Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 Free Agents - SG's

Yo, now we move on to the top Shooting Guards in the 2011 Free Agent pool. Although the Point Guard position is probably the weakest position this summer's free agency class has to offer, the 2-guard position might be the strongest; a mixture of young up and coming scoring threats, and proven vets that can still get the job done. Like I said before, this FA class doesn't contain the Franchise Building Block type players, but it's full of missing pieces, teams that are missing that one thing to get them over the hump and into the caliber of the elite, will find that with these Free Agents. Now, I give you...the top 5 FA Shooting Guards...enjoy.

1. Nick Young(17 ppg.) - One of the few positives for the Washington Wizards last season was the emergence of Nick Young...finally. Buried beneath the Wizards bench for his first 3 years in the league all you knew about Young was that he was an exciting offensive player with "potential." First of all...Nick Young has crazy game. With a 6'7 frame, dude can score with the best of them; smooth mid-range game, knocks down the trey ball, has exceptional athleticism and has a sick handle on top of that; the total package offensively. Now, the knock on Young is his defense, but to tell you the truth, he's actually a pretty good on the ball defender because of his foot quickness, he's a much better defender than he gets credit for. We saw Young explode after the Gilbert Arenas trade that allowed him to become a starter for the Wizards, and it didn't take long for him to become the teams number 1 scoring option on the floor. Post-trade, Young averaged 21 ppg. including a career-high 43 points on the Kings, and two games against the Miami Heat where he gave D-Wade and Bron Bron buckets all night long; a 30 point performance, and a 38 point performance. Young is a restricted Free Agent, but he said himself he won't be giving the Wizards a "hometown discount." You add that with the emergence of fellow Shooting Guard Jordan Crawford, and you get an organization that might be chill with letting Young walk away. Young could stay in Washington and continue to play alongside John Wall and be amongst the leagues elite backcourts, or walk away and get payed, and probably win more. Young is perfect for teams who are missing a player who can create their own offensively; the top destinations for Young are Indiana, Washington (still), Chicago, New Orleans, and Dallas. Young could instantly make Chicago a title contender, and playing under Coach Thibodeau would make him solid defensively. But, Young has been spending a lot of time this summer kickin' it with the Pacers' Danny Granger and Paul George in Cali playing in the Drew League together, and I think Indiana is a perfect fit for Young as we saw in the playoffs they lack a closer and someone who can create their own shot, no disrespect to Granger. Young will get plenty of offers, we'll see what happens.

2. J.R. Smith(12 ppg.) - J.R. Smith might be the most intriguing player on this list, but I think George Karl's painting Smith as a head case will scare some teams away. Now, don't get me wrong, Smith may very well deserve his reputation as a reckless gunner with an itchy trigger finger from behind the arc, as well as an undisciplined gift from the basketball Gods. However, I think Coach Karl blew situations out of proportion as he consistently threw Smith under the bus to the media night in and night out, no player deserves that. Smith is a freak athlete with a straight burner from 3 point range when he's on, providing instant fire power for the Nuggets off the bench for the last 5 seasons. His athletic ability also gives him the ground to be a solid, and pesky on the ball defender when he wants to be. Smith started his career off with the Hornets, where I think he could have been the perfect backcourt mate for Chris Paul had the organization given him time to develop before trading him away. Smith has always butted heads with Coach George Karl since his first day in Denver, and over the years you always thought it would get better, but it just never did, and this years first round playoff series against the OKC Thunder showed us that we were probably witnessing J.R.'s last days in a Nuggets jersey. Inconsistent playing time, and a statement by George Karl to the media during the series led to Smith publicly announcing his final days in Denver, and it's sad because the Nuggets team is the perfect fit for Smith. Now, you can say what you want about Smith's past and attitude, but you can't deny homeboy's talent, Smith has game, and now that he's out of Denver, the Nuggets fan favorite is ready to be a star in this league. J.R. is an unrestricted Free Agent, and will definitely be a hot commodity in the market this summer. The top destinations for Smith are; Chicago, New Orleans, New Jersey, New York, and Boston. Teams like New Orleans, and Chicago would turn Smith into an elite Shooting Guard by adding to his defensive ability with coaches like Monty Williams, and Tom Thibodeau. I say Jersey because Smith is from there, but I don't know about him playing for Avery Johnson. And if he doesn't mind coming off the bench for another season or two, Boston would be a perfect fit as he would be the ideal successor to Ray Allen. I think Chicago is a dream fit for Smith though, he could start there and build something special with D.Rose, seems like a no-brainer for the Bulls.

3. Jamal Crawford(14 ppg. 3 apg.) - Crawford is one of the best scorers in the league and has been since his early days with the Bulls. The master of the 4-point play, he's one of only 4 players in NBA History that have had 50 point games with 3 different teams, Crawford did it with the Bulls, Knicks, and Warriors; the company he's in? Wilt Chamberlain, Bernard King, and Moses Malone. In my opinion, dude has the sickest handle in the league, especially when it comes to creating space for a shot, Crawford will chop you up. Atlanta was a great fit for Crawford but they just refused to offer the man an extension, dumping the max into Joe Johnson and chasing Al Horford. In my opinion, I think they should have gave Crawford more money, that way they wouldn't have had to give out a max deal that they did for Johnson, let J.J. walk, and start Crawford; put themselves in a position to sign someone else as a backup for Crawford for way less money. But they didn't. Crawford proved he still has a lot in his tank at 30 years old, being the best player on the Hawks throughout the playoffs, and carrying them through that first round upset against the Magic. Crawford is still a starter in the league, and he's a vet, so teams know full well what they're getting from him...buckets, he's an underrated play-maker as well. Crawford is an unrestricted Free Agent, free to test the market as he pleases, his top destinations are; Dallas, New Orleans, New Jersey, New York, and Atlanta(still). A team like Dallas would benefit from a guy like Crawford as they may lose some pieces to Free Agency as DeShawn Stevenson, JJ Barea, and Caron Butler are all Free Agents. However, Crawford may be too expensive for Dallas as re-signing Tyson Chandler is their main focus in Free Agency. Crawford may end up in Jersey, or back in New York if he doesn't ask for too much money.

4. Jason Richardson(16 ppg. 4 rpg.) - Richardson is another solid veteran, like Crawford, can score the basketball and shoot it from outside. Richardson is also a reliable perimeter defender. Richardson struggled in Orlando, but before the trade he was averaging nearly 20 ppg. with the Suns. J-Rich still got it, and at 30 years young a lot of teams lacking a scoring option on the perimeter would love to add his veteran presence on the court and in the locker room. With Gil's ridiculous contract in Orlando, I think they hope he can get back to his old self so they can start him at the two, and bring Redick off the bench. If you add that with Orlando frantically attempting to keep Dwight Howard in a Magic jersey, I don't think that leaves the room, or money for Jason Richardson to return, I could be wrong though. But Orlando isn't a good fit for J-Rich's style of play, the Magic just dump the ball into Dwight and let him be a monster, and if a double comes, he kicks it out to open shooters; J-Rich wants to get out and run, and knock down that trey in transition, not sit in the corner waiting for a kick out in a half court set. J-Rich is solid on the defensive end as well, he will get a lot of attention as well in the Free Agent market. An unrestricted Free Agent, the top destinations for J-Rich are; Dallas, New Orleans, New Jersey, Denver, and Chicago. Denver has a few important guys that are Free Agents; J.R. Smith, Arron Afflalo, and Wilson Chandler to be specific. Most likely, Smith is gone, and Chandler is up in the air, if they lose any more than Smith, Denver is a great fit for J-Rich. Also a shot at playing with great Point Guards such as CP3, D-Will, D.Rose, and the veteran savvy J-Kidd are intriguing as well. We'll see what happens if Orlando doesn't bring him back.

5. Marcus Thornton(13 ppg.) - Now, I know this might surprise a lot of people having him in my top 5, over Arron Afflalo, and aging vets Vince Carter and T-Mac, but Thornton is real. First off, throw out the season points per game average because after Thornton became a King, he averaged 21 ppg. I did a write up on Thornton earlier in the season where I addressed New Orleans' inability to cope with young developing shooting guards before trading them, only to watch them flourish on different teams. That's exactly what happened with Thornton. Dude gets buckets, has a complete offensive game and he's a sneaky athlete that can finish at the rim. I really thought he had a real shot at being CP3's long term back-court mate before the trade, but he started the season of slow, and that was that...right New Orleans? When Thornton got to Sac-Town, it was a completely different story, homeboy averaged 21 ppg. and dropped a career-high 42 on the Warriors. Thornton is an unrestricted Free Agent, and although I think he likes it in Sac-Town as it is a great fit for him, I don't think he'll end up back there. First of all, I feel like the Tyreke Evans "Point Guard Experiment" is finally over, and being the future of that Franchise, the Kings are going to move him to his more natural position and let him score like he's capable of doing from the wing. And second, with Tyreke on the wing, the Kings have the 7th pick in the draft where I believe they'll solidify their back-court of the future with U-Conn standout and National Champion Kemba Walker, leaving Thornton out of that picture. However, Marcus Thornton will get love from the market, his top destinations are; Indiana, Chicago, New Jersey, Cleveland, and Minnesota. 2 Seasons ago, when Chris Paul went down with injury, it was the rookie tandem of Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton that got the job done for the Hornets, I can see them playing together again in Indiana. Thornton would also make the Bulls a title contender, but if it's money he's after, and only money, Minnesota, and Cleveland will give him that, and he'll be able to put up as many shots as he wants.

*Other Notable Free Agent SG's - Arron Afflalo, Shannon Brown, Vince Carter, Leandro Barbosa, T-Mac, DaQuan Cook, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Michael Redd,and DeShawn Stevenson,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Mama there goes that man"

The Golden State Warriors have hired Mark Jackson as their Head Coach, Jackson has spent the last few seasons as the best announcer of all time (besides Marv Albert). Jackson brought some flavor to the announcer tables letting slick, and iconic quotes spill into the microphone; "hand down man down," and "mama there goes that man" are my two personal favorites. This is a dope move for the Warriors, as a kid Mark Jackson was the PG on my favorite team (The Pacers)and he defines the position. Mark Jackson was so crafty man, the type of guy to booty bump you all the way down the court while yelling out a play to get Reggie a open trey. He wasn't a stranger to a freaky no look pass every once in awhile either. A true floor general in every sense of the phrase, and is finally going from Coach on the floor to Coach on the bench. I think Jackson can turn the Warriors around because he was always a players player, a guy people would love to play with, and I think that will translate into him being a players coach. He's real, and he knows the game. I wonder if he'll be sitting on the bench saying "hand down man down" under his breath when Steph Curry knocks down a tripple in somebody's face; well...we'll see what happens, but until then..."Mama There Goes That Man..."

Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 Free Agents - PG's

Straight up, this might be the weakest position in this Summer's Free Agent pool, but there are still some good players here. This is the appetizer for the main coarse of 2012 when the two best PG's in the league; CP3 and D-Will will be "taking their talents" elsewhere. But anyway, here's my top 5 Free Agent PG's...enjoy.

1. Aaron Brooks(11 ppg. 4 apg.) - Aaron Brooks, when given the proper minutes is one of the best scoring point guards in the league; he's got water bug quickness, is one of the fastest players in the league with the ball in his hands, and on top of that Brooks is a deadly 3 point shooter. This past season, Brooks was coming off of a career year in 2009-2010 where he averaged 20 ppg. and was the leagues most lethal shooter from deep as his 209 three pointers made was good for number 1 in the league. Brooks was also named the leagues Most Improved Player. This past season was a different story for Brooks, as injuries kept him out of the Rockets line-up, and the emergence of fellow PG Kyle Lowry made it hard for Brooks to regain his starting spot when he returned from injury. Brooks was traded to the Phoenix Suns mid-season where he struggled to get consistent minutes behind Steve Nash. Brooks is a Restricted Free Agent, which means the Suns will have the chance to match any offer Brooks gets, and Phoenix has to decide if they will rebuild with Brooks as their man, or keep Nash around. Brooks was made for an uptempo style of play, a team like New York where he could play for Coach D'antoni would be ideal, but is unlikely unless the team deals Billups. Brooks is capable of being a starter in the league, and the homie is looking to get back to his 2009-2010 form. The top destinations for Brooks are; Phoenix(if they rebuild), Sacramento, LA(Lakers), and Portland. I can see Brooks becoming a starter in Portland if they don't resign Miller, and he could definitely help out an aging back-court like the Lakers' have.

2. Rodney Stuckey(16 ppg. 5 apg.) - Stuckey is a strong PG that loves to attack the basket. The Pistons are going through a lot; they haven't won in a long time, this past season was filled with losing and coaching turmoil, and the team has recently been sold to a new owner. But even in the midst of all the negativity, the play of Stuckey has been one of the few pleasant things Detroit fans can dwell on, as he finished the season with two 29 point games in a row. Stuckey is a Restricted Free Agent and I don't really see any teams throwing cake at him attempting to lure him away from Detroit. Even though he is more of a SG than a PG, right now, he's probably the best player on the Pistons roster, along with rising wing Austin Daye. I don't see the Pistons letting him walk away. The top destinations for Rodney Stuckey are; Detroit and maybe Sacramento if they don't resign Marcus Thornton; that would give Tyreke Evans a chance to play the 2 while Stuckey ran the 1, unlikely though, I don't see Stuckey anywhere else but Detroit.

3. J.J. Barea(8 ppg. 3 apg.) - Numbers aren't important here. Barea is one of the leagues quickest and fastest PG's and is a straight game changer off the bench as he brings that energy. Solid role player, and currently playing for a ring with his Dallas Mavericks. Barea has been the perfect compliment to Jason Kidd off the bench as he brings all the elements Kidd lacks to the floor when he enters the game. When Kidd is out there, you have a brilliant basketball mind, clutch set shooter, and the definition of a Floor General, but you also have aging legs, that's where Barea comes in. Barea is a perfect fit for the Dallas Mavericks as is, a lot of teams would love to have a solid backup PG like Barea on their team, and at times where Kidd has been hurt in the past, he has proved he can step in and start when needed, his quickness and speed make him very hard to guard. Although Barea has been solid for the Mavericks, he is a Unrestricted Free Agent, he's free to test the waters, and with Beaubois still in the fold with the Mavericks, they may let Barea walk, especially if Kidd doesn't call it quits after this season. The top destinations for Barea are; Dallas, Miami, Boston, LA, and San Antonio (if George Hill goes back to the 2). I don't see Barea inking with a team that isn't a contender.

4. Andre Miller(15 ppg. 6 apg.) - Miller has a team option with the Blazers, and with the team seriously lacking a PG for the future, it is most likely they pick up his option unless they make a run at a guy like Aaron Brooks, which is what I think they should do. Miller's backup this past season was Patty Mills, who is an unrestricted free agent with a lot of upside. Although Miller is aging he is still a solid floor general, the OG knows the game. I think the most likely scenario is that Miller resigns with Portland, but if they decide to go with Mills, and bring in another young PG, Miller's veteran leadership is something contending teams would love to have in their locker rooms. If he signs anywhere else other than Portland, his starting days might be over, but Miller could help out teams like the Lakers, Miami, and Boston.

5. Mario Chalmers (7 ppg. 2 apg.) - Chalmers has had his ups and downs in Miami, but I still think he's a solid player. He can defend and knock down the open three point shot. I think that playing with three great players like Bron, Wade, and Bosh; people thought he would emerge as the second coming of Rajon Rondo, but it obviously hasn't been the case, he's just not that type of player. But he is capable of making plays and pestering the opposing teams PG all the way up the floor. Chalmers is an Unrestricted Free Agent, as well as Mike Bibby. There isn't a ton of talent in the market for PG's right now so Miami may have to resign both of them, and we may see Chalmers become the starter once again in Miami. If the homie doesn't sign back with Miami, he would make a solid backup for a lot of teams. His top destinations are; Miami, Portland, Sacramento, and Indiana.

*Other Notable Free Agent PG's - Mike Bibby, T.J. Ford, Patty Mills, and Sebastian Telfair

..."I'm taking my talents to..."

Yo, first of all, I know everybody is glued to the TV when the Finals are on, so you know what's going on, that's why I'm not covering that. So that brings us to the next big thing on the menu...this summer's Free Agent class. Although this summers sea of free agents doesn't tote the Sharks of last years frenzy, there are still some big fish swimming around. Last year was the biggest free agent class we've ever seen in the game, a class where players you could start your franchise with were available; Bron, Wade, Rudy Gay, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh. We all let the dream scenarios play out in our imaginations, picturing Bron, or Wade with our favorite teams, only to watch the rat race end with the words "I'm taking my talents to South Beach,"...spawning a new cult of Miami Heat Fans, and Haters alike. Now, while the upcoming Free Agent class doesn't contain players you build your team around; it is full of players you complete your team with. This Free Agent Class is loaded with those missing pieces that could put a team over the top. A team like Chicago, who fell victim to that gaping hole at the 2-Guard position in the Conference Finals will be able to fill that void via Free Agency. I'm going to rank the top Free Agents at each position, we start with PG's in the next post...see you there homie.