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Amar’e Makes an Impact

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When you have a player doing what you expect them to do it’s pretty good news. That might seem obvious, but a lot of the time it’s better than guys doing better than expected. Guys doing better than expected have a nasty habit of coming back down to earth—just ask O.J. Mayo.

So: maybe Amar’e Stoudemire’s 60% shooting for the Mavericks so far is a little high, but only a little—he was shooting 54% with the Knicks, where we can imagine his shots were a little bit harder to find. Maybe he’s rebounding a little more poorly than expected, 3.7 a game compared to 6.8, but that’s probably a factor of minutes and figuring out where his teammates are going to be.

So, yes, Amar’e has been exactly what the Mavs have expected. A crafty finisher around the rim, who knows how to use his body in the paint on offense and defense. You worry about him taking away from the offense of others, but, unfortunately that hasn’t been the problem. At this point, for better or worse, I don’t care if he ever passes to Charlie V, or Devin, or JJ, or whoever.

And that’s really the point, again somewhat unfortunately. Amar’e has stood out particularly because he’s the only Maverick doing what he’s supposed to do, these days. Rondo has actually put up surprisingly decent stat lines the last three games, averaging (really) 14.3-5.7-5.3 on 46% shooting and 50% from three, but for a team which, in the last two, scored about as many points total as they used to in a single game. Monta has not only shot under 26% three times in the last four games, it feels like he’s taken 80% of his shots from 18 feet away. Dirk..let’s not even talk about it.

So in the middle of that, Amar’e looks like a basketball genius. It’s reasonable to hope he’ll keep doing what he’s been doing, but what the Mavs really need is for that to look a bit more ordinary. As far as I can tell he’s playing good defense, and– not surprisingly–has found some quick chemistry with Devin Harris, who has to throw his lobs a little lower but still has a big guy to trust again.

If this team finds whoever snatched their bodies, there’s every reason to think that Amar’e could be a big help, come playoff team, even doing no more than he already is. That’s the good news. The bad news I leave to you.

Next: Mavs Lose Again to Western Conference Elite.

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