When Miami Heat starting center Hassan Whiteside got in early foul trouble last night against the Sacramento Kings, Erik Spoelstra surprised us a little bit by going with Amar'e Stoudemire, a guy who only played a total of 12 minutes in the first ten games of the season. Maybe it was because Chris Andersen was not with the team for personal reasons, or because coach Spo didn't want to change his normal rotations.
For whatever reason, Stoudemire got a rare opportunity to show he can still contribute and he took advantage of it. In only eight minutes, he scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting and was active defensively. Clearly, he was ready to play despite the fact that he appeared in just one game before last night (on October 30 against Cleveland), so he deserves credit for being a true professional and a great teammate.
With his solid performance against the Kings, Stoudemire has made a compelling argument to be inserted into the rotation. The main reasons why Amar'e remained on the bench through eight straight games are his questionable defense and the fact that Spoelstra has found great balance with other guys from the second unit, like Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts. Everybody knows STAT can still score and be effective offensively, but that's not really what Miami needs right now because the Heat already has a lot of guys who can put the ball in the basket. So outside of that, what can Stoudemire bring to the team?
Amar'e doesn't have the playmaking ability of McRoberts (who has great chemistry with Chris Bosh by the way), he doesn't impact the game on defense like Winslow can and doesn't bring energy like Tyler does. Spoelstra has never been a fan of one-dimensional players, especially when they are not good defenders (just look at Michael Beasley), so it's not very surprising to see that Stoudemire hasn't played a lot so far and maybe Gerald Green will follow that path if he doesn't perform better soon.
Only time will tell (or injuries may force Spoelstra's hand), but at the very least it's a testament to the team's depth that Stoudemire can be called upon to action when needed.