Counter-Point: Here there be no Dragons

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Published: May 15, 2012

Part 2 of Jake and Ryan’s debate on whether the Hornets should sign Goran Dragic during free agency.

The free agency pool this year isn’t teeming with exceptional fish.  Most of the real talent comes in two varieities: Old or Restricted.  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say there is almost nothing the Hornets will do in free agency this summer that will turn them into anything resembling a contender.

That said, there has been one name cropping up in discussions about the Hornets all over the web:  Goran Dragic.

Dragic plays for Houston, and was nearly a Hornet at the start of the season before the Paul to the Lakers trade was aborted.  That near-trade has clearly stuck in the minds of some Hornets fans, and the fact Dragic is unrestricted and played well over the last two months of the year has some hoping he could be the new Point Guard of the Future.

My take?  No thanks.

Take a look at these two lines:

FG% FT% Pts/40 Ast/40 TS% AST% TO% Usage PER
46.2% 80.5% 17.7 8.0 56.7% 29.5% 13.2% 21.7% 18.03
45.6% 87.2% 18.3 7.5 54.0% 27.4% 10.2% 23.0% 17.97

The first of those players is Goran Dragic. The other? The much maligned Jarrett Jack.

Right. Jarrett Jack.

But wait, you say, those are full season stats, and Dragic only started the last couple months? You feel that’s misleading? Fine. Here’s Dragic’s advanced stats as a starter.

48.7% 83.9% 19.9 9.1 60.9% 34.6% 12.7% 23.1% 20.14

Ahhh…those numbers look better.  Look at that shooting!  Those increased assists?  That shiny PER!  And his defense can’t be worse than Jarrett Jack’s, right?

Sure.  Still, buyer beware.

Fluke Shooting

Dragic’s true shooting percentage(TS%) was nuts as a starter.  A 60.9% TS% is something to drool over.  Here’s the problem:  Dragic has been in the league for 4 seasons now – and this stretch was way above the norm for him.  He’ s not a bad shooter, but it’s rare that a player can sustain a sudden bump of 5% in their true shooting percentage and keep that going forward.  They fall back to earth.  I expect that will happen – and in truth, it had already started to happen.  In Dragic’s last two weeks as a starter, he shot at his normal TS% of 56% – and the Rockets, you’ll remember, rode him right out of playoff contention.

That doesn’t scream difference maker to me.

The Eventual Price

Still, let’s even grant Dragic retains his shooting numbers as a starter.  How much is that improvement over Jack really worth?  Remember, Dragic isn’t a sexy name just for Hornets fans.  His hot close to the season earned a bunch of hype around the league – and I’ve seen writers in Portland, Phoenix, Indiana, Utah,  Atlanta, and Golden State bring him up as a target this off-season.  Houston management has also said they would try to keep him.

That’s seven teams trying to land him without factoring in NY, NJ, Orlando, Miami, Dallas and Charlotte – all of whom could use an upgrade or major help at PG and only one is going to get Deron Williams.  Those teams other options?  Jameer Nelson maybe?  Felton, Hinrich, Aaron Brooks or the ancient Miller or Nash?   Other than Nash, are any of those guys better than Dragic?  No, I’d say not.

That, of course, means he’ll have lots of suitors.  Teams spent the last couple years eviscerating their salary numbers, and as a result, a lot of teams will have a lot of money to spend this year.  I expect he’ll get an offer averaging 4 years at no less than 9 million per.  Stuckey demanded that.  Mike Conley and Calderon demanded more in their time.  That seems to be his market.

Do you think Dragic is worth that much of our cap?  Next to Gordon who will probably command 12 million or more a year?  Is Dragic, who needs the ball in his hands, the type of guard you want to put next to Gordon?

I don’t think so.  I’d rather keep Jack and pay 60% of that salary or look at other veteran options and trades.

Hopefully, in New Orleans, there will be no Dragons. (Unless you are watching Game of Thrones. Which you should be. If you aren’t, you are banned. You hear me, McNamara!?! Banned!!)

43 comments
kempleton
kempleton

9 mil per year for Dragic? OK, We said he played well with Lowry out but I do not think he deserves to earn that much. If we can bring him cheap that's great! If not, I'd hit the free agent market of 2013 instead. Thank you. Why? 1- Jack is going to be in his contract year, which means we can expect another great performance year from him. 2- I have just checked out the 2013 PG free agent market and I am amazed! John Wall, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Ricky Rubio, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Jeff Teague. Most of them restricted, but worth a try instead of tying 9 mil per year to Dragic. 3- I have seen that Eric Gordon can play PG if needed. So, no hurry to tie big money to a player like Dragic. 4- We have never seen Dragic play playoff basketball as a starter. He may struggle with that. If we want to become a contender every piece is extremely important. We gotta weigh the idea of bringing Dragic and his ability to lead a contending team!

Josh
Josh

Don't forget about Chris Paul.

kempleton
kempleton

He's gone. He wanted to be a part of a bigger market. He got what he wanted. I don't think he will come back... I am heart-broken, I am not sure if I want him back. This is a new era for us...

Jordan
Jordan

I think Kyle Lowry should be our number one trade target at point. He plays great D, shot pretty well this year (.375% 3PT), and had decent assist numbers. Again, more "young veteran" talent.

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

If we can get Dragic for cheap that good just dont overpay, but if we get him I think Greivis or Jack will be gone because I dont think either one will be willing to be the 3rd Pg off the bench, unless Jack plays some 2 & keep Marco off the court for a few minutes to give to Jack & keep everyone happy with their minutes, but that would be hard managing those minutes concerning that Gordon will be playing 30+ min at the 2 & Marco will already have limited min, so I think if we get another Pg (which we should be looking for because we are starting backups) then Jack or Greivis has to go :(

Eli
Eli

Raymond Felton is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He was playing at an all-star level on the Knicks last season before the trade, and after the bad season he had this year, he could probably be signed for cheap, much cheaper than Dragic. Do we sign him and hope we get the Felton from the Knicks instead of overpaying Dragic?

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

Felton had great numbers for the Knicks for the same reason Lin did-D'Antoni's system. He went to a more conventional team and sucked, ad he would be even worse here as the Hornets are one of the few teams that have a slower pace than the Blazers. If Hornets plan on building around Gordon (which I am not convinced they are), then you need a point guard who can play off the ball and knock down shots on offense- and ideally guard bigger 2 guards on defense, but that is not a must. Don't think Dragic or Felton match that exact criteria, at least not much more than Jack. You know who would be a fit, though, in a weird way- Jason Kidd. Barring some big trades, however, Hornets won't be attractive to Kidd, but if they were to trade their picks for front court help, Kidd would fit great next to Gordon for one year. If Gordon is not in the plans and the Hornets can do a sign and trade (Cleveland would be interested- Andy V and future pick?), then I would be down with Dragic.

David
David

I love a Beal-Gordon backcourt. Both are considered "combo" guards who can handle the ball, score, and play D. Out of the final 8 teams, only two (clippers, celtics) have what you would consider a "true" pass first distributing point guard. Holiday, Chalmers, George Hill, Parker, Westbrook, Sessions are all penetrating, score first guys. In fact, I'd say "true point guard" is one of the most overrated terms in sports. Kinda like "shutdown corner." obviously you would love to have one, but there just aren't many out there and you don't need one to win. None of the last 20 NBA champs have had a true PG, except maybe Boston (rondo was a rookie, however) and Dallas (a verily, very old Jason Kidd doesn't really count anyway). Personally, I love the Beal-Gordon backcourt combo.

David
David

Yeah, well Harden comes off the bench, but Thabo Sefalosha (sp?) is basically Trevor Ariza. At crunch time, it's Harden and Westbrook. As for Westbrook never winning it, he's 22 and they've been to the 2nd round and will now get to the Western Conference Finals, at the worst. It can work. It would work. I'd rather have the better ball player than reach for a position of need and get an inferior player (Marshall, Sullinger). Get the better ball player. Get the better athlete. Get the guy that can put the ball in the basket.

David
David

I'd rather go that route than to overpay for a role player like Dragic or use up our 2nd pick on a guy like Marshall (who, IMO, is basically a slightly more athletic Grevious Vasquez). You know who else would be a great fit: George Hill from Indiana. He's restricted, but with them having to pay Hibbert I doubt that they can afford him at the 6 or 7 million/yr he will be commanding.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

I agree if Beal is the best player on the board when it's our turn we should take him. I'm just not sure the whole "using two combo guards primarily" thing is something that we should be exploring.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

Those are all good points. However I don't think we've ever seen two combo guards be successful either. There's a difference between a combo guard and a score 1st PG.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

There's a reason OKC brings Harden off the bench. Honestly I don't really like Westbrook running the point and I don't see them ever winning it all as long as he continue to play the position or play with his mentality. Hey could it work maybe, but I'm not a fan of it. Gordon has a pretty high basketball IQ, however I'm not sure I want him "running" the team.

David
David

Again, when Gordon is playing, the offense will run through him on the pick n roll. That will be the basis of the offense, just as it was when Chris Paul. Looking at metrics, Eric Gordon was the 2nd most efficient player in pick n roll situations in '10-'11. CP was #1. Beal is a good passer, a good shooter, can handle well enough where Chad Ford says some teams think he can play point. Adding Beal to the mix gives you the flexibility to play different lineup combinations with Jack, Vasquez, Beal, and Gordon. Beal is also big and strong enough to slide over to the 3 if you want to go small. Jason Smith, Aminu, Beal, Gordon, Jack would be a very good small ball lineup. I hate the notion that "you need a PG to get you into the offense and get other guys the ball." That's a draconian (see what i did there) philosophy that has been proven wrong. Jack does a good job at the point, but when it comes to nut cuttin time he cannot create his own shot at the end of games. Gordon can. That's why I don't necessarily think we "need" a point guard, I think we need better athletes who can score the ball. Beal fits that bill. Robinson, Davis, MKG do to. Marshall, Sullinger, Henson, Zeller do not.

DownUnder
DownUnder

Its such a black and white way to look at it and say a PG is needed to get other team mates the ball. As like players that aren't a PG just shoot and dont do anything in a play except off ball movement and shooting. This new style of Hornets offense wont look like the last where one of the elite passing PG handled the ball most of the time. But that also doesnt mean it wont work, a Beal/Gordon backcourt led team wouldn't have issues with ball distribution cause neither of them are blackholes. They would only be more offensively diverse than a PG driven offense and that would enable us to not be always dependent on Eric Gordons health through stretches of a season. The Westbrook/Harden example is a good example. Although the individual paly styles would be way different, it shows how an offense can fully function without someone being depended on to get more than 5 assists every night.

Matt
Matt

Gordon/Beal could be compared to Westbrook/Harden. That would be a similar comparison, and an example of success for two combo guards.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

I think the potential problem with a Gordon/Beal back court is what about the rest of the team? By this I mean who gets them the ball? Who controls the the tempo? Who gets everybody into position? Who sacrifices his game to get others involved? These are the things that are expected out of the PG position that most combo guards struggle with. A combo guard is simply a SG in a big PG's body with PG handles. They want to shoot. Either one or both Gordon and Beal would have to completely change their mentality for this pairing to be successful.

David
David

Gordon will dominate the ball on the pick n roll for the most part when he is in the game. The beauty of having Beal is that he is a knockdown 3 point shooter. Perfect fit for what Gordon gives you. If Jarrett Jack is a starting point guard, then Bradley Beal can be. I actually think Jack is the perfect type of point guard for this team, when Gordon is there. Beal is a bigger, more athletic, better shooting version of Jarrett Jack.

DownUnder
DownUnder

I was 50-50 on Dragic but I like Ryan's arguement more so i'll vote to pass, I just think if you cant get a top 10 PG in this era then you go to battle with what you got that's cheap and you spend your money somewhere else. I'm one of the rare ones that see's a possible Brad Beal drafting this year that we could see be combined with Gordon to make a new hybrid backcourt. People will probably say "Neither guy can handle point guard" or "oh but you cant draft that high to just get a Gordon backup." Firstly i dont think a team is predicated on traditional point guards, as we saw in the few games he played that Eric actually gets the team to play in a much more functional manner without that directly leading to assist numbers. Secondly people also forget that guys drafting top 5 actually aren't given starters roles from the beginning despite the quality of teams they go to. In the last 3 drafts only Tyreke Evans was drafted top 5 and not number 1 overall who got the start from game 1. So with that i can see a Jack/Vasquez Gordon/Beal backcourt working for next year with Gordon and Beal getting alot of time together and eventually we could see how that turns out. I dont think that would be Monty's favorite plan if he's desperate to get to the playoffs again but I just think a Gordon and Beal future backcourt isn't one that should be so easily dismissed.

NOS-3RD GEN
NOS-3RD GEN

I think we should find two other scores at both forward positions. At point guard we need a defensive-distributing guard. At Center we need a defensive-blocking/rebounding center. Add a scoring -defensive Guard along w/2 role players. We should be awesome!!!

Tyler
Tyler

Do not give up on Greivis Vasquez yet. He played pretty well with Eric Gordon in the line-up and with Marco Bellinelli too. As stated earlier, we have a decent group of PG's on our roster. The area that the team needs to address that is our glaring weakness is: SCORING.

da ThRONe
da ThRONe

I'm not a big fan of Vasquez being a starter. However he's an ideal fit for Gordon. "The General" is a big point guard, and good spot up shooter.

Josh
Josh

I love Dragic. If we can get him for 6-7 million, that would be great. If not, there is no reason to sign him. We have Jarrett Jack, Greivis Vasquez, and Jerome Dyson; they are all good backups. Maybe we can draft Kendall Marshall at 10 or trade down to get Tony Wroten Jr. The guard position overall is not one to focus on.

Bee dat
Bee dat

youre onto something there. i hope spending that 10 th pick on kendall renders this debate moot.

Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson

i think we should not sign him we have decent point guards we should sign an okey small foward with more experience

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

For me to declare a winner, I need to hear a little bit from each of you on how you envision Dragic fitting (or not fitting) next to Gordon. Houston was built completely different. Different rosters, different pace, different styles. How he did over there concerns me not.

Jake Madison
Jake Madison

As for Dragic fitting with the Hornets: basically just replace Jack with him. As a starter, Dragic takes about half a shot less than Jack, yet he scores more efficiently (1.38 points per shot). So you don't really need to worry about him taking shots away from Gordon. With Dragic, I'd expect Monty to run the same type of slow, half-court offense, just with much better production offensively from the point. Dragic takes more of his shots from close range than Jack (31% vs. 13%) which will allow him to kick the ball out to Gordon for an open 3. He is also a a fairly consistent 3 point shooter which should space the court more when Gordon has the ball in his hands. I dont think he's the type of player who will dramatically change the team, but he is definitely an upgrade over Jack. Plus, at 26, he's that young veteran player that Hugh Weber said the team will target.

504ever
504ever

I disagree. Dragic's price (contract terms) will be so high he will never play to a level to make it worth it for the Hornets to sign him. He isn't a fit salary-wise, so he can never be a fit any other way (including basketball wise). So opinions about his basketball fit are needed. My declared winner: the Hornets will not sign him.

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

To be honest, I haven't watched game of thrones. Sorry Ryan

pschafer
pschafer

Anybody else really wishing we had gotten Eric Bledsoe in the CP3 deal? The last couple of games in the Memphis series he looked to me like the light had gone on. Being around CP3 is working. I think he's going to be a darn good player next season.

Bee dat
Bee dat

yes thats really sticking n my craw

Chuck
Chuck

By that reasoning, we shouldn't wish we got him because if we did he wouldn't have had his light turned on by being around CP3...

pschafer
pschafer

Good point. But it might have happened anyway. Who knows - but he is playing some good basketball.

Jack
Jack

I say we don't need another pg this year let jack expire and Vasquez is a solid back up. Fill our empty holes before filling a half full hole.

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith

I have a confession.......I never seen Game of thrones

Ryan Schwan
Ryan Schwan

You, sir, are going to wake the Dragon.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

I am actively avoiding it until I read the books.

Bee dat
Bee dat

you win a golden crown

Bee dat
Bee dat

thats smart. youll be rewarded when you do