I’ve been a huge fan of all of the transactions Stan Van Gundy has made since he became President of Basketball Operations. One transaction stands out above the rest, obviously, and I led a fun offseason debate about what that next-most-valuable transaction could be. (Shoutout to Madpoopz, Peterveb, and others for pointing out moves I hadn’t thought of, like “Bringing along Jeff Bower” and “Not re-signing Greg Monroe despite considering the emotional toll that would take on DBB.”)
Today, we’re going to look for SVG’s next move; a move I think the roster needs. But to see the next move, we have to look at the roster to see what is and is not there.
What Is There:
PG: Reggie Jackson, Ish Smith, Lorenzo Brown, Ray MacCallum, Michael Gbinje
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock, Darrun Hilliard
SF: Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson
PF: Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson
C: Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, Boban Marjanovic
Looking at that roster, the team could use A: fewer point guards B: another quality wing player.
Issue A will resolve itself in training camp; the current roster has 16 guys, so one of those PG’s will probably be on his way out. (My money is on Lorenzo Brown, who has done everything asked of him and whom I honestly feel bad for.)
Issue B could be resolved by the development of Reggie Bullock, but he only played well for half the year (and was NAILED to the bench for the other half). It’d be great if Reggie is the guy he was after the All-Star Game least season, but we simply don’t know if that’s the case.
Issue B could be resolved by the development of Darrun Hilliard, but the odds are stacked against that occurring. Second-round shooting guards with slow first steps don’t last long in the NBA, no matter how fun they are to watch on the bench.
Issue B is where Stan makes his next trade.
Looking Back to Move Ahead
A great indicator of future behavior is past behavior. Past behavior is not predictive, by any means, but it offers insight.
Reviewing Stan’s moves, we see he takes guys that fit the vision he has: A 1-5 pick-and-roll surrounded by guys who can shoot. The guys he takes also need to be able to defend their position, put the ball on the floor a little bit and make plays off the dribble, and, often, are early enough in their career to get better.
The vast majority of Stan’s moves fit this mold. Jodie Meeks? Great catch-and-shoot numbers off the PNR. Tobias Harris? Great numbers dribble-driving as the attacker in a big man-big man PNR. Jon Leuer? Upper-echelon pick-and-pop big man.
“Why would SVG want Jon Leuer?”— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) July 29, 2016
Minimum 50 possessions, Leuer led the league in eFG% on pick and pop.
Jodie Meeks was originally cast in the backup shooting guard role; multiple injuries to his feet nixed that plan. (Get healthy soon, Jodie). Stan then tried to trade for a backup shooting guard; Marcus Thornton was included in the failed Donatas Motiejunas trade. Backup shooting guard is an acquisition that he’s shown he’s willing to make a deal for.
So let’s look for backup guards through Stan’s eyes.
To See a World in a Grain of Sand
Here’s a BBall Ref query for every guard under the age of 27 who shot over 35 percent from three (which is a good baseline for a spacing threat in SVG’s offense) in 2014 or 2015.
Some of these guys are clearly unavailable, or too pricey to acquire. As much as I would love to trade some future firsts for Klay Thompson, I think Bob Myers hangs up the phone as soon as any of GSW’s starting five comes up. CJ McCollum just signed a massive extension and is not going anywhere. Ditto Alan Crabbe.
But there are guys on this list who fit the SVG mold: Young, undervalued by their current team, with definite room to develop. Here’s who I’d guess SVG is working the phones on:
A 6-8 shooting guard from Georgetown, Thompson has quietly shot 39 percent from three in his three-year career with the Philadelphia 76ers. The 25-year old is a definite catch-and-shoot threat (the vast majority of his 3-pointers have been assisted) who shot a blistering 45 percent on corner threes last year. Questions remain about his defensive ability (career DRT of 111, never averaged > 2 DWS in a season) and his ability to take guys off the dribble (not great within 3-10 feet of the rim), but there’s a 3-D guy in there.
A hybrid wing signed two years ago after a few years in Europe, Bogdanovic has been quite the find for the moribund Nets. Although at 27 he is on the outskirts, age-wise, of an SVG acquisition (and as such maybe has less potential to grow his game), the player he is right now is a great shooter who already has a 40-point game under his belt.
Brooklyn is in full rebuild mode (even without their first-round picks), and Bojan looks poised to be a not-insignificant part of that team. However, if Brooklyn wants to take a harder look at the likes of Sean Kilpatrick, Markel Brown, and newly drafted Caris LeVert this season, Bojan would be a great addition.
Snell is a willing defender who shot 37 and 36 percent from 3 the last two years. His efficiency could be tied to his low FGA, which I’ve read is tied to a lack of aggression. With the addition of Dwyane Wade and Denzel Valentine and the role expansion of Doug McDermott, Snell looks like a man without a role on his current team.
There’s a legitimate 3-and-D player in Snell, and if anyone could bring it out of him, it’d be Stan Van Gundy.
Drafted a single pick ahead of our guy KCP, McLemore is a guy many (myself included) were high on coming out of college. Unfortunately, he was drafted by the Kings, and has spent the last three years trying to escape Sacramento’s density like light from a black hole.
McLemore’s three point percentage has gone up every year, even though he only started 53 games last season while suffering from a variety of various maladies. Like Snell and Chicago, the Kings have added his presumptive replacements this offseason (Arron Afflalo and Garrett Temple).
I believe, as I do for nearly every Sacramento player (#FreeBoogie), a better situation could resuscitate his career.
Longtime DBB’ers might be having deja vu. Knight is a good defender, a good shooter, and a guy who can handle the ball, but who you don’t necessarily want initiating your offense. Knight could definitely function (and flourish) in a reduced role alongside Ish Smith.
The only reason Knight can even be considered is that he’s less talented than Eric Bledsoe and older (and maybe already worse) than Devin Booker. But the big thing that could stop a trade is money; Knight is one year into a five year, $70 million dollar contract (also known as “Evan Turner money”).
There’s no real impetus for Stan to make any moves right now. We’re in the slow part of the offseason, and you probably want to see how guys look in training camp before you make any moves. Maybe Reggie Bullock is that consistent sniper the Pistons’ bench has been looking for. Maybe Darrun Hilliard looks explosive in camp.
If it doesn’t look like either of those guys is going to contribute, or - more frighteningly - if KCP’s extension talks don’t go well, Pistons fans shouldn’t be surprised to see Stan pull off another trade. But current (way-too-early) media talk is that the Pistons are a playoff team with a top-ten starting lineup in the league. Trade or no trade, the Pistons are in a great place to start the 2016-17 season.