Analyzing the 2011 Free Agents: Shooting Guards

This is the second in a five part series in which I analyze the 2011 Free Agent market by position.  As a source I used ESPN's list of 2011 NBA Free Agents and for statistics I used Basketball-Reference.  This list of Free Agents only includes players that were on a teams roster at the end of last season.  Also, please keep in mind that while I will use John Hollinger's PER (Player Efficiency Rating), this is not a be-all, end-all stat.  There are several deficiencies, particularly that it is not a reliable measure for a player's defensive acumen, so keep that in mind.

The Kings have had a pretty good history with Shooting Guards: Reggie Theus, Mitch Richmond, Doug Christie, and Kevin Martin all had some of their best years in Sacramento.  In 2009 the Kings drafted the Rookie of the Year, who can play three positions, but most would call him a two guard (The "is he a PG or not" debate is pointless to me.  The facts are he'll have the ball in his hands a lot and he's got great size.  Who cares what we call him?).  Last year at the trade deadline, the Kings acquired another promising young Shooting Guard in Marcus Thornton, who also looks to be a big part of this team's future if the team can retain him in Free Agency.

Fortunately for us, while Marcus is a Free Agent this year, he's a Restricted Free Agent, meaning that the Kings can match any offer that Thornton gets.  It's extremely unlikely that Thornton isn't retained by the Kings and I have a feeling that as soon as the lockout ends the Kings will work the best to put an attractive offer on the table for Thornton to get him locked up as soon as possible.

With Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and Francisco Garcia on board for the long haul, I don't see the Kings trying too hard to acquire another Shooting Guard.  Still, you can never know what may happen with trades, and there is even the unlikely scenario Thornton signs with another team, so let's take a look at who else is available shall we?

Name

Age

PER

MPG

PPG

3P%

TS%

AST%

TOV%

USG%

Tracy McGrady

32

22.4

33.7

20.4

0.337

0.519

26.4

10.2

29.6

Michael Redd

32

19.7

33.5

20

0.383

0.56

12.3

8.2

26.5

Josh Howard

31

17.2

31.2

15.1

0.336

0.527

9.1

9.2

23.2

Marcus Thornton ®

24

17

25

13.6

0.371

0.538

11.7

8.4

25.1

Jason Richardson

31

16.7

35

18

0.373

0.531

13.9

9.9

23.8

Jamal Crawford

31

15.3

32.2

15.4

0.35

0.526

21.3

12.4

23.4

J.R. Smith

26

15.2

23.9

12.5

0.371

0.547

14.2

11.5

24

Mike Dunleavy

31

14.4

28.7

12.1

0.361

0.549

14

12.7

19.4

Delonte West

28

13.8

27.8

9.7

0.373

0.538

21

15.1

17.6

Marquis Daniels

31

13.5

22.5

8.6

0.232

0.508

13.6

13

19.4

Othyus Jeffers ®

26

13.4

12.7

4.2

0.25

0.53

8

14

16.1

Nick Young ®

26

12.7

21.9

10.9

0.383

0.53

7.6

9.9

23.5

Shannon Brown

26

12.3

16.4

6.9

0.337

0.51

10.4

11.2

21.1

Marco Belinelli ®

25

11.9

19

8

0.401

0.549

10.6

11.4

19.8

Von Wafer

26

11.9

12

5.1

0.32

0.507

9.8

9.9

21.8

Sasha Vujavic

27

11.7

15.9

5.6

0.371

0.529

12.3

9.5

16.6

Arron Afflalo ®

26

11.3

22.5

7.4

0.408

0.576

9

10.3

14.5

Willie Green

30

11.3

21.7

9.3

0.322

0.489

12.8

10.6

22.4

Roger Mason

31

11

18.7

6.9

0.38

0.528

12.2

10.3

18.1

Rasual Butler

32

10.6

23.9

8.5

0.361

0.502

6.1

8

17.9

Deshawn Stevenson

30

10.3

22.7

7.7

0.343

0.488

12.6

12.1

18

Daequan Cook ®

24

9.4

20.6

7.5

0.369

0.501

7.5

8.1

18.6

Mario West

27

9.4

4.9

1

0.2

0.493

9.3

16.6

10.8

Sasha Pavlovic

28

8.5

16.2

5.3

0.354

0.489

9.7

14

17.7

Garrett Temple

25

8.1

11.1

3.8

0.311

0.486

14.6

20.1

20.2

Statistics used are career averages to give a larger sample size.  Players with  ® next to their name are Restricted Free Agents.

Not bad, eh?  Much better than the available Point Guards, for sure.  Marcus Thornton's name immediately pops out on the list at the top of Player PER once you take away McGrady, Redd and Josh Howard, all three of who have inflated career statistics from their pre-injury riddled years.  Thornton is also the youngest player on the list to boot.  It looks like we've got ourselves a keeper there.  Unfortunately other teams will see the value in him as well, which is why there remains a minuscule chance that he doesn't re-sign.  I don't see that happening, but if the Kings don't act quickly to lock him up for a reasonable price, we could see another team throwing a big offer at him either hoping to land him or to make the Kings match and lower the competition for other Free Agents by cutting our available spending money.  That would be less bad than losing him outright, but still annoying.

Aside from Marcus though there is still a lot of value to be had.  Assuming we keep him, that takes our sights off of some of the bigger names, and since keeping Marcus is the likely scenario, lets start with that premise.  At that point if we were going for a shooting guard we'd probably be going for a veteran role player.  

Let's get Tracy McGrady out of the way first because I know some people will want him due to past glory.  By some measures, Tracy McGrady had a decently successful season in Detroit last year.  He played largely within himself, and had his healthiest season since 2007.  But if you look past the statistics, you get a different picture.  McGrady was one of the prominent members of a dysfunctional Detroit team that mutinied against now fired coach John Kuester.  There's also the fact that McGrady will not be happy in a small role, which is what he'd have with the Kings.  He's just not wired that way.  Call it "Iverson Syndrome".  When you've been one of the best players in the league for such a long time, it's almost impossible to adjust to being a bench player, particularly on a non-contending team.

Josh Howard is also a no-go for me.  He's just way too injury prone, and he's never been a good shooter.  What defensive skill he did have has gone with his athleticism.  Michael Redd?  He's even more injury prone than Howard, but at least he can shoot.  I don't know if he has anything left in the tank though.  

Mike Dunleavy actually isn't as bad as you might think.  He can shoot, rebound well for a guard(career 14.9 DRB%), and pass.  He's also got the versatility to play three positions.  Dunleavy's a defensive sieve though, and he's also had a bit of an injury history.  Someone will offer him more money and a bigger role than we will, and it won't be a big loss.

Delonte West is statistically one of the guys I'd love to have off this list.  He can shoot, pass, and defend.  Unfortunately he's also mentally ill, which has caused problems with him wherever he's been.  Is that a risk a team like the Kings would be willing to take?  History suggests that Petrie isn't afraid to take a potential headcase if he thinks it will improve the team.

Deshawn Stevenson is less versatile than West, but probably more stable (still crazy, but more stable).  He came up pretty big in the playoffs for the Champion Mavericks, both on the defensive end and with his three point shooting.  Now that he's got a taste for winning though, would he come to a team like the Kings for a smaller role? I don't think so.

Shannon Brown was a Free Agent last year as well and he took less money to remain with the Lakers, but he wouldn't come to Sacramento.  If he leaves Los Angeles, he's going for a bigger role, something the Kings can't give him.  Even if they could, I'm not sure I'd want him.  Brown gets a lot of hype for his ridiculous athleticism and from national exposure, but he's not really all that good.  

***

Now what about if we lost Marcus Thornton?  Then there would be a pretty big hole to fill, and fortunately there is some talent available.

Jason Richardson and Jamal Crawford would provide the most immediate impact, but they're on the back-ends of their careers, and neither player is known for much else than scoring.  Of the two, I'd probably prefer Crawford because he's a much better passer but Richardson is the better defender.

A younger option would be J.R. Smith.  Smith is arguably the most talented player on this list, but he has his own problems (who doesn't?).  Defensively, Smith has made improvements, but he's still a minus defender despite having the athletic gifts to be a lot better.  Smith also makes a lot of bonehead plays:

Its impossible for me to talk about J.R. Smith and not link this video.  Still, if we lost Thornton, we could do worse than replacing him with Smith (like Willie Green).

The other two guys who stand out to me as possible Thornton replacements are Arron Afflalo and Nick Young.  Both, like Thornton, are Restricted Free Agents, and their respective teams like them a lot, which means they'd be very hard to acquire without overpaying.  Afflalo is the one I prefer.  He's a very efficient shooter (leading the list in True Shooting %) and hasn't shot less than 40% from three for the last three years.  He's also made strides as a defender, although he's not elite or anything.

Young is like a poor man's Kevin Martin.  He can shoot very well, so he does, a lot, and doesn't do much else, including defensively (also like Kevin!).  Unlike Kevin though he's not good at drawing contact and getting to the line.  Fortunately for him, he's also unlike Kevin in the fact that so far he's been relatively injury free.

Marcus Thornton is still the top priority.  But its nice to know we have options* in case the unthinkable happens and he signs elsewhere.

* Sasha Vujacic is not one of these options. Sasha Vujacic is never an option.

(Tomorrow, we take a look at the available Small Forwards)

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