Posts tagged ‘Kevin Durant’

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.

January 29, 2011

Could Jimmer Fredette Be the Next JJ Redick, or some other white player?

by npiller88

After (formerly #6) San Diego State got Jimmer’d this past Wednesday to the tune of 43 points, the game has begun in the minds of pundits to project college Player of the Year candidate Jimmer Fredette as an NBA prospect.

NBA players reacted to Fredette’s nationally televised smackdown of SDSU by revving the engine of the hype machine for the nation’s next great white hope. Last year’s NBA leading scorer, the freakishly long and athletic Kevin Durant (who possesses athletic advantages Fredette will never sniff), called him “the best scorer in the world!!” on twitter (his exclamation points, not mine). I’m not sure if Fredette, who is older than John Wall, was really in search of “respect” from his junior, another freakishly athletic NBA rookie talent, but that’s what he got when Wall proclaimed on twitter: “Jimmer Fredette is cold! Respect.”

Fredette leads the NCAA in scoring, at 27.4 points per game. His .421 three point shooting percentage isn’t at the top of Division I, but given the staggering number of threes he’s taken, that percentage is pretty damned impressive. His 4.2 assists per game are respectable, especially for an off guard. And with such high usage, the 1.44 assist to turnover ratio ain’t too shabby either. It’s also the worst of his college career, which speaks again to role Fredette has played as ball-controlling leader on this Mountain West leading BYU squad.

Many of his stat lines have been astonishing this year. In four of the last six games, he’s had at least 39 points, and 47 in one of them against Utah while playing only 35 minutes, the fewest of the six game stretch. Fredette has made the third most threes in the NCAA. It’s worth noting that there are better three-point shooters out there. For instance, Ashton Gibbs of Pitt, nearly the same height and weight as Fredette, is hitting on 45% of his threes, while having made only four less than Jimmer. But Gibbs lacks the versatility of Fredette as a scorer. Fredette, who doesn’t have elite leaping ability or quickness, finds a way to score inside, absorb contact and finish around the rim. The college game is filled with players who take advantage of the NCAA’s short three point shot, and linger on the perimeter, playing the role of sharpshooter. There are players who have lived out there and had very successful careers, even landing NBA gigs as a result (see Anthony Morrow of the Nets). But Fredette is not that guy. Among the top 35 leaders in three pointers made in Division I college basketball, Fredette is the leader in two point field goals. Only one other player, Andrew Goudelock of mid major College of Charleston is close. Make no mistake about it, Fredette knows how to score, and in a variety of ways.

So, the question is, will he score at anywhere near that rate at the NBA level?

History says no. But is there a little racial bias here? The early NBA comparisons Fredette has garnered have been to other good white shooters like JJ Redick. No doubt, there are clear similarities between Redick and Fredette–strong fundamentals and knock-down shooting ability. But the knock on Fredette, and guys like Redick before him, is that he is “not athletic enough.” And maybe that’s true. But what is athleticism? If it is solely defined by leaping ability and raw speed, then Fredette is probably in the bottom third of NBA guards. But if you want to include body control, concentration, and strength, Fredette is at least competitive with most young point guards in the NBA. His skill level is elite, and we can thank that father of his, as seen in many a youtube video, passing the ball to Fredette for a few of his twenty thousand shots during the day’s workout.

The projections for Fredette also seem to forget the long list of black players whose athleticism has disappointed at the NBA level thus far (OJ Mayo or Evan Turner, anyone?), and the white players who have exceeded expectations athletically (Chris Andersen, Kevin Love). A search in google for the “worst athletes in the NBA” brings up multiple lists of the “worst white players of the last 15 years” and other such tantalizing nuggets. There’s nothing wrong with the tacit understanding that there exist far more elite black athletes in the NBA than white ones. But whenever a strong white player like Fredette comes along, there are only comparisons to other white players, and often white shooting specialists at that, rather than complete offensive players (which is what Fredette is). Fredette’s game doesn’t actually resemble Redick’s as much as people think. He’s more creative finishing around the basket than Redick ever was, and has far superior body control, at least at the college level.

The only fair comparison I’ve seen thus far has been to Warriors’ guard Steph Curry (a player exceeding the expectations of many, despite athletic limitations), who has a similar inside and out game. So let’s hold it on the projections at this stage. See how the season finishes. See what the Scouts say as the draft nears. But don’t assume that Fredette’s NBA ceiling is Redick.