Free Agency: The Best Wings in Town

Posted on July 8, 2011 by


Hey all,

As you know James Brocato has been working on Free Agency to help figure out the best players to go after to improve your team. He looked over Point Guards (or lack there of), and in today’s episode he’ll be going over Guards and Forwards (Wings) with a little help from Devin and myself (Dre, for those who are wondering). Let’s start out looking over who’s available.

The Talent Pool

2011 Free Agents - Guards and Forwards.*Avg. Wins Produced, Avg. WP48, and Value are based on a weighted average of those statistics for the last three seasons, with the most recent season being worth the most. Value is calculated by multiplying average wins produced by $1.58 million

To help out, here’s how who the restricted free agents are tied to:

Arron Afflalo (Denver), Marcus Thornton (Sacramento), Wilson Chandler (Denver), Reggie Williams (Golden State), Ben Uzoh (New Jersey), Othyus Jeffers (Washington), Derrick Brown (New York), Daequan Cook (Oklahoma), Marco Belinelli (New Orleans), Sonny Weems (Toronto), Gary Forbes (Denver), Larry Owens (Sacramento), Nick Young (Washington).

Rather than simply — and objectively — listing in order the Free Agents each team should go after, we decided it would be more fun if a few of us just gave a quick take on the three Free Agents we’d pursue and three we’d avoid like the plague. Here’s our takes.

James’ Targets

James picks his free agents based on if they look like movie villains.

Who I’d pursue:
  • Andrei Kirilenko. Perhaps the best overall player in the group, he’s getting older, but he’s not that old. Productive veteran role players are very important in the league, and Kirilenko could be a valuable asset to any team trying to compete for a championship – think Shawn Marion.
  • Arron Afflalo. He’s just entered his prime and he’s been improving steadily. He has all the tools to be a good shooting guard, which is important since the 2 is such a weak position in the NBA. Assuming he can be bought at a decent rate, he’s a good choice for any team looking to improve.
  • Marcus Thornton. Super young, not even in his prime yet, and already playing above average. His high points per game average last season at Sacramento might make him expensive, but if the price isn’t super high, it’s probably worth it.
Who I’d avoid:
  • Jamal Crawford. His high scoring numbers attract naïve general managers, but the truth is he’s never really been productive. Now that he’s getting older, we can expect his production to drop even further below average.
  • DeShawn Stevenson. He was a starter on a championship team, and that might increase his market value. However, he’s very unproductive (and has been so throughout his career) so he should be avoided.
  • One dimensional three-shooters (Vujacic, Stojakovic, Kapono, Butler, Mason, Cook). While these guys can be enticing, they’re unproductive since they don’t create possessions and they’re defensive liabilities.

Devin’s Targets

I'm back!

Who I’d pursue:

  • Tracy McGrady had a good season last year and, after several seasons of injuries, looks to be back.
  • Mike Dunleavy Jr. had a nice comeback season as well, and I don’t think there will be that much demand for him. Even given his injury concerns, I’d sign him to a two or three year deal.
  • Reggie Williams is young, productive, and will probably come relatively cheap. The only problem is that he’s a Restricted Free Agent and the Warriors might decide that they want to keep him (after all, who knows what those crazy Warriors will do?).
Who I’d avoid:
  • Michael Redd is done, but some team will offer him a decent sized contract just to confirm this.
  • Likewise for Josh Howard.
  • Marco Belinelli hasn’t amounted to anything after four years, and I don’t expect him to in the next four either. Avoid him like Andrea Bargnani avoids the boards.

Dre’s Targets

Hey it's worked before.

Who I’d pursue:

  • Arron Afflalo. He’s young and has been playing great and showing improvement. I’m psyched the Nuggets made sure to give him the qualifying offer. As a scorer that can shoot from three there’s a risk he may end up overvalued. Still for anything close to $10 million or less, it’s worth going for.
  • J.R. Smith. It’s hard to believe J.R. is only 26. He’s got massive skill and talent and is usually a good player. His bad attitude problems keep his market value lower. I think his time in Denver is done but he’ll definitely help out some team (Chicago perhaps?)
  • Marcus Thornton. As a second round pick his value will always be lower than it should. His value really is in areas other than scoring, where he is marginal. He’s really just a player in need of more minutes and can definitely help a team out.
Who I’d avoid:
  • Caron Butler. In his heyday he was a productive player. He’s older and battled through injury and worse still has a decent market value. He’ll be overpriced for whoever picks him up. Think Ron Artest for an example of similar thinking recently.
  • Tayshaun Prince. Another player that used to be much more productive but has steadily declined. Many teams will view his championship pedigree and defense and overpay. There’s much cheaper and better options out there.
  • Jamal Crawford. Over thirty and overrated are a bad combo. His salary is still high and some team will overpay for his services. I’d consider him the typical Wages of Wins Network landmine. He looks good to some teams but will suck their cash and leave them with very few wins.

Summing Up

While this season’s crop of wings doesn’t come close to last year’s, which included Wade and LeBron, there are still many productive players to be had. On the flip side there are more than a few deceptively bad players that can certainly hurt your team. If your team is in search of Wing there is both hope and dismay depending on your front office. Of course, until the lockout ends most of this will just be speculation.

-James, Devin and Dre