On Amar'e Stoudemire's first play with the Dallas Mavericks, he turned it over on a quick double team. Call it a fluke or a false start or an attempt to top Vince Carter's debut (hitting the side of the backboard with a 3-pointer), because he was nearly perfect the rest of the way.
In the Mavericks 92-81 win against Charlotte on Sunday, Stoudemire played his first 11 minutes with Dallas. He scored 14 points, shot 5-8 and made four free throws. He dunked three times, including an alley oop. He's not Brandan Wright, but you can see the similarities and why people keep saying that's the role he's here to take.
Stoudemire, however, made it clear he's not worried about his "role," insomuch that he's playing and winning.
"Whatever it takes to win," he said after the game."The league knows my pedigree. They know what I bring to the table. This is my 13th year in this league, but whatever we need as a team to win, I'm here to help."
Amar'e can still scare a defense
We will look back at the analytics boom of the past decade and realize it changed the league as much as any rule change (excluding the introduction of the 3-point line), but one thing analytics hasn't found a way to measure yet is a player's perceived impact. (And honestly, I say this, yet I wonder if someone on Twitter will correct me in the next few hours saying there's a metric that can do that.)
Amar'e no longer leaves devastation in his wake like he once did in Phoenix, but the memory of him dunking on any and all comers and his reputation as one of the league's best roll men lives on in the minds of NBA defenders. Stoudemire's athleticism has fallen from its peak, but as he illustrated Sunday, he's still a danger whenever he approaches the rim.
On Sunday, the Hornets largely ignored him on the pick and roll, leading to 14 points as he barreled down the lane and was set up around the basket. But after watching him do that in just 11 minutes, you have to wonder whether teams will guard him so loosely. On this pick-and-roll, Charlotte is attempting to defend it with the Thibodeau-preferred side trap, but without a help defender rotating or the guard applying pressure, it's completely ineffective.
As for Amar'e's reputation, who knows. If I'm an NBA defender and see him coming my direction, I think I'd take an extra half step or two. It's hard not to when the YouTube clips of him putting someone on a poster involuntarily pop into your head.
Stoudemire will mostly back up Tyson
Playing just 11 minutes won't be the norm, Carlisle confirmed after the game. He'll get more minutes, but don't expect too many next to Tyson Chandler.
In both instances Sunday, Amar'e subbed for Tyson. He played in the front court next to Al-Farouq Aminu and Richard Jefferson at first, and later, Dirk subbed in for Jefferson to bump Aminu down to the 3.
Dallas did play Wright next to Tyson at times when the team was in desperate need of rebounding. Carlisle acknowledged that may happen, but even then, this is in even of a game going poorly more than anything else. (Although an Amar'e and Tyson duo going up against Memphis intrigues me.)
We're one game in and yet it already seems like Stoudemire has naturally fit into this team. Dirk agreed.
"I think he gave us exactly what he thought he would give us, some scoring off the bench, some catching and finishing in the paint," he said.
Richard Jefferson's final jump
One thing happened in this game that was more important than Amar'e.
I understand Richard Jefferson will jump again. It's his job. However, I am of the opinion that if he were to choose never to jump again, then this would be a fine note to end on. It'll mean using the steps to enter a swimming pool. It'll mean rap concerts must be viewed sitting down. Trampolines are off limits, skateboards are iffy. No more House of Pain on his iPod, ever.
All that, and I think it would be worth it to say in 10, 20 years from now, to say, "Do you want to watch the last time I jumped?" and then show this Vine.
Think about it, Richard. Just think about it.