May 11, 2009

2009 Free Agents


With the much-anticipated summer of 2010 still more than a year away, I did a little research on who would be available this summer. Below are my picks for the top five UNRESTRICTED free agents (in no particular order):

- BEN GORDON:
The positives - We all know what B.G. can do: score. And he does it well. Unlike many big-time scorers, however, Gordon seems to save it for when it matters most. Ever since he came into the league, he has been amongst the leaders in fourth quarter scoring, and he didn't disappoint in this year's playoffs. B.G. dropped 40-plus in a back-and-forth game two against the Celtics. His fourth quarter heroics were dwarfed by Ray Allen's game-winning three, but they weren't overlooked by people like myself. Dude's a gamer.

The negatives - We have also come to know B.G.'s shortcomings. At 6'3", you'd like him to be more of a distributor (3.0 APG for his career). Although he's stout for his height, he isn't exactly a lockdown defender and can be taken advantage of in the post by bigger guards. In reality, outside of scoring, Gordon doesn't do much to fill up a box score.

The good fits - Utah, Phoenix, Chicago, any bad team where he can shoot 20+ times per game.
I think Gordon's game is better suited for the open court style of play that the West offers. Utah is going to lose a lot of scoring if Boozer packs his bags, and Gordon's defensive shortcomings could be masked by the physicality of Deron Williams. In Phoenix, B.G. could continue in his shoot-first ways with Nash dishing the rock, and Gentry's commitment to NO defense would be ideal for this volume shooter. Chicago grew up in the playoffs (despite the narrow loss), but they need to continue to surround the unselfish Derrick Rose with shooters. With Hinrich's departure probable, keeping Gordon could be a priority for Management. I don't think I need to explain why B.G. would flourish for a subpar team.


Has B.G. had enough in Chi-Town?



- ANDRE MILLER
The positives - Miller brings all the intangibles you want out of your point guard: leadership, poise, unselfishness. He's pretty physical for his size and a good passer. He's an accurate foul shooter in late-game situations and has been durable throughout his career. He's always amongst the league leaders in steals and rebounds well for a point guard (4.5 RPG in 08-09).

The negatives - Miller turned 33 this spring. He probably doesn't make much sense for a rebuilding team, as his window of peak play is behind him. He also has a hard time keeping up with younger, quicker point guards (e.g. Rondo, Paul, Parker, Harris). For a point guard, he is a dreadful three point shooter (28% in 08-09). As such, any team looking to pick him up needs to be equipped with shooters to surround him with.

The good fits - Portland, LA Lakers.
Miller would complement Portland's young guns perfectly and would provide veteran experience that the team is currently lacking. With Rudy Fernandez and the impending return of Martell Webster, the Blazers have the shooters in place that Miller needs. Miller could create more off the dribble than D-Fish, which would take some pressure off Kobe. I don't think the Lakers would be concerned with Miller's age, as they have the pieces in place to compete for NBA Championships NOW.


- CARLOS BOOZER (Player Option, but does anyone doubt he will take it?)
The positives - Boozer is a tireless offensive rebounder and a proven scorer. He has a good work ethic and is a pretty heady player (courtesy of Coach K). Boozer's ability to hit the 18-footer with regularity causes matchup nightmares, and his quickness enables him to defend the pick-and-roll.

The negatives - C.B. has a tough time guarding taller players and doesn't block many shots for a power forward. He has been somewhat injury-prone in his short career. Clearly, the Jazz see him as expendible as they have all but turned over the keys to Paul Millsap.

The good fits - New Jersey, Atlanta.
New Jersey has its center of the future in Brook Lopez (sigh), but they lack consistent play from the power forward position. If Carter is shipped, Boozer and Harris would be a good scoring tandem. In Atlanta, Boozer would enable Josh Smith to play more minutes at his natural position (small forward), Horford could slide to Center, and Zaza Pachulia could slide down the bench. Although Horford is a decent scorer, it is not his natural strength. Boozer would take some pressure off Joe Johnson and Horford could focus on being a beast at the defensive end and on the boards.


RASHEED WALLACE
The positives - Sheed can stretch the defense with his three-point shooting. He's also a very underrated defender and a decent rebounder. When he is focused, there is only one player in the league who can stop him from scoring from the mid-post (Garnett). Plus, he will put fans in the seats with his childish antics.

The negatives - Often times, I wonder if Sheed even cares. He is one of the most gifted players in the league, but seems content to stand on the three-point line most of the time. His antics, while they draw headlines (good or bad), can be a huge distraction. Even though he has great touch from the floor, his free throw shooting has been suspect at times.

The good fits - San Antonio, Dallas, Golden State.
San Antonio's window is closing quickly, but Sheed would fit in nicely with what they try to do at the defensive end. His ability to stretch the defense would give Duncan more room to operate in the post. Dallas is one- or two- pieces away from being great, and Sheed could be just the lift they need. Just make sure he isn't rooming with Josh Howard on road trips. Don Nelson has shown the ability to harness the energy of hot-headed players (see Stephen Jackson). In Golden State, Sheed could play the uptempo style and fire 5-7 threes per game without getting benched.


-LAMAR ODOM
The positives - Odom possesses the rare combination of size, athleticism, and court vision that GM's drool over. He probably has the best handles of any 6'10 player in the league, and is one of the better rebounders in the game. Odom can create matchup nightmares when he is playing at the three spot, towering over his defenders. L.O. has a great touch around the basket.

The negatives - At times, Odom disappears on the court. The rap sheet says that he takes plays off, which I can't necessarily argue with. Odom is a mediocre (at best) outside shooter, and his free throw shooting is especially a problem late in games. When playing the three spot, he can create congestion on the court as he is best suited around the paint. His point guard mentality can lead to careless turnovers at times.

The good fits - Cleveland, Houston.
L.O. would flourish playing alongside King James. He is a significant upgrade from Varejao/B. Wallace at the offensive end, and would add the athleticism that the Cavs need (outside of James, of course). Odom does well in situations where he plays the second- (or third) fiddle on offense. Houston is another team that needs to get more athletic. They already have guards who can knock down the three and power forwards who can step out and hit jumpers. If Artest leaves this summer, Houston will need a versatile player like Odom at both ends of the floor.


Didn't make my list: Mike Bibby (yawn), Ason Kidd (too old), Allen Iverson (cancerous), Antonio McDyess (too old), Ron Artest (too crazy), Shawn Marion (I think he'll stay in TOR), Al Harrington (unimpressed), Jermaine O'Neal (too injury-prone)




2 comments:

Anthony Wilson said...

Where have you been at man? I kept been checking for you, glad you're back.

KneeJerkNBA said...

Yeah, welcome back. Astute observations. Andre Miller would make a fine Blazer (although I'm still hoping Pritchard finds a way to get Deron Williams or CP3 to opt out and come here).