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John Schuhmann

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Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce are two potential free agents that deserve the ball down the stretch.
Kevin C. Cox/NBAE via Getty Images

Free agents by the numbers: Go-to guys and sharp shooters


Posted Jun 27 2010 10:28AM

The Lakers are the champs and John Wall is the No. 1 pick. Now is when the real fun begins.

Free agency starts on July 1, and with it the promise of an eventful summer. When it comes to this illustrious free-agent class, it's clear who's at the top of the list. But once you get past the stars, a deeper look at the numbers can help you find more value. A guy that has been productive in limited minutes might just need the right opportunity.

Over four days, we'll break down the top free agents. We won't do it by position, but by role, because there's a big difference in what point guards Carlos Arroyo and Nate Robinson bring to the table.

Earlier this week we broke down the alpha males and floor generals. Yesterday we looked at the big men. Today, we look at the players you look to when you need a bucket. We start with the guys who will have the ball in their hands in critical possessions, and we also list the guys they'll be looking for when the double-team comes.

A couple of notes: Players are ranked by efficiency per 40 minutes (EP40), with a minimum of 1,000 minutes played in the 2009-10 season.

Efficiency = Pts. + Reb. + Ast. + Stl. + Blk. -- TO -- missed FG -- missed FT

All ages are as of July 1.

GO-TO GUYS

On Friday, we looked at the Alpha Male category. The guys below have been that for their respective teams over the years, but they're a step below LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for one reason or another. Still, these are guys that deserve to have the ball in their hands down the stretch.

1. Dirk Nowitzki, 32 years old, Dallas Mavericks
25.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, .481 FG%, .421 3P%, 26.8 EP40

It can be argued that Nowitzki should have been included in the Alpha Male category on Friday, because he can certainly carry a team offensively. But he just isn't the defensive force that James and Wade are. So instead, he stands at the top of this class of next-level stars.

Nowitzki has averaged 79 games a season over his career (not including his lockout-shortened rookie year), and his numbers have been very consistent over the last six seasons. His 121 attempts from 3-point range were the fewest (by far) he's taken since his rookie year, but he made them at the highest rate of his career.

2. Paul Pierce, 32 years old, Boston Celtics
18.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, .472 FG%, .414 3P%, 20.8 EP40

Pierce's raw numbers took a dip once Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston, but with help, he's been scoring much more efficiently than when he was carrying the offensive load for the Celtics.

Is he showing signs of age? Maybe, maybe not. Pierce missed 11 games for a variety of injuries, but all of his shooting numbers (FG%, 3P% and FT%) were career highs this season.

3. Joe Johnson, 29 years old, Atlanta Hawks
21.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.9 APG, .458 FG%, .369 3P%, 19.5 EP40

Johnson's numbers were barely affected by the addition of Jamal Crawford to the Hawks this season. He's been very consistent in his five years in Atlanta. But if you look at his final season in Phoenix, you might see what he can do if someone else is the primary ball-handler. He shot 48 percent from 3-point range (second in the league) that year.

4. John Salmons, 30 years old, Milwaukee Bucks
15.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, .441 FG%, .382 3P%, 16.1 EP40

The Bucks went 22-8 after acquiring Salmons at the end of the season. A year earlier, he helped the Bulls finish 16-11 and reach the playoffs after they acquired him from Sacramento. In both cases, he provided scoring punch for good defensive teams that needed a lift offensively.

Salmons has become more of a perimeter threat in recent years. In his first six seasons in the league, Salmons attempted 1.3 threes per game and made 33 percent of them. Over the last two seasons, he attempted 3.8 threes per game and made 40 percent of them.

WILDCARD

Tracy McGrady, 31 years old, New York Knicks
8.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.3 APG, .387 FG%, .250 3P%, 15.6 EP40

In the bargain bin this summer is a guy who averaged more than 24 points per game for seven straight seasons, including the third highest scoring average (32.1 in 2002-03) of the last 10 years. And he's about the same age (31) as the four guys above him on this list.

Does McGrady have anything left? Amidst his 24 starts in New York at the end of the season were five DNPs because of soreness and pain. But by the time training camp opens, it will have been more than a year since his last surgery. If he comes with the right attitude, he could help a team that needs a playmaker.

SHOOTERS

Every team in the NBA needs shooting. You can never have too much. The challenge is finding shooters who aren't just one-dimensional. If they don't hurt you elsewhere on the floor, you can actually afford to play them significant minutes.

Most of the guys on the list below are specialists, best suited to come off the bench. But there should be demand for all of them, because every superstar, go-to guy or post presence needs shooters around him.

1. Channing Frye, 27 years old, Phoenix Suns
11.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, .451 FG%, .439 3P%, 20.1 EP40

Frye's career is a fascinating study. He made 29 percent of his 70 threes through his first four seasons. Then he took 392 threes with the Suns last season and made 44 percent of them.

Frye obviously gives you more rebounds than most of the shooters below, but not as many as you would want out of a guy that's 6-11. So if you have him on your frontline, you need to pair him with a big man that does his work inside.

2. Mike Miller, 30 years old, Washington Wizards
10.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.9 APG, .501 FG%, .480 3P%, 18.6 EP40

Miller is the most versatile player on this list, and he has seemed determined to prove that in his last two seasons. After attempting 14.2 shots per 40 minutes in his first eight seasons (ranking third in the league with 498 3-point attempts in 2006-07), he's attempted just 9.4 in his last two.

Miller hasn't proven to be very durable though. After playing 82 games his rookie season, he's averaged just 68 games in his nine seasons since. The 28 games he missed this past season with shoulder and calf injuries were a career high.

3. Matt Bonner, 30 years old, San Antonio Spurs
7.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, .446 FG%, .390 3P%, 18.4 EP40

Bonner is a specialist, with 62 percent of his shots having come from 3-point range. Like Frye, he is a big man that needs the right complement on the frontline. He has that in San Antonio, and the Spurs were a better offensive team with Bonner on the floor than they were with him on the bench. But not particularly quick, strong or athletic, Bonner is a liability defensively.

4. Kyle Korver, 29 years old, Utah Jazz
7.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, .493 FG%, .536 3P%, 17.6 EP40

Korver was the only qualifying player to shoot 50 percent from 3-point range this past season. It was easily the best shooting season of his career, but a much smaller percentage of his shots (39 percent) were taken from beyond the arc than in his first six years in the league (54 percent).

Korver doesn't give you much else statistically, but he's not as much of a defensive liability as you might think. The Jazz were a better defensive team with him on the floor than they were with him on the bench.

5. Anthony Morrow, 24 years old, Golden State Warriors (Restricted)
13.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, .468 FG%, .456 3P%, 17.3 EP40

Though he has been playing for the Warriors, Morrow's a relatively disciplined shooter. Just 44 percent of his shots came from 3-point range, and only 12 times in 69 games did he miss more than three threes.

6. Ray Allen, 34 years old, Boston Celtics
16.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, .477 FG%, .363 3P%, 17.0 EP40

Allen will likely be the most sought-after free agent of this group. Only Reggie Miller has made more threes in NBA history, and with another full season, Allen will pass Miller to become the all-time leader. But the only time in his 14-year career that he's shot worse then 36.3 percent from 3-point range was in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.

Allen was hot and cold in the postseason, but his experience can't be matched among the other shooters on the market. And it helps to know that he's been a part of the league's best defense over the last three years.

7. J.J. Redick, 26 years old, Orlando Magic (Restricted)
9.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, .439 FG%, .405 3P%, 16.1 EP40

Redick is Allen-light, a deadly shooter with a high basketball IQ and the experience of playing on a great defensive team. This past season was Redick's best. He earned crunch-time minutes in a lot of big games and may be ready for a starting role. But because he's restricted, it will be tough for a team to pry him away from Orlando at a reasonable price.

8. Quentin Richardson, 30 years old, Miami Heat
8.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, .451 FG%, .439 3P%, 16.0 EP40

An incredible 64 percent of Richardson's shots came from 3-point range this past season, but he's not a one-dimensional player. He was part of a strong defensive unit in Miami and gives you good rebounding numbers for a small forward. Last summer, Richardson was traded four times, but he was more than just an expiring contract for the Heat.

9. Keyon Dooling, 30 years old, New Jersey Nets
6.9 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, .398 FG%, .376 3P%, 13.1 EP40

Technically, Dooling isn't a free agent yet. But all indications are that the Nets will exercise a buyout in his contract, cutting him loose by July 1. Dooling's production was down after undergoing hip surgery last summer, but he has shot 40 percent from 3-point range in his two seasons in New Jersey. And he's the only real point guard on this list.

10. Roger Mason, 29 years old, San Antonio Spurs
6.3 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, .389 FG%, .333 3P%, 12.5 EP40

After shooting 41 percent from 3-point range in his previous two seasons, Mason fell back to the level that he was shooting in his first three years in the league.

11. Eddie House, 32 years old, New York Knicks
7.0 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, .380 FG%, .348 3P%, 12.5 EP40

House can heat up quick, but this was his worst shooting season in the last six years.

12. Rasual Butler, 31 years old, Los Angeles Clippers
11.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, .409 FG%, .336 3P%, 12.2 EP40

Butler is a little versatile than most of the guys on this list, but essentially, he's a shooter who's not that great a shooter. He ranked 104th in 3-point percentage this season.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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