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Beno Udrih vs. Rodney Stuckey vs. Mike Conley

The brilliant Kelly Dwyer has wrapped up his point guard rankings at Ball Don't Lie; as always, it's a great and insightful read. (The previous link goes to the top 10; here is 11-20 and 21-30.) Tyreke Evans will be on the shooting guard list, so look for that in the next couple days.

I looked for Beno Udrih on this list, and didn't see him, so I looked again. Still didn't see him. Thinking I may have gone wacky, I did the ol' Ctrl+F. No dice. No Beno is the top 30. Last night, KD tweeted that, along with countryman Goran Dragic, Beno was one of the final cuts.

But I didn't become truly confused until I noticed Rodney Stuckey at No. 29 and Mike Conley at No. 27.

Other point guards near the bottom? Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, George Hill? I can see taking them over Beno. I may not agree, but I can see it. But for Stuckey, a low-efficiency scoring lead guard, and Conley, a low-everything shutterbug, I just can't get on board.

About Stuckey, KD writes, in part:

He's yet to find a balance between acting as a scoring point guard or passing point man, and the unfortunate truth behind those two aspects of his game is that he's not particularly adept at either.

About Conley, KD writes, in part:

Even though he doesn't turn 23 until this October, does Mike really seem like a guy who is just waiting to take a big step forward? His game, and sometimes middling quickness, just don't seem suited to it. Which is fine, for a sound backup or starter in the pinch.

That's just the problem with these players. Stuckey threads the line between scoring lead and playmaker. But he's awful at the former, with a ghastly shooting percentage and too few free throws to make up for it. As for playmaking? He averaged fewer assists and more turnovers per game than Beno last season. He's not a better scorer than Beno, and he's not a better playmaker. He's likely a somewhat better defender, though it's hard to tell by how much. In the aggregate, it's unlikely he added more to the Pistons than Beno added to the Kings last year, and I fail to see how that'd change this season without massive improvement on offense from Stuckey and a fall-off from Beno.

Conley isn't a much better shooter than Stuckey, though the Grizzly can stroke threes. But he rarely creates for himself, and isn't a Brevin Knight in terms of creating for others. He's Howard Eisley. Now Eisley had a long career, and some nice moments. But Beno's a lot more than that, right? Again, if you want Conley over Udrih this season, you're counting on a fall-off for Beno and a big jump from Conley.

Will Beno fall off? Mike Prada said he thinks Beno's shooting percentages were flukey last season, a fair concern. Let's take a look at his three seasons in Sacramento.

Season Minutes 2P% 3P% 3PA/FGA
2007-08 2080 .482 .387 .193
2008-09 2270 .490 .310 .162
2009-10 2477 .529 .377 .236

The three-point shooting was not flukey -- he shot better in his first season in Sacramento and, for what's it worth, his rookie season in San Antonio (58/142, .408). And Beno took a greater share of his shots from behind the arc, which boosted his effective field goal percentage and True Shooting percentage. (Thanks be to Paul Westphal, Tyreke Evans and, later, Carl Landry.)

The two-point shooting? Last year's ace performance was certainly better than usual, and two-point field goal percentage is in fact one of the most volatile stats there is. Call it a fluke if you'd like; you'll get no argument here.

But guess the two-point percentage of Stuckey and Conley.

Stuckey: .418
Conley: .464

Even at Beno's worst, he's shot much better than that on twos. So, again, it'd take more than just a reversion to the norm for Beno to be less valuable on offense than Stuckey and Conley. It'd take that reversion, even more slipping from Beno and a big jump for the two kids. You want to bet on all of that?


I have the utmost respect for Kelly, who is the best game analysis in the nation, bar none. No one being published anywhere breaks down a game better than KD. No one. Anywhere.

But grown men can disagree, and so, here, I do disagree.