FEW players have dominated the game of basketball with as much physicality as Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Kemp. The two injury-plagued forwards never reached their full potential, but for a brief period of time, they wowed us with their athleticism on a nightly basis. Poster dunks and points per game don’t do either enough justice, despite both of them carving out their reputation above the rim. On paper ‘S.T.A.T’ and ‘Reign Man’ had very similar careers, but the two deserve us to dig deeper to determine who had the better tenure in the L.
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BOTH players managed to make the postseason 10 times in their 14 seasons, yet Kemp was able to make an NBA Finals and Stoudemire wasn’t. Kemp also holds the advantage in total games with 88 compared to Stoudemire’s 78. Even though Amar’e’s 2005 playoff series against the Spurs was easily the best by either player (STAT averaged 37 points in the five-game series), that doesn’t equate for the lack of success he had. Especially considering he played alongside a two time MVP.
HEAD to head Stoudemire averaged over four more PPG than Kemp did over their careers. Both were known for their posterizing dunks on poor defenders, but Amar’e displayed a greater skill set on the offensive end. Playing with the guy who has the 3rd most assists all time certainly helped, but take nothing away from Stoudemire’s talent. Kemp battled to be the focal point of the offense after his Sonics and Cavs tenure with the last three years of his career hurting his averages. Shawn did though only manage to crack 20 PPG in one season. Amar’e did it seven times.
AS is the way in most of these argument’s one dude dominated the offensive debate, and one dominates the defensive one. Nothing new here. Kemp’s defense outranks Stoudemire, not purely by numbers. Kemp was a better rebounder that much is clear, but their block numbers are almost identical. Throughout the late 90’s as Kemp was a star he was tasked with guarding the likes of Charles Barkley, Chris Webber and Karl Malone while Stoudemire guarded superstars like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki. The first group are definitely more of a physical and bruising group, which makes Kemp’s stats during that era even more impressive. Neither will be remembered for their defensive prowess, but Kemp’s ability to guard his superstar peers was greater than Stoudamire’s.
STOUDEMIRE – YOU could say that Amar’e will be remembered for being on the receiving end of Steve Nash’s passes from the pick and roll, but he had his fair share of the spotlight too. As mentioned above the Western Conference Finals of 2005 was when we saw Stoudemire at his unstoppable best. Squaring off against the two time MVP in Tim Duncan, Amar’e lit up the Spurs with the best five-game stretch of his career. Despite the fact that the Suns lost, Stoudemire was a man possessed averaging over 37 points in the series and saved his best performance for when they needed it most. Facing elimination in Game 5 Amar’e dropped 42 points and 16 rebounds, but received little help from his teammates. Considering Duncan had won two MVP’s and two titles by that point, it’s fair to say that Amar’e outshone him on this occasion.
KEMP – THE most ‘iconic’ moment from Shawn Kemp’s career came when he absolutely pulverized poor Alton Lister with his infamous poster dunk. But it’s hard to pass up his performance in the NBA Finals as his ‘best’ moment. Kemp was in his seventh year in the league and alongside Gary Payton had led the Supersonics to the best record in the league. The daunting task of squaring off against Jordan and the Bulls seemed like an impossible task, but that didn’t stop kemp from being his physically dominant best. He averaged 23 and 10 for the six-game series and considering the Bulls played 31 playoff series during the 90’s, Kemp was one of only five players to put up those numbers in a series. The others? Shaq, Ewing, Malone and Barkley. Considering three of those guys have MVP’s awards, that put’s Kemp in some elite company.
Everything matters more in the NBA Finals. As much as I want to give the nod to Stoudamire here for dismantling Tim Duncan, Kemp gets the slight nod, purely based on the fact that when their backs were against the wall (down three games to zero) he had his best game of the series.
Edge: Kemp. Just
ONCE again the numbers between these two are very close. Both players were six-time All-Stars and made a handful of All NBA 2nd teams. Stoudemire though had one All NBA first team berth in ’07 and was the Rookie of the Year in his first season. Another close one, but Stoudemire gets the edge here.
Edge: Stoudemire. Just
VERDICT – AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE
A lot of these debates are determined and hinge on the amount of team success a player has. We have illustrated how close the two players postseason careers were (even with kemp’s Finals appearance) and the clear offensive/defensive winners. I’ve got to side with Amar’e Stoudemire on this one though. Shawn Kemp’s career averages were slightly impacted by his last three season in the league, but Amar’e had some down/injury affected seasons too. Affected by injuries during the mid 00’s he still put up 23 points and 8/9 rebounds a night, while helping Nash lead a Suns team to multiple playoff drives against tough opponents in Duncan and Bryant. A lot of Kemp’s shortcomings and problems weren’t injury motivated and while he remains of the all-time ‘what if’ cases, he doesn’t stack up to S.T.A.T in this argument.