The Dallas Mavericks continue to follow their plan of adding old guys, and their latest NBA senior citizen is a solid upgrade to a bench that desperately needs help.
Solid as long as they do not expect Amar’e Stoudemire to be five years younger. Adding the veteran All-Star forward/center does improve the Mavericks. It does not make them a top NBA title contender, but it makes them better.
Stoudemire is expected to sign with the Mavs, after he clears waivers; he has agreed to a buyout from the New York Knicks. The earliest he could play for the Mavs is Thursday night against Oklahoma City. That’s right - the Mavs two best big men around the rim are former New York Knicks. The Knicks, who have the fewest wins in the NBA, did not want Tyson Chandler or Stoudemire.
In 36 games this season, Stoudemire is averaging 12 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. His career averages are 20 points and 8.2 rebounds.
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At 32, he no longer is the offensive monster he was with the Phoenix Suns when he was running with Steve Nash. What Stoudemire is is a solid scorer who can hit a jump shot, play with his back to the basket and score on set plays at the rim. He is also still effective at the pick and roll. What he can’t do is guard. Anybody.
Defense has never been Stoudemire’s thing, and even with Rick Carlisle no one should expect Amar’e to do his best Bill Russell impression.
Overall, however, Stoudemire is better than the other options at the backup forward and center spot - currently manned by the likes of Bernard James, Dwight Powell, Greg Smith and Charlie Villanueva. This team desperately needs to have a more competent option behind Chandler, who is logging more and heavier minutes than Carlisle wants.
Despite their problems at backup center, and rebounding, the Mavericks are 36-19, good for fifth in the Western Conference standings. They are two wins ahead of seventh-place San Antonio and three wins behind second-place Memphis.
The Mavs rank 20th in the NBA in rebounding, and their rebounding differential is ahead of only the 76ers. Like you, I did not know the 76ers were still actually in the NBA. Adding Stoudemire should do nothing but help these horrid numbers, but he is not a cure all for some of the problems this team has. He won’t hasten the transition for Rajon Rondo, or make him return from his busted face injury any sooner.
Their biggest problem remains the morgue that is the Western Conference. The Mavs are 3-12 against the teams in the West that would be in the playoffs if the postseason began today. Even with the addition of Stoudermire, this team could win 50 games in a brutal conference and still lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Adding Stoudemire is an easy rent-a-player move that is only an upgrade. He does not solve everything, but he will help.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760