The Sixers are missing something, that's pretty obvious, but management doesn't seem to know what.
Bringing back Allen Iverson was certainly a step in the right direction, but clearly the move wasn't enough to resurrect the Sixers' relevancy, but sometimes a team is one move away from achieving more than anyone, including themselves, would have believe possible.
Would Amar'e be that move?
Lets be honest. The Phoenix Suns have accomplished all they ever will with the unit they have today.
When a team makes a new tactic or style, it never takes the rest of the NBA very long to catch up. Even the Kobe/Shaq tandem didn’t work forever, but the Suns shoot first, defend later (if ever) philosophy was faulty to begin with.
After their hot start which nearly everyone knew was fool’s gold to begin with, the Suns find themselves shifting to the Western Conference’s basement. Stoudemire is still fairly young and has been displaying championship-caliber production all season long.
Now he’s arriving at a crossroads where his only two choices are to go quietly into the sunset or try to land himself on one of the teams capable of eventually giving him a shot at a championship.
Often times in sports you can look at previous Champions and find that they all possess similarities in their formula.
In football, Super Bowl Champions are all teams with strong running games. However, in the history of basketball, NBA Champions have all been teams capable of getting points in the paint.
Granted, Stoudemire booking a trip to Philadelphia wouldn’t be nearly as talked about as him arriving in a place like Denver or San Antonio, but what else would the Sixers need?
Well, what does every elite team have?
A big man that can defend the rim? Check. A solid rotation? Check. Guards that can score? Check. A big man that can score in the paint? Not so much.
The Sixers are actually a pretty complete team on paper, but certain elements are more essential to winning games than others and one of the biggest problem with the Sixers this season has been their inability to get easy points.
Right now the Sixers are tied with three other teams for most blown double-digit leads, nine apiece.
We’ve seen it time and again from this team. They’ll come out white hot, shoot around 60 percent from the floor for a quarter or even an entire half and then vanish for the rest of the game. Their jump shots won’t fall from any end of the floor and there’s nobody on the team capable of consistently getting them points in the paint.
Imagine how different those nine games may have been had Stoudemire been wearing a Sixer uni.
At least not for the 2009-10 season. Even considering the Sixers' history of coming back from the trenches of the Eastern Conference, the most wide-eyed optimist would have a hard time seeing anyone take the Sixers beyond a first round elimination this year right now, regardless of who they may acquire.
But as far as next year is concerned, the Sixers could go as far as their resolve takes them. They’d have the benefit of starting the season with a fully healthy, fully motivated Allen Iverson, another year of development from Lou Williams and would get to spend an entire training camp implementing Amar'e into their system.
Stoudemire has done his best work when he’s been fed the ball consistently and given the space to do his thing. That’s one of the many reasons why having Shaq in a Suns uniform didn’t work. However, in Philadelphia, he would basically have as many touches and as much space as he could ask for and would make Philadelphia’s front court a lot more interesting.
Ultimately, Stoudemire could be the difference between the Sixers being a footnote at the bottom of the conference and a team dangerously close to breaking the suddenly fluid elite-class of the Eastern Conference. Anyone doubt one player could make so much of a difference?
Think Pau Gasol.
When you’re below the New York freaking Knicks, there isn’t much further down you can go. Their attendance is still sub-par and if the team is clearly missing something essential.
So if you’re the Sixers these days, you only need to be asking yourself one question: why not?
For a player of his caliber, Stoudemire has been a relatively low-key guy during his professional career. His demeanor would fit right in with the blue collar Sixers’ and generate some much needed interest around the league and the city of Philadelphia.
The key would be not giving up an arm and a leg for Stoudemire which would prove difficult, even considering the Suns are on the verge of rebuilding. Last I checked, Kwame Brown wasn’t on the Sixers’ roster so luring Phoenix into a bad trade may prove difficult.
Still, if the Sixers pursue Stoudemire, they’d be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t do everything within reason to secure him. Giving up too much for him could be problematic especially for a team that’s had so many of their current players around for years, but sometimes you have to go back to go forward.
We’ve already talked about the Suns going downhill. What we didn’t talk about was the rest of the division building up around them.
The Lakers aren’t going anywhere. Given Tyreke Evans’ unfathomable ability to keep the Kings semi-relevant for weeks before Kevin Martin even set foot on the hardwood, this may be the last season the Kings spend under .500 in a long time.
The Clippers are still lowly, but are miles over where they were a season ago with Blake Griffin logging as many minutes as Uma Thurman. The Warriors…well…they can still score….sometimes…
Anyway the point is that while the Pacific division gets harder, the Atlantic division is starting to show some light at the end of its tunnel. Boston is clearly a step down from the juggernaut they were in the 2008 season, frankly they seem to be below where they were for the majority last year.
New Jersey is about as easy a team to beat as the NBA has offered in the last 25 years. New York shows flashes of greatness i.e. staying within 10 points of the Lakers after the final buzzer or turning a 1-9 start into what was a 16-22 record, but then they turn around and lose to Dallas by fifty.
As in half a hundred.
This is the kind of competition the Sixers have in the Atlantic division. Statistically and practically, the Atlantic is worst division in basketball. So why play with on a downhill team on a division going uphill when you can play on a potentially upcoming and team with a division going down?
Well Amar'e, why aren't you here yet?