• John Aiello

The Top 5 Shooting Guards in Free Agency


wade butler.jpg

*Photo via Getty Images

The shooting guard position is not what it used to be in the NBA. The decline of Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade’s talents seem to symbolize the overall deterioration of the shooting guard position.

Sure James Harden is a talented player and Klay Thompson has a ton of potential, but overall the position has diminished in talent tremendously. One could argue that the position holds the least talent among any position in the league.

With the 2015 NBA Draft over, free agency is right around the corner. Though the two-guard position isn’t what it once was, there are still some solid shooting guards available that could make a significant impact on a team’s future.

1.Jimmy Butler (Restricted Free Agent)

Previous Team: Chicago Bulls

2014-15 Per Game Stats: 20.0 points, 5.8 rebs, 3.3 asts, 46.2 fg %, 37.8 3p %, 11.8 stls, 1.4 tovs

Strengths:

I like Jimmy Butler, a lot. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and he’s consistently improved his offensive game every year. He can get to the bucket, as a third of his shots were at the rim this year and he finishes at a 62.4 percent clip. He compliments that ability to drive with a solid three-point stroke.

Weaknesses:

My only knack on Butler is he doesn’t shoot efficiently from midrange and he’s not a great playmaker. He doesn’t shoot above 50 percent from anywhere besides right at the rim. I’d like to see him establish a better off the dribble pull up jumper to go along with that three-point shot and finishing ability.

What’s Next:

There are rumors that he likes the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Chicago Bulls can match any offer for Butler. With the uncertainty surrounding Derrick Rose, Butler fills the void as the franchise cornerstone. The offer sheets for Butler will likely be a four-year, max deal.

Best Fits: Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Phoenix Suns

2.Dwyane Wade (Player Option)

Previous Team: Miami Heat

2014-15 Per Game Stats: 21.5 points, 4.8 asts, 3.5 rebs, 47 fg %, 28.4 3p %, 1.2 stl, 3.4 tovs

Strengths:

Though Wade has seen his athleticism diminish in recent years, he’s still an elite and efficient scorer. He’s an adept finisher with a more than capable mid-range game and he’s developed into a solid pick and roll playmaker. He’s not the defensive stalwart he once was, but he can still get stops when needed.

Weaknesses:

Wade can’t be relied upon to play every game. He missed 20 games last year, and 28 the year before. He can’t carry a team anymore, which will be difficult for a team to discern whether or not he deserves the max deal he yearns for.

Surprisingly, he’s yet to improve his three-point game, where he’s only shot above 30 percent four times in this 12-year career. Improving his ability to knock down three point shots would allow him to play on the perimeter more and thus save his knees.

What’s Next:

It’s hard to imagine Wade leaving Miami, but it’s a realistic possibility. He wants more dollars, and is justified in that considering he consistently took pay cuts throughout his prime.

It may not be in the Miami Heat’s best interest to bring him back for 20 million a year, but I think he’ll stay put. If Wade opts out I could see the two sides making some sort of compromise to keep him in Miami long-term.

Best Fits: Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat

3.Monta Ellis (Unrestricted Free Agent)

Previous Team: Dallas Mavericks

2014-15 Per Game Stats: 18.9 pts, 4.1 asts, 2.1 rebs, 44.5 fg %, 28.5 3p %, 1.9 stls, 2.5 tovs

Strengths:

Ellis is a flat out scorer. He’s averaged at least 19 points per game every year since the 2006-07 season. Despite playing 10 years in the league he still has the explosiveness to get to the rim, where he finishes at 64.5 percent rate.

Even though he had a down year, Ellis is a reliable playmaker too. His career average of 4.8 assists per game compliments his elite scoring ability well.

Weaknesses:

He’s known for being an extremely moody player. A player’s ability to fit in with the locker room is something I value tremendously and it can be cancerous when a player disrupts the cohesiveness of an organization. If he were a better locker room guy, I’d consider putting him above Wade.

Beyond that, Ellis is a poor three-point shooter. Basically anywhere beyond three feet he can’t shoot. He’s a career 31.4 percent three-point shooter as well as a 48 percent shooter from inside the arc and that number includes the 64.5 percent he shoots at the rim. It’s amazing he’s been able to average 19.3 points per game for his career with such a poor shooting stroke.

What’s Next:

Ellis is leaving Dallas. That’s almost certain. He’s already been linked to a couple teams, like the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat.

I’d be surprised to see him get a long-term deal considering his past history of ruffling feathers, but he is an elite scoring talent with playmaking abilities. With the right system and coaching staff, Ellis would flourish.

Best Fits: Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat

4.Khris Middleton (Restricted Free Agent)

Previous Team: Milwaukee Bucks

2014-15 Per Game Stats: 13.4 pts, 4.4 rebs, 2.3 asts, 46.7 fg %, 40.7 3p %, 1.5 stl, 1.4 tovs

Strengths:

Khris Middleton is another guy I really like from this class. At 23 years old, he’s still young. Though his ability to drive could improve, he showed this year that he could be relied upon to be a capable scorer.

His best weapon is his three point shot, where he shoots a career 40.3 percent. He has a fluid, high stroke too, which makes it tough for opposing defenses to affect his shot.

Weaknesses:

Middleton isn’t an elite athlete. Also, he doesn’t get to the rim that well as only 17 percent of his shots were within 0-3 feet of the basket. That doesn’t surprise me considering smaller, quicker defenders often guard him the oversized Middleton.

To go along with that, Middleton isn’t great when dominating the ball. He doesn’t do much to set up his teammates and his ability to score in isolation leaves more to be desired.

What’s Next:

Reports are that the Milwaukee Bucks are going to match any offer for Middleton. I think it would be smart as the young guard shows promise. I think he’ll remain with Milwaukee for at least three years. Any team in need of shooting could use his services though.

Best Fits: Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New York Knicks

5.Danny Green (Unrestricted Free Agent)

Previous Team: San Antonio Spurs

2014-15 Per Game Stats: 11.7 pts, 4.2 rebs, 2.0 asts, 43.6 fg %, 41.8 3p %, 1.2 stls 1.1 blks, 1.1 tovs

Strengths:

Green was almost left off this list. He can’t do much besides shoot the three and defend, but he does both of those very well.

He’s a career 42 percent three-point shooter, which is really good. And besides Kawhi Leonard, he was the best perimeter defender on the Spurs over the past few years.

Last but not least, Green is a great glue guy for a team and he has championship experience, both extremely valuable for a contender.

Weaknesses:

As I said before, he can’t do much besides defend and shoot the long ball. He’s not the best athlete, he’s not great in isolation, and he doesn’t set his teammates up on offense.

But, Green knows his role and he never strays away from that in games, which should never be undervalued.

What’s Next:

It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up. He’s been linked to the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons already, but he could honestly end up anywhere. Teams where Green can play off the ball and doesn’t need to be an isolation scorer would benefit him the most. He’ll most likely sign a long-term deal, regardless of where that is.

Best Fits: Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks

Honorable Mentions-And Why They Didn’t Make the Top Five

6.Wes Matthews-Achilles injury; not sure how he’ll be when he returns

7.Lou Williams- Not the athlete he once was and a questionnable defender

8.Jamal Crawford- Despite being a great scorer, not efficient and really bad defensively

9.Arron Afflalo- Disappointing 2014-15 season

10.Manu Ginobili- Just really old

References: http://hoopshype.com/2015/06/11/nba-free-agency-2015-the-top-shooting-guards-available-this-offseason/

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/crawfja01.html

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