The Missing Piece: For What They’re Worth

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Published: February 9, 2013
Missing Piece Four

When the topic of free agency comes up, the conversation always finds its way to the price tag, (i.e.) –  How much would you pay this guy? What is he worth? How much will other teams offer? If you like a guy, you don’t want to underpay and risk losing him to someone else, but you also don’t want to overpay and put yourself in a situation where you can’t sign other players in the future. You want the guys that you want for the “right” price, but how do you go about calculating that in when the player is not in a vacuum? The truth is that he is worth what the market is willing to pay him and if you want a guy bad enough, you have to be willing to pay that sticker price to get him. Or, you can take a more objective route where you create a formula that determines a player’s potential worth and stick to that price no matter where the market goes. In this edition of The Missing Piece, I attempt to do just that.

First off, we have to come up with categories and rank their importance. Here is what I have arrived at in no particular order: Production, Potential, Team Fit, and Importance of Position Played. Now to rank them.

1. Production (10 points Maximum)

Measuring how productive an NBA player is almost an impossible task, especially when they are being measured against other NBA players who are in different systems, have different roles, and completely different teammates. How do you compare Tony Parker against Kyrie Irving with regard to their production, for instance? Parker is in a system that emphasises that everybody touches the ball, and he also has the benefit of having several guys in that system who are familiar with the system, have high basketball IQ’s, and just happen to be among the best in the game at what they do. Meanwhile, Kyrie is asked to do practically everything in Cleveland and has lost his only quality veteran teammate (Varejao) for the season.

So do you reward Irving for his raw numbers and applaud him for his efficiency in a bad situation, or do you factor in intangibles like the fact that teams don’t “get up” to play Cleveland or that Irving is usually behind in games and possibly teams let up against Cleveland where they are always going full force against the Spurs? Honestly, you can go either way, and fans of teams bend the argument to their advantage. If a guy is on a team with stars, they say that his numbers are low because he has to share. If he is on a team of scrubs, they say his efficiency and assist numbers would be better if he had higher quality teammates.

For the purpose of this article, I will take into account: 1. Their overall production over the last two seasons, factoring both raw and advanced numbers. 2. What they are asked to do by their team and how they perform in that role. 3. How they perform in the areas that they are in most often both offensively and defensively.

2. Importance of Role Played (9 point Maximum)

So, if you have read anything I have written over the past three years or listened on the podcasts, you would know that I think positions are dead. In their place are “team roles”. Anthony Davis is not a power forward or a center, he is a pick and pop big who can rim run on offense. Defensively, he is a rim protector and a guy who can defend the pick and roll. So, when you are looking for a guy to put next to him, you shouldn’t be looking for a power forward or a center. Instead, you should be looking for a guy whose strengths compliment Davis’s weaknesses. A low post banger who can both score with his back to the basket and defend low post players as well. Or you can go with a stretch big on offense who gives Davis the space to rim run. Either way, you are finding a guy who plays a role, not a guy who plays one of the five specific positions.

With that in mind, some roles are more valuable than others, particularly in today’s NBA. Low post defender’s aren’t as important as weakside or pick and roll defenders in a league where very few guys can score in the low post. Spot up shooters who need others to create for them are a dime a dozen and are trumped by a guy who can get his own shot late in a game. When grading this category, you have to factor in not only how important the role is, but how hard it is to acquire a guy who can play that role and/or how hard it would be develop a player into that role. Guys like Jason Smith are great to have, but it is easier to take a raw prospect and make him an energy guy/hustler than it is to take a late 1st round pick and make him a 20 PPG scorer who can get an efficient shot at will late in games.

3. Team Fit (8 point Maximum)

The trickiest part with team fit is that you have to factor in variables from a future that can go in any direction. You are signing a guy today to fit into your current roster, but there is so much turnover in the NBA that he might end up being a redundant piece halfway through his contract. What you have to do, then, is bring a guy in who fits your team’s overall philosophies and is willing to adjust his game if the roster demands it. He also has to blend with the personalities that you have in your locker room, which is easily the hardest x-factor in this entire equation. You can do all the background research you want, but you won’t truly know the answer to the question of whether or not he fits until after you have already signed him to a multi-million dollar contract.

4. Potential (7 point Maximum)

Ah, the most subjective category of them all- potential. Obviously the definition of the word suggests that it is completely unknown and is just a guess based on a player’s past performance, their physical gifts, and how reasonable it is to expect improvements in the areas they are deficient in currently. Areas that more commonly improve once a player hits the middle/end of their prime are: turnovers, outside shooting percentage, and scoring efficiency. Players rarely improve their rebounding percentages, block and steal percentages, or their free throw percentage (though there have been exceptions like Tyson Chandler). Age also becomes a factor here, as does looking at how the player was potentially handcuffed with his last team.

Scoring System:

29-34: Max Contract

26-28: 10-13 million per

24-25: 6 – 9 million per

22-23: Mid-Level Exception

19-21: 2 – 4 million per

18 or under: Min. Contracts

2013 Free Agents

Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

Production: 8. Over the past two seasons, Brandon Jennings is in the top 10 amongst point guards in: points, steals, FT %, PER, steal %, and turnover %. He’s been player of the week in the East twice already this season, and he is currently 5th in steals per game this season. He also rarely misses a game. In fact, in three of his four seasons, including this one, he did not miss a single game. Where he suffers relative to some of his contemporaries is in the assist department and field goal percentage. Looking at his shot chart, it is due to the fact that he shoots just 27% on shots from 3-10 feet. Everywhere else he is either average or above average. The question with Jennings is simple: Will the two categories that he struggles in improve when he is surrounded by better talent? We’ll examine that more when we get to potential.

Role: 8. What better way to evaluate what matters than look at the two teams in the prior seasons NBA Finals and figure out what they had in common? When you look at Miami and OKC, you see that they are tough to matchup with because they have explosive playmakers who can get shots for themselves and others at will. An explosively quick point guard or wing who can break down a defense or kill you from deep if you back off of him is necessary for a deep playoff run. Jennings can get by most defenders any time he wants and is a big enough threat from deep that you can’t play off of him or go under picks. He also has shown the ability to make plays for others, but again, he hasn’t had enough talent in Milwaukee to allow him to be a playmaker. The onus has been on him to score instead. But the skill set is there for him to play one of the most important roles in the NBA.

Fit: 6. Ideally, the Hornets would prefer a bigger point guard who can compliment Gordon and switch on defense when the situation calls for it. But offensively, the two could be a perfect match as Jennings loves to attack from the right wing and Gordon prefers to attack from the left wing. They both have the ability to play on the ball and off on that end as well, so they can share the load and attack after the other player has broken down the defense and kicked it out.

Potential: 6. Last season, when Ersan Illysova decided that he was going to elevate his game for a new contract, Brandon Jennings played fantastic, efficient basketball and helped lead the Bucks to a 12-4 record down the stretch that nearly got them a playoff birth after 15-24 start. That was the first time in his career where Jennings had an efficient, All-Star caliber player next to him and it is no coincidence that he posted career highs in PER, offensive rating, and offensive win share. Imagine him on a team where he still has a guy who can play like Illysova did in that stretch (Anderson), the best rim runner he has ever played with (Davis), and the most efficient wing player he has ever played with (Gordon). In a scenario like that, isn’t it possible that we see the best version of Brandon Jennings?

Summary: 28. Jennings is a guy who should likely deserve a contract similar to the one’s that some of his fellow draft mates signed last summer. Curry, Holliday, and Lawson all got between 10 and 12 million dollars, and there is no reason to believe that Jennings will get less than that. But since Jennings will actually hit the free agent market, there is a chance someone could offer him a max deal to pry him loose from Milwaukee. Ironically, the current NBA player Jennings compares closest to with regard to win shares in his first four seasons? Eric Gordon.

Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta Hawks

Production: 7. Jeff Teague has turned himself into an efficient scorer who shoots high percentages in each area (46%, 40%, 87%), while also landing inside the top 15 amongst PG’s in assists (6.8) and steals (1.5). In fact, he is above average for a starting point guard in every area with the exception of rebounding and turnovers. As Teague’s usage rating has gone up, so has his turnover percentage, and as he has received a bigger load this season with the departure of Joe Johnson, his turnovers have climbed all the way up to three per game. Atlanta doesn’t really ask him to crash the boards, with Josh Smith and Al Horford down low, but if Teague wants to take that next step into the next tier of point guards, he is going to have to reduce the turnovers.

Role: 6. Teague is a guy who can get his own shot from time to time, but he’s not exactly a guy you can run isolation for and expect him to break down his man at will. The most efficient parts of his game are his spot-up offense and his transition offense, where he averages over 1.1 points per possession and shoots over 54%. In isolation and the pick and roll, he only averages .75 points per possession and shoots 37.5%. So, basically, you have a guy who can get out in the open court and play off of others in the half court, but can’t get his shot at will in big moments.

Fit: 6. A guy who can play off of Gordon on the offensive end and knock down three’s fits perfectly with what the Hornets are trying to do offensively. Defensively, Teague is a guy who does a great job of putting pressure on the ball and his active hands lead to a lot of deflections and steals. He also is extremely quick laterally and his speed gives him the ability to recover or help defensively, which is huge in Monty’s system. The issue is the turnovers and the lack of size, which all but guarantees that the Hornets backcourt would be non-existent on the glass, and when Lopez and Anderson are getting heavy minutes, everybody has to be able to chip in on the defensive boards.

Potential: 5. Teague has improved as a shooter and a playmaker over the last three years, but he is pretty close to his ceiling offensively due to his limited court awareness and lack of elite physical skills. He is fast, but not blinding. He can jump, but can’t soar. He is long, but not freakish. Basically, he is a good athlete, but not a great one and he lacks the “it” factor of a CP3 that allows  him to be elite in spite of his somewhat ordinary physical attributes. Where he can continue to improve, however, is in his deep shooting and his off-ball defense. Already this year, in addition to his increased percentages from deep, we have seen a vastly improved mid-range game from Teague, as he is shooting 43% from 10-16 feet. If he can continue this evolution and add the ability to consistantly pull up for a jumper off the pick and roll, he could turn himself into a consistent 18-20 PPG scorer in the mold of a guy like Damian Lillard.

Summary: 24. Jeff Teague is more of a combo guard offensively, good at playing with the ball or off the ball, but not great at either. That might be exactly what Gordon needs, as a ball dominant point guard forces Gordon into being more of a spot-up shooter, which is the least efficient part of his game. Defensively, Gordon and Teague could work together and drastically reduce the amount of penetration, but their lack of size and rebounding ability will put too much pressure on a collection of bigs who are well below average in that department. If the Hornets could get one more consistent rebounder and shot changer in the frontcourt, along with a guy who can score consistently in the low post, a Teague/Gordon backcourt could be ideal.

Andre Iguodala, SG/SF Denver Nuggets

Production: 9. When you take into account both offense and defense, Andre Iguodala has been one of the most productive and valuable players in the entire NBA these last few seasons. This season his offensive numbers are down a bit as he has tried to transition to Denver’s offense, but he still is in the top five amongst wing players in assists behind only LeBron, Wade, Kobe, and Harden- not horrible company. He excels in the half court when he is on the move, either off of cuts, rolls, or running off of screens and is obviously one of the best finishers in the league in transition. But it is on the defensive end where he is a superstar, consistently locking down the opposing teams’ best wing scorer, holding them to under 35% shooting from the field and just .75 points per possession.

Role: 7. In this league, a wing defender is worth his weight in gold because you are going to have to go through LeBron and Durant to win a title in all likelihood. Iguodala is fantastic as both an on-ball defender and a help defender, as he allows just .57 points per possession in isolation and his length contributes to spot up shooters hitting just 29% of their shots when he runs out at them. Offensively, however, he can be a bit of a liability at times in the half court and teams know that they can usually cheat off of him. He only shoots 32% on his spot-up jumpers, a number that he needs to get closer to 40 or 45 percent before teams start to worry about leaving him.

Fit: 8. Julian Wright, Quincy Pondexter, Trevor Ariza, Al-Farouq Aminu, Peja Stojakovic, Patrick Ewing Jr, DaJaun Summers, Dominic McGuire, Lance Thomas, and Xavier Henry. These have been Monty’s options at small forward since coming to New Orleans. Now I now he is a religious man, but something inside of me tells me that he would kill for a small forward who plays with consitent effort and energy on both ends of the court and has the ability to make the game easier for his teammates on both ends as well.

Potential: 4. Iguodala just turned 29 less than a month ago and with such a big part of his game being dependent on his atleticism, you wonder how long he can continue to play at this level. What you don’t have to worry about, however, is that he will lose all the intangibles he brings to the table- high IQ, leadership, selflessness, etc. In fact, these things only seem to get better with age, and the Hornets/Pelicans are in desperate need of a leader who can teach them how to play the game the right way. Adding a player who brings greatness every night is fantastic, but bringing in a guy who can bring the greatness out in his teammates every night is even more valuable.

Summary: 28. If the Hornets want to break the bank for Iguodala to shore up their one glaring weakness, nobody would blame them. They can get by with Vasquez at point guard and Lopez at center, and those two positions should become even stronger as Davis and Rivers develop. Iguodala would pair with Gordon to give the Hornets the best duo of wing defenders in the league, but some of the same spacing issues would persist offensively. But if another shooter or low post scorer can be added through the draft, some of those issues could be solved and this team could be fighting for a top-4 seed in the West as early as next season if they sign Iggy.

Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

Production: 8. Over the last two seasons, nobody in the entire league has crashed the offensive glass as well as Pekovic. He is averaging just over 3.8 offensive boards per game in that period and has an offensive rebound rate of close to 15%. His defensive rebound rate wasn’t as impressive last season, due in large part to the presence of Kevin Love, but this year Pekovic’s numbers have spiked in that area with Love out. He has also developed offensively, where he is putting up a career high 16 points on 51% shooting, and most importantly, he knows his limitations. On the season, he has only taken 24 shots outside of 9 feet and none further than 15 feet out. He has a hook shot, a turnaround, and some power moves, and that is all he shoots. He doesn’t float out to the three point line or play a pick and pop game. He’s just a nasty, old-school, low post player who is responsible for the Timberwolves being one of the most efficient offensive teams in the NBA over the last two seasons when he is on the court.

Role: 7. In a league where there are fewer and fewer low post options and more teams playing small ball at the end of games, a guy like Pekovic might not be as valuable defensively as he would have been 15 years ago, but his ability to dominate the block and the offensive glass practically forces teams to leave a big man on the court or risk being destroyed down low. The Thunder and Heat can get away with playing Bosh or Ibaka at center late in games most of the time because they don’t fear opposing centers making them pay at a higher rate than they make those teams pay for remaining conventional, but a beast like Pekovic could change that entire equation.

Fit: 7. The Hornets are currently stacked in the frontcourt, but none of their four talented bigs has a game anything similar to Pekovic. Lopez, Smith, Anderson, and Davis are all incredibly skilled and have the ability to face you up and knock down a jumper, but they are all finesse bigs where Pekovic is pure power. If the Hornets move Lopez for a wing or point guard, a guy like Pekovic would be ideal. Davis could remain a pick and pop four, while Pekovic can man the low post, and together they can simply control the boards for the next five years.

Potential: 6. Pekovic just turned 27, but is in only his third season in the league. He has shown steady improvement on the offensive end and with his rotations defensively. The next step will be developing a go to move on the left block. Right now, his post game is a little one-dimensional, as over 75% of his buckets have come on the right block. An improved hook shot from the other side would do wonders for his game.

Summary: 28. It sounds crazy, but in a free agency class that includes Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum, Nikola Pekovic might just be the best big man available this summer. He doesn’t have the health concerns that those two have. In fact, his body is his best asset, as he is nearly 260 pounds of pure muscle and power, and on a team that is so finesse, he just might be the perfect piece to complete this puzzle.

Tyreke Evans, PG, Sacramento Kings

Production: 7. His raw numbers look amazing, as he has put up 18, 5, and 5, with nearly a steal and a half since coming into the league. This season his shooting numbers are at an all-time high (47% FG, 36% from three) and as a result his PER (18.0) is his highest since his first season when he won Rookie of the Year. But digging deeper, there is nothing he does exceptionally well offensively. He is below average in isolation (34.5% from field, .73 ppp), even worse in the pick and roll (.67 ppp), and he shoots just 38% in spot-up situations. As you would suspect, he is good in transition, and has developed a bit of a post-up game. But that’s about it offensively, and defensively he is attrocious, ranking amongst the worst in the NBA in almost every situation. As of today, he ranks 336th in the league with regard to the number of points per possession he allows to the man he is defending.

Role: 6. I only put him this high because I think his next role will be as a change of pace scorer off the bench, and if you look at most of the contenders over the past 10-12 years, they have had a guy who was a 6th Man of the Year candidate. Evans might be able to become this if he goes to the right team. But he can’t defend and he can’t really create efficient shots for himself and others in the half court. Turn him into a lightning bug on the second unit, however, and you might have a true X-factor.

Fit: 3. He plays no defense and only scores efficiently in transition- something the Hornets rarely get out into. Need I say more?

Potential: 6. Evans was a guy that every GM would have given up a bounty for two years ago, but being in Sacramento has destroyed his game. They put a horrendous roster together that is just chalk full of guys who play a similar game to Evans and he has suffered because of it. Perhaps a change of scenery, a stable organization, and a more balanced roster will get Evans back on track, and if that happens, you could get a quasi All-Star for a fairly reasonable price.

Summary: 22. If you just look at Evans raw numbers, you see one guy, but if you sit down and actually watch some Kings games, you see a different player entirely. He gets his points, but they aren’t in the flow of the game, and his defensive is downright awful. Those things are acceptable on a second unit, perhaps, but he simply can’t be a starter on a quality team in this league at this stage of his career. With the Hornets already having Ryan Anderson anchoring the second unit, there just doesn’t seem to be a need for Tyreke.

Others:

Corey Brewer, SF, Denver Nuggets

Production: 6  Role: 5   Fit: 7  Potential: 4  Total: 23

A high-energy defender with a non-stop motor who can get hot from deep and spread the floor- I think Dell and Monty would jump all over that. Brewer is a perfect fit at the small forward position, save for the fact that he rebounds at a below average rate. The question with Brewer is whether he can be a full-time starter who can play 30-35 minutes per night. He has thrived the last two and a half seasons as a bench guy who gives 20-25 minutes a night, which allows him to play at the pace he plays at. More likely than not, Brewer would have to be a time-share small forward for a championship caliber team.

Paul Milsap, PF, Utah Jazz

Production: 8 Role: 7  Fit: 6  Potential: 4  Total: 25

If the Hornets deal Jason Smith or Robin Lopez and move Anthony Davis to Center full-time, a guy like Paul Milsap would be ideal for this young team in need of a veteran presence. Milsap’s raw numbers have gone down a bit because Utah is so loaded in the front court, but his PER has been the highest in his career these past two seasons (over 20 each year). He has added new wrinkles to his game each season and while he is not the elite offensive rebounder he was when he came into the league, he is a far better shooter and passer. Not a need for New Orleans now, but if they move a big or two, Milsap would be an ideal Pelican.

Al Jefferson, C, Utah Jazz

Production: 8  Role: 8   Fit: 7   Potential: 2   Total: 25

Over the last three seasons, Al Jefferson has only missed six games and has been one of the best low post scorers in the NBA in that time. He shoots over 72% at the rim over that period and has found ways to create for himself, as nearly 50% of his baskets are unassisted. And as that part of his game has evolved, his turnover percentage has actually gone way down over the last 3-4 years.  If Davis is going to evolve into more of a Kevin Garnett type of face-up scorer with Tyson Chandler lob potential, then a low post player like Jefferson could be a perfect compliment. The problem is that Jefferson will be 29 next season and if he gets a three or four year deal, he could be vastly overpaid by the end of his next contract.

Down the Line

Eric Bledsoe vs. Greivis Vasquez

As early as the middle of this month and as late as this July, Dell Demps will have to make a decision. The question that he has to ask himself is whether or not he believes Eric Bledsoe is a big enough upgrade over Vasquez to trade some assets for him AND pay him when he becomes a free agent. Let’s take a look at the categories:

Production: Vasquez: 7  Bledsoe: 6

Just one month ago, this would have been a landslide victory for Greivis, but with Chris Paul’s most recent injury, Bledsoe has gotten a few opportunities to start and has produced rather well. He’s put up 14, 5, and 5 with 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks while shooting fairly well (41%, 44%, and 80%). Bledsoe’s PER this season is elite (19.02) and he was terrific in the playoffs last season, shooting 59% while scoring 8 points in 17 minutes per game. Meanwhile, Vasquez has put up terrific raw stats this year, averaging 14, 9, and 5 while shooting high percentages (43, 36, and 77). The issue with Vasquez are the turnovers and his poor on-ball defense. Two things Bledsoe does far better than Greivis.

Role: Vasquez: 7  Bledsoe: 7

On one hand, you have a point guard who can run the half-court offense in a fairly efficient way in Greivis Vasquez. With Bledsoe, you have a defensive terror who can get out in transition on offense and score after another player has broken down the defense in the half court. You might be able to argue that in the Western Conference where you will have to go through Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and Russell Westbrook, that a defensive minded point guard might be more valuable, but there is definitely something to be said for a guy who will make those guys work on the defensive end as well. At this point it is a toss-up, but if Bledsoe can develop his half-court offense, he could be an invaluable piece on a contender while Vasquez’s ceiling is more limited. But we will get to that in our potential segment.

Fit: Bledsoe: 6  Vasquez: 5

Vasquez’s size is a huge benefit to the Hornets because Gordon is undersized and occasionally they can switch who they matchup against defensively. But Bledsoe’s strength, ability to rebound, and overall on-ball defense means he can effectively guard both positions just like Gordon. Vasquez can thrive as a primary ballhandler, while Bledsoe is better off being a second option, which might actually benefit New Orleans and Eric Gordon more specifically. Vasquez is a better spot up shooter, but if Monty really wants this to be an elite defensive team, there is no better place to start than with one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.

Potential:  Bledsoe: 6  Vasquez: 3

Both guys were taken in the 2010 draft, but Bledsoe just turned 23 while Vasquez is 26 years old. Not that age is the be all, end all when it comes to potential, but Bledsoe is just coming into his physical prime while Vasquez is in the middle of his. Vasquez’s assist percentage has gone up every year in the league while his turnover percentage has gone down in small increments, but in the area where there is the biggest discrepancy between Vasquez and Bledsoe (defense), it is hard to imagine how Greivis really improves because of his poor foot speed. Bledsoe, meanwhile, needs to work on his half-court offense- more specifically, managing a team in that setting. He has had the opportunity to learn from the best in CP3 the last two seasons and has improved his turnover rate while increasing his usage. As Bill Simmons has pointed out, “There are only 4-5 players in the entire league with the physical attributes Bledsoe has,” and now that his offense is steadily improving, you can see that the sky is the limit for Bledsoe.

Overall: Bledsoe: 25  Vasquez: 22

When you talk about that tier with Jrue Holliday, Ty Lawson, Brandon Jennings, etc., it is far more likely that Eric Bledsoe finds himself in that group than Vasquez. Because of his physical limitations, it is reasonable to project that any improvements Greivis makes from here on out will be minor, while Eric Bledsoe has a much higher ceiling. Now, Bledsoe might suffer from not having CP3 around or he might not be able to keep up his style of play for 36 minutes a night over an 82 game season. When it comes to projecting forward, you just never know. But after seeing the flashes in small minutes turn into very good production in the extended minutes he has been getting as of late, it is reasonable to expect that Bledsoe becomes a top 10 point guard in the next 2-3 years, and perhaps even an All-Star. For that reason, he is probably deserving of an 8-10 million dollar per year contract, while Vasquez should slide in at around the mid-level.

 The Missing Piece is a weekly feature that can be found every Saturday only on Hornets247.com. For past issues in this series, click here.

 

20 comments
JayDogon
JayDogon

Imagine if we would have also gotten Bledsoe in that CP3 trade like we wanted and still traded for Vasquez to run our second unit! Sigh, great article, GEAUX PELS

504ever
504ever

I love Brewer as an improvement to the Hornets who will not cost us any assets and will not be expensive to sign. I can easily see he and Aminu spitting the 48 minutes at SF and love that they bring different skills to the table. Aminu is more like an athletic, as compared with skilled, PF. He rebounds and can really run the floor when someone else gets a defensive rebound. Brewer is more of an offensively skilled SF. I expect the Hornets to resign Aminu, and anytime you can add talent (Brewer) without losing any, it is a good thing. It is also something Dell does well. Think about how we acquired Lopez, Anderson, and Smith just to name three players currently playing big roles for the Hornets.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I personally would be surprised if we re-sign Aminu unless he goes around the league and can't get a reasonable offer and we take him back for cheap. My new dream/realistic offseason would go: 1. Draft Otto Porter 2. Trade Lopez for Gerald Henderson 3. Sign Pekovic for 4 years/45 mil 4. Sign Brewer for 3 years/ 16 million Vasquez/Rivers Gordon/Henderson Brewer/Porter/Miller AD/Anderson Pekovic/Smith

cmcmil1
cmcmil1

Funny, I don't really disagree with what you've said but I really wish we could upgrade at PG. At this point I think we know what we're going to get out of Vasquez. Some nights he's going to get a good matchup and put up quality numbers. Some nights, like tonight, he's going to simply get smoked. It's clear that we're weak at C, SF, and PG. If we're needing to triage with limited resources, I'd still prioritize our PG over C.

biasvasospasm
biasvasospasm

Obviously, meant SF instead of SG for Porter

biasvasospasm
biasvasospasm

I posted a similar ideal offseason on hr.com. The major differences were drafting Marcus Smart instead of Otto Porter and trading Lopez for Wilson Chandler instead of Henderson. Otto Porter might be my second favorite player in he draft for this team, though, and if Smart blows up like I think he will it'll be hard to draft him. Porter also looks like he's becoming a special player and an ideal complement at SG. I see aspects of Kirilenko, Batum and Prince., and would be thrilled with that offseason.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

With Pek vs. Lopez, it all depends on how big of an upgrade you believe that to be. We keep saying we have this strong front court, but do we really? I see four finesse jump shooters, three of which are horrible defensive rebounders. Three are bad post defenders (AD, Smith, Ryno) and two are too slow footed to play the pick and roll (Ryno and Lopez). They have high PER's, but collectively, are they really a great UNIT? I say no. Removing Lopez and inserting Pekovic is a solid upgrade in a vacuum, but to me it is a massive upgrade with this particular roster. As I said in this piece, if he develops one more post move on the left block, then you have an elite front court that can give you multiple dimensions.

504ever
504ever

Yeah, I expect Aminu to return to the Hornets for cheap but longer term, a' la' Jason Smith. I also think he pairs well with Brewer beacuse their skills are more complimentary than duplicative. I was hoping we can get Brewer for 3 years at a max. of $5/year, but understand we will have to outbid others for him. I don't see Rivers as the answer at back-up PG, but we may have to wait a year to address that situation. Also don't see the Lopez-Pekovic swap as it adds $5M/year at positions (PF/C or bigs) that is the strongest on the team. We need to put that money elsewhere. Nor do I see the Bobcats giving up one of their best (and young) players for a guy they could have signed for nothing this past offseason, Lopez.

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

I just don't think we have the money to improve PG, SF, and C. WIth that in mind, I still have faith that Rivers can develop into at least a very good 6th or 7th man with a chance he can take over at starter in 2 years, so Vasquez and Rivers are your PG's, which is good enough if Porter reaches his ceiling and that front court is dominating the league

cmcmil1
cmcmil1

So you think we're resigned to Vasquez at PG?

biasvasospasm
biasvasospasm

I don't know if Vasquez will be the point guard of the future, but I do know that I'd like him on this team. His teammates seem to love him, his effort is always there and is infectious, and he finds out a way to impact the game most nights. My ideal situation would be to draft Marcus Smart, who I think is one of a couple guys in his draft who can be special, and let Vasquez handle the starting duties while he develops. If Smart organically wins the position in a couple years, great. If he develops into more of a two guard, that's great too, this team needs a contingency for Eric Gordon's health and desire to be in Nola. At the MLE, I'd be happy to have Vasquez either running either the first or second unit. I think he'd have to be on a really stacked team to be a championship starting point guard, but I'm hoping to have a really stacked team in a couple years.

504ever
504ever

Agree! Vasquez needs to be resigned either as a starting PG, or as a very strong back-up PG who can also provide a change of pace (or a spark) when playing with the starters.

marios123
marios123

I totally agree with entrusting Vasquez to be our starting pg. I would also try to sign pekovic and trade lopez+henry+ maybe the pick for a solid guard like jordan crawford or bledsoe. That would give us 3 good guards and depth in case of injuries and would also give time to rivers to develop

mateor
mateor

If we trade a solid player on a great contract (Lopez) and a top-five pick for Jordan Crawford, somebody on pills,

loudlikepat
loudlikepat

In an earlier comment in the win against the hawks, I gushed over Vasquez's performance as of late. I love me some Bledsoe and agree that he is more physically talented than Vasquez. That being said, would you gamble on his heart being in NOLA. He's coming from a team in the limelight. I just don't see him being traded from lob city and coming into the bottom of the west and being all too happy about it. Vasquez already has the work-ethic and right attitude and the pride to represent our city. Monty took a chance on him, and you can tell he takes it as a big responsibility and an honor. He and Monty seem to have a great relationship already, and that is paramount for a starting pg in a young team. Again, not knocking Bledsoe in the least, but Vasquez just makes you want to root for the guy. I agree that his defense is lacking because of his foot speed, but more often than not he had outperformed the opposing pg. Maybe I'm biased, but Vasquez is the epitome of what we all want this team to be about, hard work, heart, and passion.

biasvasospasm
biasvasospasm

Great feature, I appreciate the effort that goes into it. I'm personally less bullish on Jennings, but otherwise largely agree with the ranges. Philosophically, I think shot selection is a skill. So is consistency. I don't see those components in Jennings game. Among of his comparables (Curry, Lawson, etc.), I like him the least by a considerable margin, but because of his free agency situation, I agree that he'll be paid significantly more. I also have a gut feeling, and this probably isn't fair to him, that he isn't a terrific locker room guy and that if things aren't going his way, he might have issues with coaches or teammates. He also has a stated preference for big markets. Obviously if we're winning, that won't be an issue, but I don't want both of my highest paid players and my starting backcourt to have that prima donna gene, and I just have a gut feeling that he has a streak of that to him.

Basketbol
Basketbol

Michael, I think is about time to change the Missing Piece banner picture. Cheers

CoReMeGa
CoReMeGa

I love this feature and wait for it every week! Personally.. I really like Vasquez and think that he has balls when it comes to taking big shots and is a great teammate with his passing. I also have read how much he loves N.O. and that is HUGE when it comes to keeping players in a smaller market. I think keeping the team mostly intact with Davis' improvement and Anderson's spacing, Gordon staying healthy will help Vasquez continue to be great. Add this years pick, while maybe resigning Aminu and getting Brewer to share time.. add a better back-up guard and watch Rivers continue to improve. I think the Pelicans could make the playoffs next year and then make moves to improve once you see more of what you really have with AD and Rivers.

BIGBREED
BIGBREED

Find a way to trade Xavier Henry(expiring contract) to Indy for Gerald Green, who brings energy! Needs coaching on defense but has a lot of potential offensively with 3pt range and slashing. He's a triple-threat player!

mike wr
mike wr

I live in Indianapolis and follow the Pacers. Gerald Green has been a complete bust for the Pacers this season. It would appear, based on a small sample size, that he's the kind of player who can produce decent numbers for a losing team but can't step up his play on a team which is expected to win. And, he has three years left on his contract. Pass on this guy.