Since the day the New York Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire, some of the most knowledgeable NBA fans I know claimed that the five time All Star won’t be effective without Steve Nash. Guess what? They’re wrong.
Between 2004, the year Nash joined the Suns, and 2010, Stoudemire played a total of fifteen games away from his go-to point guard. However, combining that to the 2003-04 season (when Nash was in Dallas) and those fifteen games can give real insight into the future of Stoudemire.
(The totals of Stoudemire’s first season can be thrown away. He got limited minutes in the 2002-03 season and no one was sure in Phoenix if their new rookie could be accountable.)
There is something to expect of Amar’e with the Knicks, many New Yorkers just don’t know what it is. Based on his statistics without Nash, it is expected that Stoudemire put up the same numbers he did on the Suns. While that’s surprising – it shouldn’t be. I’m not saying the Suns won more when Nash didn’t play (they didn’t) or that Amar’e was the most important player on the court when Nash’s presence left the floor (he wasn’t), what I’m arguing however is that Amar’e does not need Nash in order to succeed.
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How is success measured for Amar’e Stoudemire?
Simply enough: in points and in rebounds.
Amar’e is a leader on the court, but it’s his ability score and get the ball off the rim that can be measured.
In those fifteen games, Stoudemire averaged 23.2 points per game without Nash, dropping over twenty-five points nine times. Throughout his career, STAT has averaged 21.2 points per game. It is obvious therefore that based on his career, Stoudemire is actually better off when Nash isn’t there. Similarly, Amar’e has averaged 8.46 rebounds per game without Nash. Throughout his career, he boasts 8.9 reps per contest.
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However, there is more than just fifteen games of sample material in which stats can be gathered.
What about before Nash joined the Suns?
A point guard is essential to the modern era of basketball. That’s fact. But does the point guard need to be MVP quality for Amar’e to play well? That remains to be seen. The starting guard for the Suns of 2003-04 was Stephon Marbury. At that point in his career, he wasn’t washed up and playing for a Chinese team.
However, with Marbury in the season of ’04, Amar’e averaged 20 and 9, further proving that Amar’e can be effective without Steve Nash. Mind-boggling, I know.
What about Raymond Felton – how does he play into the equation?
In many ways, Stoudemire is dependent on the point guard – someone to consistently dish him the ball. But what is misunderstood is that the point doesn’t need to be All-Star caliber in order for him to be effective. Rather, under D’Antoni’s system, the man bringing up the ball only needs to be efficient in the pick-and-roll and getting the ball to Amar’e.
Having played with just Marbury and Nash, Stoudemire’s worst point guard ever will be Raymond Felton… and that’s saying something. Felton has put up consistent numbers in an offense that tried to take him away from what point guards enjoy most: running the floor and being a leader.
The difference between Felton and Nash is wide, but for Amar’e it shouldn’t matter. Over their respective careers, Nash boasts two more assists per game than Felton, however the latter has had a much more difficult path getting them. Being in an offense that punished the guy bringing up the ball, Felton had difficulty “swishing and dishing.” This season though, under D’Antoni’s fast paced offense, its unlikely he’ll have a problem with that.
Statistically, Felton’s best season occurred one year before Larry Brown became coach. It’s reasonable to think that he can retain his 14 points and 7 assists per game of that 2007-08 season, potentially add to it as well. Felton has never had as dominant scorer as Amar’e and that will help him rack up the assists.
In conclusion, what is to be expected of Amar’e Stoudemire?
Everything he did in Phoenix over his career, should be brought to New York. Why such high expectations?
1. One hundred million reasons
2. Success without Nash
As we saw in the fifteen games from 2004 to 2010, Nash doesn’t dictate Stoudemire’s play. Even Marbury was able to help Amar’e produce quality numbers in his second season.
This season Stoudemire will show naysayers up. His success is not dependent on Steve Nash, rather its dependent on Raymond Felton .
Dan Miranda writes a Knicks blog called Knicks Vision that brings you updates, information and analysis on your favorite NBA team.