A totally uninspiring performance against the Denver Nuggets on January 15 led to an examination of Amar’e Stoudemire’s status as a franchise player, and whether he’s worthy of the humongous contract he’ll almost inevitably receive following the 2009-10 season. Starting with that game a week ago in Denver, the Phoenix Suns have lost five of six games, with the lone win coming over the increasingly disappointing Am. Ironically, it’s against this backdrop, having produced just one game in this stretch remotely resembling a star-quality performance, that Amar'e Stoudemire was named a Western Conference All-Star starter.
On the surface, Stoudemire’s 31-point game in
In 30 minutes on the floor in the Suns’ nationally televised Martin Luther King Day matchup with the Boston Celtics, Stoudemire managed just one rebound, four turnovers and four fouls to go along with three points (0-for-7 from the field), as Phoenix was thumped by the Celtics. The game’s 104-87 final score hardly reflects the Celtics’ dominance, as the Suns trailed by thirty points early and often, only cutting the deficit under twenty in garbage time.
Two nights after being humiliated in
And in yet another sub-par showing, the Phoenix Suns simply failed to show up in Charlotte last Friday against the Bobcats, and were humiliated 98-76. The Bobcats jumped ahead early and held led by double-digits for the last two-and-a-half quarters of the game. While this was a comprehensive team defeat, Stoudemire was particularly ineffective, committing six turnovers and making just five of fourteen field goal attempts on his way to just twelve points. On this occasion he was the fourth best frontcourt player on the floor, once again outplayed by Shaq (20 points, 6-10 from the field, 8-12 FT), as well as by both Charlotte forwards, Gerald Wallace (28 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, 2 blocks- what a line!) and former teammate Boris Diaw (26 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals).
Stoudemire is hardly the only member of the Suns who’s failed to bring his “A” game lately, so it’s impossible to lay the team’s poor play entirely on his doorstep. However, given his perceived greatness and his desire to be a team’s primary option, combined with his likely foray into the free agent market following next season, Amar’e Stoudemire should be working harder than anyone on the Phoenix Suns’ to take his game to new level.