NBA, The NBA's 30 Best Go-To Players / Oct 22, 2010 / 1:00 pm

Ranking the NBA’s 30 Go-To Guys (#17: Amar’e Stoudemire)

Who do you want your offense to run through with the game on the line? Counting down from 30th to 1st (one per team), I’ve ranked the League’s go-to guys…

AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE, New York Knicks
The dumbest basketball argument in the world right now — which is quite an accomplishment considering some of the LeBron garbage polluting the blogosphere recently — is the one claiming Amar’e Stoudemire has been great only because he won the Arizona Lottery and got to play with Steve Nash for six years.

Never mind that Amar’e won Rookie of the Year on a playoff team, and then averaged 20 points and 9 boards in his second year as a 21-year-old before Nash joined the Suns. Never mind that Nash has nothing to do with Stoudemire’s 8.9 rebounds per game career averages. Never mind that Nash wasn’t setting the picks, executing the rolls, or finishing the buckets that Amar’e finished to become a five-time All-Star. Never mind that, while Amar’e was never better than when he had Nash on his side, Nash was also never better than when he had Amar’e. Somehow everybody forgot that the Suns’ explosive two-man game was really a two-man game, its success no more attributed to the short guy than to the tall guy.

Now that Amar’e is “on his own” in New York, he will prove that he’s pretty damn good without Nash. He’s off to a good start early, averaging 26 points through five preseason games (matching his regular-season career high) including a 39-point explosion against the Nets on Tuesday and a 30-point effort against Boston last week. Or maybe that was all because of Ray Felton.

Amar’e was not consistently the offense-runs-through-me first option during crunch time in Phoenix. That was Nash. But Amar’e definitely put in work on the big stage (24.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg in the postseason) and hit his share of big shots. In last spring’s Western Conference Finals he dumped 42 points on the Lakers in a must-win Game Three, not long after he’d closed out the Spurs with 29 points in Game Four of the conference semifinals. According to 82games.com, Amar’e scored 28.1 points per 48 minutes of “clutch time” last season, hitting 62 percent from the field, mere tenths below top-level bigs Al Jefferson and Zach Randolph, and higher than 2010 All-Star Chris Kaman.

Another misconception about Amar’e is that his game is restricted to dunks, glares, flexing, not rebounding and not playing defense. For this column I won’t go into the rebounding/defense thing too much — just know that since Amar’e entered the League in 2002, only 19 players have grabbed more rebounds, and only 20 have blocked more shots — because this is about what he brings to the table offensively.

Amar’e has much more to his game than just the business end of a pick-and-roll. In just his handful of preseason games with the Knicks, he’s shown his underrated ball-handling skills and ability to get the rim from outside the lane, plus a soft touch around the basket and an ever-improving mid-range jump shot. And when he gets to the line, Amar’e has shot 75 percent for his career, making him a reliable post player down the stretch in close games.

Taking his game to New York City was more than just a good branding move for Amar’e Stoudemire. By accepting the responsibility of being the face of the Knicks franchise and its best player unquestionably, he has the opportunity to prove he is a standout superstar regardless of who is taking the court next to him. He is The Man now. At least until Carmelo shows up.

*** *** ***

18. Monta Ellis (Warriors)
19. Danny Granger (Pacers)
20. John Salmons (Bucks)
21. Rudy Gay (Grizzlies)
22. Stephen Jackson (Bobcats)
23. Baron Davis (Clippers)
24. Ben Gordon (Pistons)
25. Andre Iguodala (76ers)
26. Yao Ming (Rockets)
27. Mo Williams (Cavaliers)
28. Brook Lopez (Nets)
29. Andrea Bargnani (Raptors)
30. Michael Beasley (Timberwolves)

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  • Stunnaboy2K11

    The reason people say Nash helped Amare is, because Nash fing helped Amare. His 8.9 rebounds are pathetic, the pick and roll works mainly because Nash takes away the opposing PG due to them respecting his J. Remember that his 20/9 came TWO surgeries ago, and when playing with Nash at his prime he out up 25/9 TWICE. 5 points is a damn high increase.

    Besides for all this talk, whenever clutch time came around we all know who had the ball for Phoenix and it was that floppy haired Canadian…

  • Dman

    He will be the best till chris paul shows up and take all the credit like steve nash did with amare

  • S.A.C

    I’m not exactly sure, I’d call Amare Stat a ” go to guy”. I guess he is by the sheer nature he’s the best player on the Knicks. But to me he’s the epitome of a super athletic player, that can’t score when it’s needed, when it requires more skill than athleticism.

    I would rather have your 28th ranked (and third year center) Brook Lopez with the ball in his hands during crunch time in the half court, then Stat many times.

    But hey. He looks good so far this year, so maybe he’ll prove me wrong!?

  • S.A.C

    PS Dime. I noticed you wrote that stuff about 19-20 more players being better than Amare as far as rebounding.

    My question is, are their 20 more players in the NBA making more than Amare Stoudemire ($20 mil a year)? That’s the problem!

    But he’s a decent free throw shooter, has shown some touch and additional moves with the Knicks so far. But we’ll see?

  • Mtx

    @Dman

    remember that Chris paul doesn’t shoot the ball half as good as nash, so the pick and roll wont be as effective

  • Knicksfan84

    8.9 rebounds rounds up to 9 rebounds. If you’re making a lot of your shots, there’s not that many boards to be grabbing in the first place.

    On top of that 9 rebounds does not sound too shabby for a PF. This nonsense of “this guy doesnt rebound enough” for several players in the league is absolute GARBAGE.

    Amare is a beast, end of story.

  • 100k

    Amare could stand to average more rebounds.

  • ricky ross

    knicksfan84
    if youre making a lot ofo your shots, theres not that many rebounds to get?
    what? yea, cuz players usually grab rebounds off their own miss? come on man what are you saying. amare, with his body size and height is expected to hit 10 rebounds a game. period. guys like josh smith and durant average 7-9 boards a game amare is one of the top pf in the league today but hes a horrible rebounder

  • Lee

    “Nash was also never better than when he had Amar’e.”

    Didn’t Nash win MVP when Amare was out for a season, and take the Suns to around 60 wins ?? It helps if you don’t just make things up when you write an article.

  • s.bucketz

    amare at 17???marginally better than the likes of monta ellis?danny granger and john salmons???im callin shenanigans on this one

  • http://slamonline.com sooper fadeaway

    cosign Lee

  • RC

    Oh how I wish Chris Paul also plays for NY.

    Amare is gonna beast people on the low block again this season.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Large cosign on everyone saying that Amar’e needs Nash more than the other way around. I like Amar’e, but he’s hardly the kind of big man you want to build your organization around.