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2010 Free Agency (07/06)
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July 7, 2010
2010 Free Agency
The Shooting Guards

by Kevin Pelton

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If you're looking to go deep as the NBA enters free agency for the 2010 off-season, Basketball Prospectus is your place. Over the next several days, we will review the top 20 free agents at each position, looking not only at the stars but also at the role players who will help fill out benches across the league. Players have been arranged into tiers of similar players that generally reflect their overall value in a vacuum, regardless of team need.

Previous Positions:

  • Point Guards

    Reading the player charts:

    • T is free agent type, either restricted (R) or unrestricted (U).
    • Age as of July 8, 2010.
    • WARP is Wins Above Replacement Player, while Win% is the estimated winning percentage of a team made up of the player and four average teammates.
    • TS% is True Shooting Percentage, the best measure of scoring efficiency.
    • Usg is the player's usage rate, or the percentage of his team's plays the player finished with a shot, trip to the free throw line or turnover.
    • Reb% is the percentage of available rebounds the player grabbed while on the floor.
    • Pass is a personal junk stat incorporating assists per minute and assist-to-turnover ratio.
    • BS% is the sum of blocks and steals per 100 plays.

    THE SUPERSTAR

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dwyane Wade          mia   U   28.5  20.0   .761   .562   .352   7.8   3.20   5.1

    Most years, Wade--an All-NBA First Team selection each of the last two seasons still in the prime of his career--would be the prize of free agency. Only the presence of LeBron James can relegate Wade to the role of overqualified consolation prize. There's some risk to a six-year contract for Wade, especially given his history of injuries, but even at the max he'll be underpaid on the front end of his deal.

    THE VETERAN WHO MAY AGE POORLY

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Joe Johnson          atl   U   29.0   8.2   .554   .538   .264   7.2   2.08   1.6

    I want to make this clear: My belief that Johnson's contract will ultimately come to be regarded is not a knock on Johnson the person or even necessarily Johnson the player. It's simply that the performance of similar players as they entered their 30s tells a cautionary story. John Hollinger found the same thing using his similarity system. If you don't trust our advanced metrics, consider minutes per game. Johnson's 10 best comparables averaged 35.2 minutes in what will be his 2010-11 season, 31.9 minutes the next and just 26.9 minutes a night during what will be his 2012-13 season. By that point--midway through Johnson's new contract--just three of those 10 players were averaging at least 35 minutes.

    THE VETERAN STARTERS

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    John Salmons         mil   U   30.6   4.2   .488   .553   .200   5.4   0.57   2.5
    Mike Miller          was   U   30.4   3.7   .515   .623   .148  10.8   1.29   1.6

    As with Johnson, I'm on the record thinking Salmons' contract was too long and too lucrative. He has never in his career rated as better than average on a per-minute basis over the course of a full season. The Bucks, who once seemed to be pointing toward cap space in the summer of 2011, now seem locked into this group plus whatever they can fetch for Michael Redd's expiring contract. While Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut have upside, is this group good enough to contend in the East? And with Jennings on the rise, why add so many veteran players?

    Miller is a more interesting case. When he joined the Timberwolves in 2008, he apparently decided he no longer wanted to shoot, and his usage rate plummeted from 19.8 percent of his team's plays to below 15 percent the last two seasons. The upside is Miller remains extraordinarily efficient as a scorer and a fine playmaker. Miller's versatile offensive skill set should age reasonably well. For three or four years at the mid-level exception, he's a solid pickup.

    THE YOUNG SHOOTERS

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dorell Wright        mia   U   24.6   3.6   .534   .567   .159   9.2   0.32   3.6
    J.J. Redick          orl   R   26.0   4.1   .526   .606   .184   4.8   0.96   1.0
    Anthony Morrow       gsw   R   24.8   3.3   .495   .597   .178   7.2   0.16   2.1

    In his sixth pro season, at the age of 24, Wright "got it" and became a quality reserve for the Heat, shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc while offering a better-rounded game than most shooting specialists. The potential had always been there for Wright, so there's the chance that last year was only the beginning for him. Wright has the advantage among younger free agents of being unrestricted because of his experience in the league. Another team would be wise to try to steal him away while the Heat is sorting out the max players.

    Though Redick's stats had been terrible before 2009-10, it was evident during the 2009 postseason that his work behind the scenes was paying off. Redick has made himself into a positive at the defensive end of the floor and a capable ballhandler, and when he got regular minutes last season his shots started falling. I'm a little more concerned that last year might have been Redick's high-water mark, but it's a pretty nice mark.

    Morrow's upside is limited by the fact that he is so strictly a shooting specialist. He has at least shown the ability to sustain a reasonably high usage rate for a spot-up player, but Morrow is not going to be a contributor defensively or as a playmaker. Still, guys who shoot 45 percent from three-point range are always valuable.

    THE AGING VETERANS WHO CAN STILL PLAY

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ray Allen            bos   U   35.0   5.2   .506   .601   .204   5.4   0.45   1.9
    Quentin Richardson   mia   U   30.2   5.6   .546   .572   .149  10.5   0.15   2.5

    Allen is one of the most interesting free agents in this crop because his value is so short-term in nature. Despite a lengthy midseason shooting slump, Allen still ended up with a True Shooting Percentage just north of 60 percent, and he showed in the postseason that he is still capable of taking over games. At 35, the end could come quickly for Allen, so the biggest problem with a new deal is the tendency for contracts to escalate rather than decrease over time. The Celtics--or some other suitor--will ideally want to keep Allen's next contract as short as possible.

    Richardson is five years younger, yet he seemed closer to finished than Allen this time a year ago. Richardson has battled back problems that hampered him for years, but he looked revitalized in South Beach, posting the best True Shooting Percentage of his career. Richardson's next team will be gambling that he maintains that level of play rather than slipping back to his mediocre years in New York.

    THE YOUNG NON-SHOOTERS

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ronnie Brewer        mem   U   25.3   0.1   .419   .524   .140   6.3   1.14   3.3
    Wesley Matthews      uta   R   23.7   0.2   .420   .592   .166   5.5   0.25   2.2
    Shannon Brown        lal   U   24.6   0.7   .435   .517   .188   6.0   0.33   3.1

    Matthews' solid play as a starter at shooting guard helped the Jazz quiet criticism for the money-saving move of dumping Brewer to Memphis at the trade deadline. Now, that looks like an awfully good move for Utah, which picked up a future first-round pick and could even re-sign Brewer if it so chose since he's an unrestricted free agent after the Grizzlies declined to make him a qualifying offer.

    Despite SCHOENE's concerns about aging rapidly, I still think Brewer is the slightly better free agent option, though it's probably a matter of taste. Matthews is out of place in this group since he shot 38.2 percent from beyond the arc, though he's more of a defender first and a shooter second, which is why I can't lump him in with the previous group. Brewer, meanwhile, offers more athleticism and is a better fit for an up-tempo team.

    Matthews does remind me of a caution I once offered about Damien Wilkins in Seattle. When an undrafted free agent plays well as a rookie, it's often less a sign that he's truly a great player and more a reminder that talent is out there to find. I can see Utah or some other team giving Matthews too long a contract and regretting it after finding out he's not substantially better than replacement level.

    Brown's season wasn't quite what the Lakers hoped it might be after his solid 2009 postseason, though nor was it really a disappointment. He played regular minutes over a full campaign for the first time in his career and proved acceptable in the role. Brown would probably be ideal for a team that could use him at both guard positions off the bench. That may yet be the Lakers depending on what happens in negotiations with Derek Fisher.

    THE DEFENSIVE SPECIALISTS

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tony Allen           bos   U   28.5   1.0   .469   .540   .198   9.9   0.36   5.1
    Rasual Butler        lac   U   31.1  -0.4   .409   .524   .171   5.2   0.14   2.5
    Raja Bell            gsw   U   34.6   0.3   .506   .570   .173   7.6   0.68   2.0
    Keith Bogans         sas   U   30.2  -0.3   .406   .542   .110   6.5   0.33   2.0
    Roger Mason          sas   U   29.8   0.2   .423   .490   .173   6.2   0.95   1.7

    I feel like I could write an entertaining 20,000 words on the Celtics' other Allen. The relationship between him and Boston fans fascinates me, as does Allen's game. Going by the Bill Simmons Table Test, Allen brings a lot to the table on defense while also taking a lot off the table with his complete inability to shoot and horrendous decision-making. If you're willing to live with the mistakes, Allen really is a phenomenal individual defender who has historically shined in adjusted plus-minus analysis. He's better than a lot of players with stronger defensive reputations.

    In an ideal world, Butler would be the backup two/three on a super-team with room only for minimium-salary offers. In reality, he'll probably make something more than that. Butler is occasionally excellent as a three-point shooter (39.0 percent in 2008-09) and has the size to cause problems on defense for opponents at both wing positions.

    Bell is another fun example of the power of perception. He never really got credit for his defense until he battled with Kobe Bryant (sometimes literally) in the 2006 playoffs. Now, Bell is having an equally tough time shaking that reputation as a stopper. He's lost a step, maybe two, and isn't the same player, yet is still coveted.

    Both Bogans and Mason were ultimately found lacking by the Spurs. Mason slipped out of the rotation early on. It was difficult for San Antonio to justify minutes for him when Mason was no longer shooting 40 percent-plus from beyond the arc. Bogans, who was more efficient as a shooter but was almost a complete non-factor in the Spurs offense, was cut out by the time the postseason came around, totaling just 54 minutes over two series. Both players still qualify as good options as role players for the veteran minimum.

    THE RECLAMATION PROJECTS

    Player                Tm   T    Age   WARP  Win%    TS%    Usg  Reb%   Pass   BS%
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tracy McGrady        nyk   U   31.1   0.4   .443   .466   .207   8.0   2.43   2.7
    Larry Hughes         cha   U   31.5   1.6   .484   .472   .210   7.4   1.38   3.4
    Marquis Daniels      bos   U   29.5  -1.6   .332   .526   .159   6.1   0.39   2.0

    At 31, McGrady and Hughes have already experienced entire careers' worth of ups and downs. Will there be another act? McGrady did show some flashes at times during his stint in New York, which was disappointing overall, and he'll be a full 20 months removed from microfracture knee surgery by training camp. The issue is whether McGrady's baggage is too much to justify taking a chance that he can become a contributor. Hughes wasn't as terrible as you might think last year, even with a 47.2 percent True Shooting Percentage. Again, though, I'm not sure how he fits into a team concept. He's not good enough to play heavy minutes on most veteran teams, and non-contenders should be giving those minutes to younger prospects.

    Daniels' scenario is not nearly as dramatic as the others, though he saw his stock take a tumble last season. Expected to be Boston's top perimeter reserve, Daniels was buried after thumb surgery and played poorly when he did get a chance. Though Daniels is better than he looked last season, it's been four years since he's topped replacement level.

    THE REST

    Devin Brown, Chicago - At the beginning of last season, Brown was the Hornets' starting shooting guard ahead of Marcus Thornton. Needless to say, the two players went in opposite directions thereafter. In a related story, I'm not thrilled that the Cavaliers hired Byron Scott.

    Michael Finley, Boston - Still shot the ball well from deep last season (37.0 percent), but the rest of his game has faded badly. At 37, this deterioration is unlikely to reverse course.

    Trenton Hassell, New Jersey - How long ago did Hassell sign the lucrative six-year contract he just finished? The deal came in the afterglow of the Timberwolves reaching the Western Conference Finals. Hassell was probably the worst offensive perimeter player to average at least 20 minutes per game last season. In a related story, the Nets threatened the NBA record for fewest wins in a season.

    Luther Head, Indiana - Head wasn't terrible as a shooter last season (53.0 percent True Shooting Percentage), but a specialist who doesn't offer a ton else has to be better than that.

    Cartier Martin, Washington - Martin has been on the D-League/NBA shuttle the last two years. He's yet to do anything in the big leagues to indicate he should stick.

    Ronald Murray, Chicago - After an excellent season as a sixth man in Atlanta, Murray came back to reality in 2009-10, posting a 48.5 percent True Shooting Percentage that is right in line with his career marks as one of the league's premier ballhogs.

    Sasha Pavlovic, Minnesota - The next time you criticize LeBron James for not making his teammates better, remember that Pavlovic started for a team that reached the NBA Finals. Three years later, he couldn't find heavy minutes on a dreadful Timberwolves team.

    Jerry Stackhouse, Milwaukee - Signed after the loss of Michael Redd to provide bench firepower, Stackhouse was surprisingly effective. He credited his improved conditioning to the use of the P90X you've seen on infomercials. That said, Stackhouse is 35 and rated as replacement level last season. He's not a solution.

    Mario West, Atlanta - Last year in this space, I noted West's amazing feat of becoming the first player since the 1950s to average fewer than five minutes per game (4.6) in a career of at least 100 games. I'm happy to report West has now extended his own record after averaging 3.6 minutes last season. Basketball's greatest LOOGY is now averaging 4.4 minutes per game in his career. It is hard to imagine him playing for any other NBA team save the Hawks, and we'll see if Larry Drew has the same fascination as Mike Woodson with using West for one defensive possession at the end of quarters.

    Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kpelton.

    Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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