What Can Amar’e Stoudemire Bring to an NBA Team?

Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t been in the NBA since 2016, when he played 52 games for the Miami Heat. Since then, he has played both overseas and, more recently, in The Big 3 league, but Stoudemire has his eyes set for a return, and he even had some NBA teams looking at him in Vegas during Summer League. Is a comeback on the horizon? And if so, what will he bring to the floor for the team that signs him?

Stoudemire’s NBA journey

Amar’e Stoudemire entered the NBA out of high school. The Phoenix Suns drafted him in 2002, and after making waves during his first two seasons, he became one of the league’s premier players after the team acquired Steve Nash and completed one of the quickest turnarounds in NBA history. 

With Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire’s high flying dunks and dominant play beneath the basket stunned fans for the next six years. Then, he moved to New York. 

After signing with New York, Amar’e had a great first season, but injuries quickly hobbled him, and he eventually fell out of the starting rotation. After brief stints in Dallas and Miami, he announced his retirement from the NBA after 14 seasons. He then played overseas in Israel. 

Recently, Stoudemire has returned to North American basketball, this time in Ice Cube’s The Big 3. He is currently third in the league in scoring with 79 points, and sixth in the league in rebounding with 31. Fans who saw his late-career struggles in the NBA may notice a little bit more explosiveness in Stoudemire’s steps. Could this be a sign?

The Return of Amar’e Stoudemire?

Amar'e Stoudemire wants to make an NBA comeback, but would be effective?
Amar’e Stoudemire hopes Big 3 success translates to the NBA. | Adam Hunger/BIG3/Getty Images

Even in his prime, Stoudemire had a reputation as a player who was lackadaisical on defense, and at 36 years old, it is hard to imagine him breaking that reputation in the NBA. If he were willing to put in the work, however, he could prove to be an athletic option off the bench for a team who was willing to take a chance on him. 

Stoudemire left the league almost exactly when the shooting big man started taking over, and while he was never known for his range, Amar’e was no stranger to shooting the ball from deep. He was never a true threat from downtown, and he never shot more than 0.4 threes a game during any season. However, he shot as high as 43.5% from 3-point range (with the Knicks in 2010-11), and he had multiple games where he made more than one three.

One other concern about Amar’e Stoudemire in an NBA comeback would be durability. Historically, guys who struggled with injury when they were younger do not typically fare well as they age, and without any NBA action for nearly three years, one might wonder if he would quickly break down under the grind of a regular season. Both international and Big 3 play are more spread out than NBA basketball, so the adjustment could be grueling for Stoudemire.

Who would want him?

Stoudemire worked out alongside Monta Ellis in Las Vegas during the NBA summer league, and 12 teams watched. Some of them were contenders, while others were likely lottery teams. 

Two of the more interesting teams involved were the Lakers and Warriors. The Lakers already have a stacked frontcourt that makes them NBA Finals contenders, but if Stoudemire was willing to stay ready at the end of the bench, it could be ideal. 

The Warriors would likely take advantage of his increased explosiveness, and after losing many key pieces, he could get minutes. 

Other contending teams, such as the Bucks, would likely be in similar places as the Lakers. Meanwhile, franchises such as the Knicks, Thunder, Pistons, and Wizards may be able to give him more playing time, but he could see him in a similar role at the end of the bench on a bad team. Time will tell if Amar’e Stoudemire returns to the league, but if he does, he will have a long hill to climb to be effective.