Counter-Point: Here there be no Dragons

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!!)


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