Posts tagged ‘Amare Stoudemire’

February 28, 2011

The Motives of Free Agents

by Jeeves

After the formation of, for lack of a better name, (I’ll oblige them), the Heatles and now that Carmelo officially has become a Knick, it appears that the free agency landscape has changed drastically in the NBA. Throw in the impending (2012) free agencies of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard and it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that the (star) players now have all the leverage in terms of where they end up. The teams that these stars are leaving are desperate to get at least pennies on the dollar so they kowtow to the wishes of their star even as he orchestrates his departure. Inevitably, that star will leave for greener pastures in a larger market. That is, at least, the perception.

It is that perception that I want to take a look at. Do stars really leave their teams to sign larger contracts in a city they deem better? Plus, what qualities do these cities have that make them “better”?

So these are the rules, if you will, of the way I treated the data. I scoured the Internet for reliable lists of the highest paid players in their respective leagues. For the NBA, I used a HoopsHype list of the highest salaries of players for this season. This means that I wasn’t looking at the largest total salaries, just single season salaries from this current season. The site listed the top 30 players. For the MLB, I used the invaluable Cot’s Contracts. He had the top 33 total contracts in history listed, meaning the total value over the life of the contract. That means for the MLB, it’s more of a snap shot of the last 15-20 years rather than a single season snap shot. Finally, for the NHL, I used a listing from USA Today which had the top 25 salaries from LAST (2009-2010) season. (I ignored the NFL because things get hairy after including signing and roster bonuses).

So after choosing my lists, I parsed the names to find out which players either A) Signed with a different team as a free agent or B) Forced a trade/was traded and immediately signed an extension. Those in group B weren’t technically free agents, but things worked, to the same effect. It does, however, exclude players such as Matt Holliday who was traded to the Cardinals, played through the remainder of the season, hit free agency, and then resigned with the Cardinals.

Let’s take a look at the lists starting with the NBA since this is what set me on this line of inquiry:

NBA – 10/30 – 33%

Rashard Lewis (Magic)

Carmelo Anthony (Knicks)

Gilbert Arenas (first salary) (Wizards)

Amare Stoudemire (Knicks)

Kenyon Martin (Nuggets)

Elton Brand (76ers)

Peja Stojakovic (Hornets)

Lebron James (Heat)

Chris Bosh (Heat)

Carlos Boozer (Bulls)

Of the 30 highest paid players in the NBA, only 10 of them met my criteria. Bosh, Lebron, and Carmelo are all prominently on that list. They also, make up a sizable portion. The teams that the players signed with don’t seem to have any sort of correlation. For every Carmelo who wanted the big market you have a Peja who signed with the small market Hornets. For every Lebron James who headed for warm weather, there’s a Carlos Boozer who went to a cold weather city. I think what it comes down to is that the players went to the teams that could pay them the most. They also seem not to be (LBJ excluded) the premier talents of the league. Yes, Amare Stoudemire is a very good player but he wouldn’t be in your top 7 of players with whom to start a team with. Taking this all into account, it seems (recently) that star players usually sign extensions with teams that drafted them (2/3 of the listed 30). It means that the Heatles and Melo are breaking the mold, so to speak, with the way that they orchestrated their moves to their current teams. It’s impossible to say whether this is a trend or a blip, but if history says anything it is that you can expect some superstars to move about, but the vast majority will stay put.

After the jump we’ll take a look at the NHL and MLB.

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February 4, 2011

Rebounding: How Much is Effort and How Much is Talent?

by npiller88

Kris is practicing his rebounds all over town

Jeeves’ last post about Amare Stoudamire’s overrated MVP bid got me thinking about his true value. But before I rip into him, let’s first look at the case FOR Stoudamire. In his career, it’s usually a good thing when he leads the team in scoring. That suggests that his production is important, and that he isn’t a drain on the team’s production as a whole. His team has won 63% percent of the games in which he was the leading scorer. Now, of course, much of that success can be attributed to Steve Nash with the Suns, who was the best player on that team, and whose game is built upon making the guys around him thrive. In other words, it could be more a reflection of Nash’s skills than Stoudamire’s that the team was successful when Stoudamire was the leading scorer. But we’ve seen with Stoudamire’s recent scoring success with the Knicks (in the absence of an elite point guard), that much of his value should be traced to him alone. We can assume that Stoudamire’s elite size and athleticism help him finish above the rim (where he gets many of his easy buckets), and his strong mid-range jumper is a nice tool as well. He is the best player on a decent team, and he changes the way opponents must scout and defend the Knicks.

So why isn’t he an MVP Candidate? (I mean besides the obvious, that his team is only 2 games above .500, certainly not territory for producing an MVP) Simple. Take a look at his rebounding rate: He is averaging 8.8 rebounds per game while playing nearly 38 minutes a contest, making for a paltry 11.3 per 48 minutes, good for 21st in the league, and behind guys like Ersan Ilyasova and rookie Derrick Favors. How can a 6’10” jumping jack of a player with sinewy muscle to spare fail to grab rebounds at a higher rate?

This got me thinking about what makes a good rebounder. There are plenty in the NBA who don’t exactly scream: “elite athlete.” Look at Kevin Love: Much has been made of his league leading rebounding stats (nearly 16 per game, nearing Dennis Rodman’s class), but what about his total rebound percentage? Love grabs 23.3% (thanks Justin Kubatko of of his team’s available rebounds while on the floor. Love is a “widebody” (around 260 pounds), which helps him get position. But there are plenty of guys with that sort of build who don’t rebound at a very high rate. Glen Davis of the Celtics weighs in at 290 pounds, but grabs only 8.4 rebounds per 48 minutes.

In order to rebound, you need to box out. This involves using your body as a barrier between the defender and the basket. In other words, getting “position.” The guys who do this best tend to be beefier (like Zach Randolph, who grabs 21.4% of his team’s available rebounds, or Dejuan Blair, who grabs nearly 16 rebounds per 48 minutes, good for 5th in the league–each of these guys is around 270 pounds). But what about guys who have tremendous size, but fail to rebound at a high rate? Many (like Andrea Bargnani, Rashard Lewis and Charlie Villanueva), are softer shooting specialists. But others, like Brook Lopez (who drew the ire of his coach Avery Johnson for not rebounding enough–less than 6 per game despite being 7 feet tall, and 265 pounds), seem to have a real problem with boxing out.

So, is rebounding a skill/talent, or is it all effort? I’d say somewhere in between. There’s no doubt that successful rebounders practice boxing out at least as much as Allen Iverson practiced in any way. This can be considered a developed skill, over a long period time. Certainly, athleticism and size often dictate talent, which contributes to rebounding ability. But there are plenty of guys without great athleticism or size who get the rebounding job done, and then some. Apparently, Nets forward Kris Humphries has found enough time to practice boxing out even amidst dating Kim Kardashian, because he checks in at 17.4 rebounds per 48 minutes, behind only Kevin Love in the NBA. Even in playing only 25 or so minutes per game, he still grabs nearly 10 rebounds a game. To top it off, Humphries is fairly undersized for his power forward position (6’9″ and 235 pounds). Like Love (who actually has the advantage of a bigger midsection and leg strength), Humphries is overachieving as a rebounder. My spidey sense tells me a lot of this is effort. Amare should take notes.

February 3, 2011

Overrated: Amare Stoudemire’s MVP Chances

by Jeeves

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look at something that’s underrated or overrated

Bottom line, Amare Stoudemire is not going to be the MVP.

Before I get into things, I want to say that I think Amare is a pretty darn good player. He has surpassed my expectations and proven false the idea that 50% (exaggeration alert) of his production was due to Steve Nash. With that out of the way, I think it is farcical that he is being touted as an MVP candidate. Let me lay it out in different words; the idea that Amare is the MVP of the National Basketball Association is ABSURD!

There are a number of ways to attack his MVP case, and well, I guess I’ll start with his production. The case for Amare as MVP, I suppose, begins with his scoring average; it is, after all, his flashiest stat. As of today, he is averaging 26.2 points per game, which is good for 2nd in the league behind Kevin Durant. I’ll admit, 2nd on the leaderboard is fairly high, but is it necessarily indicative of MVP play?If you look at Amare’s number throughout his career, this is by no means his best statistical season. I will point you to 2004-2005 when Amare averaged 26.0 ppg on 16.7 shots per game with a 56% shooting percentage and 8.9 rebound per game; compare that to this year, where Amare is averaging 26.2 points per game on 19.5 shots per game with a 50% shooting percentage and 8.8 rebounds per game. Is this year really that much more impressive that 04-05? I would argue that it is significantly less impressive. Amare is taking nearly 2 extra shots a game (with an extra turnover per game thrown in) to average a whopping .2 ppg more. If everyone is so enamored with Amare as MVP this year why wasn’t there more momentum behind him then? He finished a distant 9th in the voting that year; he was a mere after thought. Yes, Steve Nash won the MVP that year, but it seems that Stoudemire didn’t even dent the national consciousness.

This begs the question, if Amare’s season to date is no better than a number of his previous seasons, what has changed to make 2 out of 6 SI writers choose him as their half season MVP’s and 5 of 6 put him amongst their top 5? It seems the only difference is that Steve and Farouq, taxi drivers in NYC, are talking up his game this year. In a handful of pieces defending Amare as an MVP candidate, I’ve read people list, “He’s revitalized basketball in the city of New York!” as a reason. The absurdity of that notion is off the charts. I agree that the whole of New York is talking about Amare, but tell me, pleeease, tell me, when the hell did name recognition in New York City become a legitimate MVP attribute? I think it’s cool and neat that the Knicks are semi-relevant again after being run into the ground by Isaiah and James Dolan, but have we really sunk to level that general word of mouth in NYC is a legitimate barometer of MVP relevancy? Is that what we’re at? I apologize for all the rhetorical questions, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. I don’t know why Amare doing what he’s done for a formerly moribund Knicks team is any different than if he did it for say, the Pistons or better yet what he did do for Phoenix.

Stats aside, the historical precedent is working strongly against Amare. If you want the voters to vote for you, you need your team to win at least 50 games. 50+ wins and an MVP go nearly hand in hand. Only 7 people have won an MVP with less than 50 wins for their team (excluding Karl Malone in the lock-out year). Those players are Moses Malone (twice), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Petit, Bill Russell, and Bob Cousy. That’s it. To put it another way, unless your last name is Malone, no one in 35 years has won an MVP without their team winning 50 games. As I type this, the Knicks are 25-23 which puts them on pace for a much improved 42 wins. Even if, in your heart of hearts, you think Amare deserves the MVP because the guy who drove you home from LaGuardia talked about him non-stop, the Knicks’ record and Amare’s inability to elevate them to a better winning percentage basically precludes him from consideration. I recommend focusing your attention instead upon the likes of  Dwight, Dirk, Derrick, or LeBron.