Amare Stoudemire is currently ranked third in All-Star votes for Eastern Conference forwards (behind LeBron James and Kevin Garnett). Mark Stein of ESPN.com, though, apparently disagrees with the voters. For Stein, Stoudemire is the Most Valuable Player in the Eastern Conference for the first third of the season.
Michael Schwartz – at Valley of the Sun – appears to disagree. At least, Schwartz argues that Stoudemire is essentially the same player we saw last year in Phoenix.
Here is some of what Schwartz had to say:
As for Wins Produced, STAT(Amare Stoudemire) has produced 3.1 wins with a 0.118 WP48, which is in the middle of what he did the last two years (0.140 last season and .0103 the year before) but a good chunk worse than what he produced his three healthy years before that.
Amare is averaging 26.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game but he is taking almost five shots more than his career average and is shooting over 50 percentage points worse than last year from the field.
Stoudemire’s PER (23.85) is the highest it’s been since 2007-08 and is ninth best in the NBA (just behind Nash), but his usage rate is also at a career-high level, his true shooting percentage is the lowest it’s been since he was paired with Nash (and a good chunk lower than most of his years), and his rebound rate has only been lower twice his entire career. Only Rajon Rondo averages more turnovers per game than STAT’s 3.8 per contest and his turnover ratio has only been higher once since 2004-05.
This isn’t to say Stoudemire isn’t having a fantastic season. He’s just doing the same thing he’s always done just slightly less efficiently, without Steve Nash and in a bigger market that’s craving a winner. Amare Stoudemire put up better second-half numbers than almost every player in the NBA last season as he carried the Suns down the stretch, so watching him do something similar in New York really is no surprise.
Let me add to the story being told by looking at Stoudemire’s per 48 minute stats after 34 games this year and across the entire regular season last year in Phoenix. Stoudemire is spending quite a bit of time at center this season (hence his WP48 numbers overall are somewhat lower), but I am going to compare him to the average power forward.
As Schwartz noted, Stoudemire is taking more field goal attempts in New York. But he is a less efficient scorer, more prone to turnovers, and less able to get rebounds. So although is scoring is up, his overall production is slightly down. And that means Stoudemire is not the most productive player in the Eastern Conference.
Now is he Most Valuable? Well, MVP is not formally defined. I would argue that Most Productive is essentially the same as MVP. But others may disagree and I am sure one can come up with a definition that makes Stoudemire the MVP. For example, how about leading scorer in the biggest NBA market?