• Nick Boylan

NBA Ring Chasers - Bargain Prices for Veteran Production: Guards

Updated: Nov 17

With salary caps leveled out due to the COVID pandemic, contending teams are being forced to look at savvy veteran minimum signings now more than ever. Thankfully for those looking to dethrone the Los Angeles Lakers at the NBA’s summit, there are a number of experienced players in this year’s free agency class who have plenty of gas in the tank.


In this series, we’ll examine a selection of NBA veterans looking for their first (or next) ring. We’ll break them down in the following ways:


  • Resume

  • Skillset

  • Ideal role

  • Suitable teams

  • Salary - Veteran Minimum, Tax-Payer Mid Level Exception, Mid-Level Exception


Today, we’ll be taking a look at which guards could help NBA franchises looking to take a step closer to championship glory.


Kyle Korver - 39 years old, 6’7"


Aaron Gash/Associated Press


Resume:

  • 17 years experience (145 playoff games)

  • NBA All-Star (2015)

  • 4x NBA 3P% leader (2010, 2014, 2015, 2017)

  • NBA record for highest three-point shooting percentage in a regular season (2009-10)

Skillset: Shooting, shooting, and more shooting. One of the best pure shooters in NBA history, Kyle Korver’s made a living out of punishing teams from the perimeter, with a 42.9% career mark from three-point range.


That shot hasn’t gone away. Korver posted 41.8% from deep last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 6.7 points per game in 16.6 minutes per contest. Nearing 40 years of age, it’s unclear whether Korver will retire or go around again, but if he chooses to pursue one more year of pursuing a ring, he will have suitors.


Ideal Role: Rotation wing


Suitable Teams: 76ers, Bucks, Warriors, Heat, Lakers, Nuggets


Cost: Vet. Minimum


Rajon Rondo - 34 years old, 6’1"


Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports


Resume:

  • 14 years experience (121 playoff games)

  • 4x NBA All-Star (2010-2013)

  • 2x NBA Champion (2008, 2020)

  • 2011-12 All-NBA

  • 2x All-Defensive First Team (2010-2011)

  • 2x All-Defensive Second Team (2009, 2012)

  • All-Rookie Second Team (2007)

  • 3x NBA assists leader (2012-2013, 2016)

  • NBA steals leader (2010)

Skillset: Rondo brings a wealth of basketball IQ and playmaking skills, as we saw with a brilliant postseason run with the Lakers. Time and time again, “Playoff Rondo” reared his head, with timely baskets, smart passes and momentum-altering steals at the other end.


Averaging 8.9 points, 6.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per night in the playoffs, Rondo’s well-rounded game was back in a major way - potentially boosting his next contract.


Add in the fact the 14 year-veteran can now make a team pay from leaving him open on the perimeter, draining 40 percent of his threes this postseason, and the newly crowned two-time NBA champion has a skillset any contender would want to have coming off their bench.


Ideal Role: Backup point guard


Suitable Teams: Clippers, Lakers, 76ers, Celtics


Cost: Vet. Minimum - Taxpayer MLE


Shabazz Napier - 29 years old, 6’0"


Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports


Resume:

  • 6 years experience (9 playoff games)

Skillset: Shabazz Napier’s been a bit of an NBA journeyman, with a two-season stint in Portland his longest stay. That said, Napier’s got a well-rounded game for a backup point guard, especially on the offensive end.


Napier’s points per game average has climbed every year since his rookie season in 2014, hitting 10.3 points per contest last year with Minnesota and Washington. A career 34.5 percent shooter from downtown, Napier flashed some playmaking prowess to the tune of 5.2 assists per game with Washington. He’d make a capable backup option to run the offense in spurts, and get a basket.


Ideal Role: Backup/third-string point guard


Suitable Teams: Celtics, 76ers, Clippers, Trail Blazers


Cost: Vet. Minimum


Dion Waiters - 28 years old, 6’3"


USA TODAY Sports


Resume:

  • 8 years experience (23 playoff games)

  • All-Rookie First Team (2013)

  • NBA Champion (2020)

Skillset: Dion Waiters’ is very much a “shoot first, ask questions later” guard, and has no issue getting a bucket. A brief run with the Lakers during the play-in games in the Bubble saw Waiters elevating his free agency stock. Averages of 11.4 points and 2.3 assists in seven games looked good for Waiters, with a 42.5 percent shooting mark from the field. (He did shoot an icy 23.3 percent from deep.)


Playing time dropped for Waiters in the playoffs - he saw minimal action before being removed entirely from the rotation after Game 2 of the Conference Semifinals. Still, a contender could take a flyer on Waiters for his microwave offense.


Ideal Role: Rotation guard


Suitable Teams: 76ers, Lakers, Mavericks, Rockets, Trail Blazers


Cost: Vet. Minimum


Jeff Teague - 32 years old, 6’3"


Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports


Resume:

  • 11 years experience (71 playoff games)

  • NBA All-Star (2015)

Skillset: After splitting last season between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Atlanta Hawks, Jeff Teague has fully transitioned into backup point guard status. He would strongly prefer to compete for a ring.


Teague’s a rock-solid playmaker with a fairly reliable stroke from deep - career 35.6 percent from three - and could add to a young team wanting to take the next step. He could serve as a starter or provide playmaking off the bench. Averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 assists last year, Teague’s a solid veteran option with playmaking skills that could fit on a variety of contending rosters.


Ideal Role: Spot-starter and second-unit leader


Suitable Teams: Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, Warriors, 76ers, Hawks


Cost: Vet. Minimum - Taxpayer MLE


DJ Augustin - 32 years old, 5’11"


Reinhold Matay - USA TODAY Sports


Resume:

  • 12 years experience (38 playoff games)

  • All-Rookie Second Team (2009)

Skillset: Another veteran point guard who can shoot, handle the ball and take care of the offense from the bench, DJ Augustin will be a highly sought after option when free agency begins. After starting 81 games in the 2018-19 season, Augustin started just 13 last season and is primed to assume the role of running the offense for his next team’s second unit.


A career 37.9 percent shooter from deep, Augustin posted 10.5 points and 4.6 assists per game last season. He hasn’t averaged less than a double-digit scoring season since 2016-17. Five times he scored 20 points or more last year - Augustin can fill it up when needed while providing veteran nous and great ball-handling skills.


Ideal Role: Backup point guard


Suitable Teams: Celtics, 76ers, Rockets, Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Mavericks


Cost: Vet. Minimum - Taxpayer MLE


Trey Burke - 27 years old, 6’0"


Ashley Landis


Resume:

  • 7 years experience (9 playoff games)

  • All-Rookie First Team (2014)

Skillset: Trey Burke had a rollercoaster 2019-20. After Barely playing for the 76ers, Burke was waived and signed with the Mavericks. With Dallas, he was a bit of a revelation. During the Orlando seeding games, he dropped 12 points per contest on 43.2 percent from deep. In the postseason, he shot 61.4 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three.


Burke’s skills firmly lie on the offensive side of the ball, where his brief stint in Dallas showed he can still be a valuable bench scorer. Burke also averaged 3.8 assists a night with the Mavs.


At 6’0, Burke isn’t a huge difference-maker on the defensive end, but his microwave scoring ability is too valuable to not see him on a contending team next season.


Ideal Role: Bench combo guard


Suitable Teams: Mavericks, 76ers, Celtics, Rockets, Clippers


Cost: Vet. Minimum




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