After the trade for Omer Asik, Dell Demps had the core of his roster in place, but there were still holes on the wings. As the saying goes, ‘You can never have enough shooting’, and Dell is proving that by adding John Salmons, Darius Miller and Jimmer Fredette to fill out the roster this week, according to reports. While John Salmons struggled a bit last season with other aspects of his game, he was still a terrific shooter, as he nailed 42.6% of his catch-and-shoot 3-pt attempts. Jimmer Fredette was at 50% on catch-and-shoot threes last year, though on a limited sample size. And Miller has always been a good shooter when he is willing to let them go. He hesitates far too often, but last season we saw Miller take a step forward as he was instrumental in wins over the Clippers and Thunder late in the year.
Salmons is the guy most likely to get significant minutes when all these guys are healthy, and the hope is that he thrives in a more limited role. In Sacramento and Toronto, he handled the ball a lot, with pick and rolls and isolations accounting for over 40% of his possessions. He was ineffective in those settings, but was great when he just set his feet and shot off of kick outs. With Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Russ Smith, and Austin Rivers all likely to handle the ball, the hope is that all Monty will ask Salmons to do is hit the spot-up three.
Just over 35% of Salmons two-point baskets were assisted on. It is no coincidence that he shot just 35% from two-point range. Meanwhile, nearly 94% of Salmons three-point makes were assisted on. It is also not a coincidence that he shot 39% from three, including 47% from the corner. If utilized properly, there is no doubt that Salmons can have a positive effect on the offensive end. The bigger question is whether his 35-year-old legs can keep up with the young wings on the other end. Watching his defensive possessions on Synergy, I see an intelligent team defender with length that should be able to push his man into the defensive lockjaw that is Anthony Davis and Omer Asik.
Jimmer Fredette is the biggest variable of the three. A 10th overall pick just three years ago, Fredette is now on his third team and has been an effective scorer, but is a guy coaches need to hide on the other end. He also tends to play with the ball too much on the offensive end, as he still seems to believe he is more of a point guard than a shooting guard. As I noted, he is a terrific spot-up shooter, but over his career, only about 15% of his shots have come on the spot-up while nearly 50% have come out of the pick and roll.
When you sign guys for the minimum, you play the ‘If’ game. If Anthony Morrow could stay healthy, he could be a real find for this team. If Alexis Ajinca can keep from fouling so much…. If Pops Mensah-Bonsu…., etc. Well, it’s no different for Jimmer. IF you can hide him on defense and put one or two shot blockers behind him, and IF you convince him to just catch-and shoot, then you might have a bit of a steal here.
Darius Miller is no different. IF he can play with the defensive intensity that we saw him play with against Durant and IF he has the confidence in his offensive game that he showed against the Clippers, then his experience in this system can give him a chance to jump into the rotation. What Dell Demps has done here is throw 20-25 minutes out there in front of numerous players who are desperate to prove that they belong in this league and told them to go out there and prove that they can get the job done.
They don’t have to do too much. The superstar is here. The playmakers are all over the court. Just catch-and shoot, oh and play some defense. In addition to these three, Luke Babbitt has been working all summer to improve his speed and agility so he can defend the small forward position. It looks like there are some hungry shooters on the Summer League team too, but with guaranteed contracts, these guys will have the first crack at those 20-25 minutes. And what they need to do is clear: Just Catch. And Shoot.