Arron Afflalo is an interesting player. Not great, not spectacular, not uber-athletic, not a jaw-dropper. Yet he’s all the things you want on your team if winning is a major priority. He’s unafraid (after the Carmelo trade, Afflalo assumed the role of 4th quarter shot-taker when games were on the line), dependable, smart, and an above average defender who can cover two positions on the perimeter. As luck should have it, Afflalo’s a restricted free agent right now, and as the stars have preordained, the Washington Wizards can both afford and use him.
Over on Grantland, The Sports Guy ranks the Wizards as the third most sensible option to sign Arron Afflalo in his “Third Day of Christmas” article. Here’s an excerpt of his reasoning (minus the whole Andray Blatche for Jeff Green thing).
Status: $13.3 million under the cap ($34.4 million if the Wizards amnesty Rashard Lewis)
Current 2-guards: Nick Young (restricted free agent), Jordan Crawford, Joe House
Notes: Team up John Wall and Afflalo and you’d really have the makings of something. If I’m running the Wizards, it’s a no-brainer: I’m doing the following three things …
A. Not using my amnesty on Lewis yet. He’s still a serviceable shooter — why pay him the exact same money NOT to be on my team?
B. Offer Afflalo $50 million: $14 million in Year 1, $13 million in Year 2, $12 million in Year 3 and $11 million in Year 4. Anything lower and Denver is probably matching.
A starting lineup of John Wall, Arron Afflalo, Rashard Lewis, JaVale McGee, and Andray Blatche isn’t half bad. It’s actually warrants realistic dreams of an immediate postseason berth.
Tough, defensive-minded wing who is excellent spot-up shooter. Good handle.
• Average athlete. Will attack off dribble but not a good finisher or passer.
• Good defensive fundamentals but average feet. High character guy.
Afflalo really stepped up his offensive game this past season, getting more aggressive attacking off the dribble and drawing fouls while still maintaining his deadly 3-point threat (42.3 percent on the season, 40.8 percent career), As a result, he led all shooting guards in TS% at 62.0.
Afflalo isn’t noted for his finishing skill, but he chose his spots well when he attacked. Most of his drives were to pass, but he also shot 67.1 percent at the rim and a stellar 52.7 percent on shots from 3-15 feet — an area where most players shoot in the high 30s. He’s not a great athlete but he is a good ballhandler for his size, and he showed it by ranking 10th at his position in pure point rating. In spite of all that, Afflalo is still basically a fourth or even fifth option offensively; last season he was 60th out of 66 shooting guards in usage rate.
Afflalo has a reputation as a defensive stopper, but some of that is simply a function of his not being J.R. Smith. While Afflalo is tough and his fundamentals are excellent, he is a B athlete and can’t hang with some of the league’s elite wings. Statistically, his numbers last season were very average — not bad, but nothing to write home about either. Denver gave up more points with him on the floor, opposing shooting guards had a 16.2 PER against him, and Synergy put him in the middle of the pack among shooting guards. Only two shooting guards stole the ball less often.
A lot of scoring requires time holding the ball, and dribbling. That stuff is OK if you’re one of the best scorers in the NBA. But it’s a waste of your teammates’ talents if they can do that better than you. Afflalo wastes very little of his teammates’ talents. When he catches the ball he quickly swings the ball to the open man if there is one, he takes the jumper if he’s open, or if there’s a lane to drive, he thunders to the hoop. Whatever happens is fast and it usually features one of his teammates shooting.
It’s easy to imagine a more skilled player like Jamal Crawford could do more to help a team get buckets. Would your team score better with Crawford or Afflalo on the floor? Crawford surely has far more scoring talent, but Afflalo’s the guy who led the NBA’s best offense in minutes played last season.
That last sentence doesn’t strike me as being a coincidence. Despite just turning 26, it feels like Afflalo has been around the block more than his fair share of times. His mixture of actual youth with what appears to be a veteran presence could do wonders to one of the youngest teams in the league. If Washington chooses to let Nick Young walk, there isn’t a better use of the available money. What’s the consensus? Adding Afflalo would be delightful.