Make or Miss Podcast #25: Rating the Early Free Agents
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Writings Around the Web
At FanSided, I looked at a better use of cap space than pursuing overpriced signings: trading for players under contract as a way to cheaply add talent
Teams with money available should look to use their cap space in other ways to acquire talent at more reasonable prices. They can accomplish this by going after players already under contract. With salary flexibility not going out of style any time soon, getting out from under an uncomfortable multi-year contract will have value to many teams. Even only a year into a newly signed deals, teams may be experiencing severe buyer’s remorse over players acquired last offseason. A savvy team might be able to acquire these “distressed” assets for very little other than allowing the present employers to get off the hook for the remaining years and dollars owed.
Consider the Detroit Pistons. In the 2013 offseason, they splashed out big money onJosh Smith and Brandon Jennings. To put it mildly, this did not work well. Smith was always miscast as a small forward alongside Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, while Jennings own shortcomings in terms of shot selection and defensive effort contributed to the Pistons’ disastrous 2013/14 campaign. Now with Stan Van Gundy installed to lead a new regime, Monroe up for a big extension right now and a massive contract for Drummond on the horizon, Detroit might well like to hit the reset button on the Smith or Jennings deals.
As the disappointment of Tuesday’s defeat ebbs away, we are left with all these conflicting emotions. Out in the round of 16. Again. Yet, we escaped the so-called “group of death” in which the U.S. was plausibly the least likely of the four teams to emerge going in. We displayed some genuine quality at times, yet still relied on that particularly American recipe of hard work, perseverance and world-class goalkeeping. We were much the second best side against Belgium, but the winning goal was right there.
So, how to balance the appreciation of the progress made with the knowledge of what is still to be done?
On one hand, Jurgen Klinsmann’s promise of a new, proactive and attacking USMNT was largely unfulfilled. While the lightning quick opening goal against Ghana in some ways dictated the defensive posture against in that match, there was no such excuse against Germany or the Belgians. The team’s inability to really possess the ball meant facing wave after wave of attacking pressure. Only against Portugal did the U.S. have long periods of fluent possession.
Certainly, performing well in the Summer League is better than performing poorly – especially for a rookie expected to contribute this year, strong Summer League play should be seen as a neccesary but not sufficient condition for a certain degree of “NBA readiness.” But in general, the best advice is to simply ignore the box score and stats and instead look for specific aspects of play that will translate to the NBA. Does a big man move his feet well in the pick-and-roll? Does a wing attack a defender closing out effectively? Can a point guard get consistent penetration and make reasonable decisions with the ball? It’s just as important to look for deficiencies in these sorts of areas as well.
At Hardwood Paroxysm Mothership, I looked at Charlotte's gamble on offering a big contract to Gordon Hayward
The easiest explanation for Charlotte’s largess is they don’t believe Hayward is a 30% three-point shooter. Per NBA.com He shot 26.8% on corner 3$, last in the league among the 111 players who attempted at least 20 in each corner. Prior to last season he shot 41.7% from the corners. According to MySynergySports, he shot 31.4% on spot-up 3s last season. In his first three seasons he shot 42.6% on these mostly catch-and-shoot attempts. All told, Hayward’s shooting wasn’t down just because he was taking tougher shots, he shot significantly worse on his easier shots as well. Simply reverting to career norms on spot up attempts and Hayward’s True Shooting would jump to a robust .556.
- The Clippers signing Jordan Famar and following the departure of Darren Collison;
- The Spurs re-upping both Boris Diaw and Patrick Mills on solid value deals;
- The Mavericks getting a steal of a deal on re-signing Dirk Nowitzki (with the savings put to good use already in pursuing Chandler Parsons from the Rockets)
Over at FancyStats, I looked at the trends leading to the seemingly massive premium being placed on outside shooting in free agency this summer:
So why the run on shooting?
Partially, the NBA is a copycat league. The Spurs just won a title in part by combining ball-movement and multiple floor spacers to pick apart “more athletic” superteams in Oklahoma City and Miami. It’s not hard to sell higher ups on trying to duplicate proven success, so everyone wants shooters.
But this is broader than just San Antonio’s success. The NBA has been moving toward shooting more three-pointers for some time.