Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Logic of Amare'

Now that there's talk about trading him for Stoudemire, I've been getting a kick out of the sudden influx of Tyrus love. Where are all those people who once bemoaned our lack of LaMarcus Aldridge, and demanded that Tyrus' minutes be given to the hustling Noce?

No doubt much of the new-found adoration stems from T-Dub's recent five-game stretch (the best of his career), in which he's averaged nearly 18 points, 11 boards and 2 blocks, while shooting 50% from the field and getting to the line more than seven times a game. That this stretch also corresponds with the best five game stretch of his career in terms of minutes played--38.6 a game--is no surprise to some of us. Indeed, his career numbers projected at 36 per come out to 14, 9 and 2.4, with 5.4 FTA, so while Ty's recent run demonstrates real improvement, it's by no means jaw-dropping.

So why, in spite of all this, would I be willing to trade this budding young hoss for an apparent malcontent/head-case who "can't rebound"? Because that malcontent can really, really score, and I agree with Kelly Dwyer that the root of the Bulls' recent problems are much more offense-related than defense-related.

A couple things first: While Amare' has never been a great rebounder, it's only this season where he's been hanging around the dreaded Aldridge line of 12.8% TRB. Indeed, throughout his career, Amare' has been an adequate-to-good defensive rebounder (career DRB 20.1); it's only at the offensive end where his boarding gets suspect. That doesn't concern me too much as, so long as any deal does not include Noah, Amare' will be playing alongside one of the best offensive rebounders in the league.

I also wonder if Amare's offensive boards don't suffer from the fact that he is very, very good around the rim. Indeed, compare the eFG% of his Close and Dunk Shots to Tyrus', and you find Amare' more than 13% points better on Close shots, and even nearly 8% points better on Dunks. (He's also 10% points better than Ty on Jumpers.) Less misses mean less chances to rebound those misses. [But obviously doesn't mean less percentage of real-existing offensive rebounding chances, thereby making my original point idiotic. Still, I'll keep it as it shows just how much more an efficient offensive player Amare' is than Ty.]

Indeed, even factoring in how well Tyrus has been playing as of late---and I think he's been pretty phenomenal---I can't imagine him ever being as much of an offensive force as Amare'. This is no knock against Tyrus. Amare' is one of the most efficient scorers to ever play the game. Two years ago, he became one of only two players in NBA history to average 20 points while taking less than 13 shots a game. (The other is Dwight Howard.) Last year, he joined Charles Barkley as the only other player in NBA history to average 25 points while taking less than 16 shots a game. This year, a supposedly bad and distracted Stoudemire is still putting up a TS% that is among the Top 20 of all players (and 7th among players averaging more than 30 min. a game).

I might not be so beguiled by Stoudemire's offensive ability (or deem it more worthwhile than Tyrus' defensive skills) if the Bulls had locked up Ben Gordon for the next few years. But as they didn't---and, with Toronto's O'Neal trade, it becomes likely that the Rapts could sign BG up long-term---the Bulls are really going to need another offensive threat to pair alongside Rose in order to compete night-in and night-out. Amare' would also firmly cement Luol's place as the team's third offensive option (behind AS and Rose), which I think is exactly where he belongs. With a frontcourt of Deng, Stoudemire, and Noah and the PG manned by Rose, I think I could live with Kirk Hinrich playing the two next year, which appears to be where we are heading regardless of whether this trade gets made.


Blogger Ty said...

I actually like this deal less if one is convinced that Gordon is leaving.While Stoudemire is great, I can't see him raise a pathetically offensive team (the Bulls w/o Gordon) to anything above mediocre or average.

Either way, they'll have a big hole to fill with Hinrich as the SG. I just wonder if they'll be able to find that guy in the next year, and if being an average offensive and average defensive team keeps Stoudemire around. At least w/ Thomas and no Stoudemire, they'd have more "time" to find that guy.

I don't know. I've been wishy-washy on this trade since it's come up.

7:54 PM  
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10:52 PM  

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