Much has been made of Amar’e Stoudemire’s poor performance this season, so the All-Star break seems like a good time to look at how his season has gone. His lack of involvement in the pick and roll has been greatly discussed and seen as a big reason for his struggles. While he was heavily involved in and successful at the pick and roll in Phoenix, Amar’e had a PER of 22.8 last year with the Knicks while only seeing 2.4 pick and roll possessions per game. He is averaging a similar number of pick and roll possessions with Jeremy Lin in the lineup this year, yet his PER is his lowest since his rookie season. Let’s take a look at the other aspects of Amar’e’s game and what’s going on.
As the chart below shows, Stoudemire’s pick and roll numbers are similar to last year, while the rest of his game has changed much more drastically. He’s spotting up and coming off screens more, while seeing fewer isolation and post possessions.
As seen in the chart, Amar’e’s spot-up possessions have increased dramatically this season, indicating his decreased focus in the offense. The really bad news is that he is performing much worse in those situations, ranking 214th in the NBA in points per spot-up possession, according to Synergy Sports. Jeremy Lin’s addition to the lineup has not helped, as Amar’e is spotting up even more and performing even worse since Linsanity began. A big part of the problem is that his jumper is not falling. After shooting above 45% on long twos over the previous five years, he is down to a below-league-average 36% this year.
A combination of factors including Tyson Chandler’s spacing in the offense, the new lack of respect for his jumper, and his declining explosiveness has also led to a decrease in his spot-up drives. Last season, Stoudemire drove to the basket on about half of his spot-up possessions; that number has dropped to 31% this season. His effectiveness has also declined, as he is making fewer shots and committing more turnovers on those drives. The video below shows some of Amar’e’s struggles on spot-up drives. Watch how Amar’e doesn’t exactly blow by the closeout defender, and if he does, Chandler’s man is in position to bother the shot. Amar’e doesn’t finish over two defenders as well as he used to.
Not really thought of as a great post-up player, post-up possessions actually were the largest part of Amar’e’s game in his last year in Phoenix and the 2nd largest in his first year in New York. He was no slouch either; he was top 30 in points per post-up possession both of those years. This year, however, his post touches have disappeared along with his effectiveness; he is now averaging 0.68 points per possession in the post. Amar’e is getting his touches almost equally on the left and right blocks, but when he faces up (something he has always enjoyed), he is driving baseline over 70% of the time. In his more youthful days, he developed a nice spin move to counter the defense anticipating the drive. These days, defenses have anticipated the first step and stifled the spin move, as well. The video below shows Stoudemire’s new and inferior spin move.
While Amar’e’s isolation possessions decreased this year, especially during the Linsanity era, they still make up a large part of his offense. The good news is that Stoudemire is not settling for jumpers in isolation situations; he is driving to the basket over 70% of the time. Unfortunately, the results are not good. When Amar’e isolates and gets into the lane, he is scoring or getting fouled only 41% of the time. Stoudemire has had problems beating his man off the dribble, and he has had his shot blocked on an increasing number of occasions over the past few years, indicating declining athleticism. The video below shows his troubles beating his man and finishing.
Amar’e Stoudemire is having a career worst year, but it is not all due to the offense and spacing problems. His midrange jumper is worse than previous years, which could be attributed to some bad luck. Because of his decreased athleticism, he needs that jumper to open up the rest of his game. It will be interesting to see if an improved jumper in the second half of the season will increase driving opportunities for Amar’e.