us anything so far, it's that he's still got a ways to go. So the question is, what were teams thinking three years ago? Maybe it’s the fact that scouts and GMs were too focussed on jump shooting, “upside”, raw talent, court vision, and all that crap. What they failed to recognize (and continue to do so) is that players’ will to win/compassion for the game can carry them just as far as Jay Bilas’ famous “upside”. Four teams ignored it in ’95 in passing up Kevin Garnett. 12 organizations did it when Kobe Bryant fell to 13 in ’96. And now we’re starting to see the same with Amare. When all is said in done, I’m afraid those eight GMs will be kicking themselves just as hard as those select few who passed on KG and Kobe.

Take a look at Amare's pre-draft card courtesy of

NBA Comparison: Ben Wallace

Strengths: Nasty! Unbelievable physical specimen with intense desire and aggressiveness. Shotblocker/rebounder extraordinaire, takes the ball to the basket with authority and tries to dunk EVERYTHING. Like a man amongst boys on the HS All-Star Camp level, against the cream of the prep crop, to the point where it becomes laughable. Has persevered through tough times living with AAU coaches and friends while his mother was incarcerated.

Weaknesses: Offensive game is still very raw. Because he is able to overpower everyone he faces, developing any perimeter game has been pointless. His handle and jumpshot must improve. Developing better moves around the basket.

Three years later, can we say much, if anything has changed in Stoudemire’s game? Reading that profile, I can see why teams strayed away from him. A 6-9 PF with a relatively weak jumper who tries to dunk “EVERYTHING”. Players like that usually don’t pan out well, just as Chris Wilcox, who just happens to be the guy the Clippers nabbed right before PHX took Amare. But nowhere on this player profile does it discuss his competitive nature. Maybe the writers shied away because it’s such a hard characteristic to judge. We hear it all the time from analysts and coaches about how “this guy has such competitive fire, it’s incredible”. Really? Well I’d expect every player at the pro level to play competitively on a nightly basis. Those who do not should take their rightful spot on the bench next to the assistant trainer. But what I see in Amare is a passion that enables him to carry his game to new levels. Players like Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki are great basketball players and usually perform at spectacular levels. But they don’t have what Amare does, that spark, that gift that will and already has allowed him to get better every time he sets foot on a basketball court. Grant Hill had it at Duke and early on with Detroit. Of course MJ had it, as did Larry and Magic. Those who display this edge now: Iverson, Shaq, Kobe, and the very best example, Garnett. These guys just have that will to win, the fire that makes them and their teammates better, every night and ultimately, every season. I saw it in Amare for the first time this past June. It didn’t matter to him that his Suns were getting hammered by the eventual champs. Just like he didn’t let his mother’s incarceration slow him down. Just like on Draft 2002 when he sat in the Green Room for eight picks until David Stern called his name. Nothing gets to this kid because his heart, his fire, and his competitive nature won’t let it. That’s what creates superstars in this league and I don’t think I’m alone in predicting that Amare Stoudemire will be (if he’s not already) the NBA’s next superstar. This season we get to see yet another step in that progression towards stardom and perhaps one that will get his Suns to the Finals. If not, don’t expect it to get him down. Nothing has so far.


At 7:44 PM, Blogger EZ Snappin said...

I remember there being some questions about off the court character - not his but his family (I believe his mother and step-father/mother's squeeze), and that nobody was really doubting his skills. Regardless, he seems to be mostly together (maybe even very together, by NBA standards) off the court and is just a pleasure to watch on it. It's like a quicker Kemp who actually wants to improve.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger asdf said...

My comment has nothing to do with Amare, but you saying that Garnett is the best example of someone who has competitive nature. You said it's someone who makes his team better. I'm pretty sure Garnett has only been out of the first round once in his whole career, and even then they had to bring in big time help in Cassel and Sprewell to do that. If you are going to pick someone who's competitive on a losing team, at least go with Iverson as the best example. But as for me, I'm going with Duncan. When it counts he brings it.

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

Regarding competitive nature, I think these players you mentioned show it a lot on the outside, especially Garnett and Iverson, with facial express and etc and thus seem more competitive and giving that spark. Other players who seem more stable they can also be really competitive, altough they dont show it a lot in the outside like Amare does. So, i'm saying that I think sometimes that Garnett, Amare and Iverson are a bit overrated in terms of being competitive. Its almost seems to me that they cant handle circumstances while in this competitive mode. I think these guys are just more emotional (maybe overly emotional) and that isn't really a good thing in my opinion. These 3 guys all didnt go to college or quit early on and it shows a bit. Because I think this competitive mode is more on the outside rather than inside. At least, I think they have more problem controlling themselves under pressure. You guys dont agree?

But what a monster Amare is turning out to be. I think he's a type of player his opponents really fear. I mean, how the hell are you going to defend against him? He can dunk on ANYONE. Their only hope is to double team him because he's a terrible passer, a bit foul prone, sometimes gets too "competitive" and is an awful free thrower.

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

But, I totally agree with ds. Garnetts' competitivity and ability to make other better his so overrated. I also agree that Duncan's approach is much better. The quite type who everyone can trust and always performs, while not being like a Schizo on the outside under pressure.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger DCI74 said...

After the display Amare put on in the playoffs he will definitely be one of the most-watched players this season, probably more than Lebron because LJ hasn't seen the playoffs yet. Good players make the All-Star team but great players make the playoffs and the best win. Amare's had a playoff taste and he will be hungry for more.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Wow, I'm a little shocked at some of these comments. You're telling me Kevin Garnett breaking down on national television doesn't show extreme competitive nature? The fact that he was working so hard and his teammates could give a shit caused him to cry on TNT. How many pro athletes cry? And how many cry because they are playing so hard and not seeing the results that it kills them? If that doesn't show you guys something perhaps you need to watch professional sports a little more closely. Remember that there are 11 others players on a team besides that one individual. Yes the competitive nature of KG, AI, and Amare all make their teams better, but only if their teammates choose to follow that lead. I guess I should have spelled that out more clearly. Oh and Joe, Iverson went to Georgetown. Look it up, it's true.

PS-KG did make that Minny team better last year. Just because they didn't make the Playoffs it didn't mean he didn't make them better. His teammates were assholes. Cassell, Spree, Zerb, Kandi man, c'mon guys. That team would have won 25-30 games without KG.

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

Well, maybe thats not the best way to put it. I only say that they were overrated in terms of being competitive. But the main thing I said was that this competitivity isn't getting them anything and it isnt a good thing that they are so emotionally unstable. You're telling me that KG crying on live TV is a good thing?? I dont think its a good thing. It doesn't win basketball games. You're telling me that KG screaming like an idiot during basketball games is a good thing? It just shows that he has a hard time controlling this pressure. Im not trying to take anything away from im, this is the way I say this.

Anthony, you know I said "These 3 guys all didnt go to college or quit early on ...". True, Iverson went to Georgetown, but for only a two years, look it up, its the truth :)

At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

But, I agree that this competitive nature can make their teammates better.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger birdy said...

I disagree about the players you named and their competitiveness. Amare is young but he is not Ben Wallace. He is closer to Shawn Kemp because Ben does make an effort to play a semblance of DEFENSE. KG and AI are great players, but something is not working with their fierce "competitive" attitudes. I think that maybe you are confusing emotion with competitiveness. Duncan is competitive. There may not be much smoke in the furnace, but there is fire in the hole. He makes every team mate on his team better.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Competitive: spirited, blood-thirsty, aggressive. Not AI or KG? Okay, maybe when their sleeping. I'm not saying Amare is God right now, but rather that he has the skills along with the competitive nature to continue his progression as an NBA superstar. Birdy, you really went out on a limb using Duncan as your example. Winning and competitive nature do not go hand-in-hand because success relies upon a team and not one individual. All I said is that those guys make their teams better due to their fire. Being an animated player doesn't necessarily equate to competitive fire. Duncan never says a word so does that mean he doesn't have the same fire as KG? No, perhaps it just means he doesn't need to be so exuburant on the court. KG and AI may need to display their emotions to capture their A+ games. Okay, so Amare isn't Ben Wallace on the defensive end of the floor. But let me ask you, 3 years out of college, where was Ben Wallace? He wasn't the Def POY, I'll tell you that much. Players need time to grow. Some need fire, others do not. KG and AI need it, so does Amare. They use it to their advantage, that's all I'm saying.


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