The Free Agent Stock Market, Pt. 1

Mike McGinnis

As the first round of the playoffs winds down, whose value has gone up, and whose value has gone down?

The playoffs are a time for proof. A time for title competitors to prove they have the wherewithal to stick it out for the long haul, a time for long shots to prove their right to be included with everyone else, and a time for stars to prove why they're the best in the world. It's also the time for future free agents to prove why they're worth interest and money, which makes the end of the first round a great time to see how this offseason's best free agent prospects are increasing or decreasing in value as their team makes a playoff run.

Here's how this works: I went through next offseason's most notable free agents of interest for The Mavs (so mostly Point Guards, Hybrid Guards, and Centers), considered the ones who were actually in the playoffs, and decided whether their value has gone UP or DOWN from the regular season as a result of their playoff play. The idea is that if the value goes UP, the player has performed really well, but will therefore pull more money and probably be harder for the Mavs to get. Conversely, if the value has gone DOWN, they have probably not performed the way we would ideally want, but they'll be cheaper and easier to sneak onto the team in the offseason.

This part is based off of series that were already completed before 5/3/13 (Spurs-Lakers, Bucks-Heat, Warriors-Nuggets) plus all Rockets players worth consideration, since I'm more well read on the Rockets and don't need to do as much research on their players before making calls.

So without further ado:

Brandon Jennings

DOWN. ish. Down-ish. Jennings has been a hot topic for a while now, representing more or less exactly the kind of player that the Mavericks don't need. A highly inefficient volume scorer, he'd basically bring the same problems to the fore regarding decision making that made Collison and Mike James such headaches, except he'd make more shots. While I'm all for making more shots, I'm not all for a guy who's only got an assist rate in the mid twenties while also barely shooting 40 percent from the field, when what the Mavs really need is someone who can see the floor well and take advantage of the four or five other weapons already on the roster.

The thing about Jenning's postseason value is that it really isn't going to change that many opinions. He performed even less efficiently than usual, shooting an abysmal 35.1% eFG and 40% TS%, with a sky high usage rate (27%) coupled with a very low assist rate (20%). That said, Jennings fans will see his 19.1 PPG and call that good.

So really, his playoff performance may have lowered his value somewhat, but most people will see what they've already been seeing: a wildly inefficient score-first iso player that the Mavs don't need and shouldn't want, or a highly valuable scorer.

Hopefully the front office sees the former, even if he comes cheap as a result of his abysmal first round shooting.

(Side note: I'm actually not against Jennings on a one year contract as a place holder til the real 2014 prospects come, presuming he comes as cheap as I think he might. That said, I totally understand disagreeing on that point).

Jarrett Jack

UP. Jack was (in my opinion) the Mavs' real best hope of getting a really good point guard who could do all the things the Mavs would want a point guard to do. Pass well, shoot well on the right shots, and defend respectably.

Jack has met those requirements -- though his shot choice leaves something to be desired -- as well as anyone could hope for, plus some, in these playoffs. Really, he was the most integral part of the Warrior's upset other than Steph or Gallo's ACL. The numbers are great too. 62.7% TS%, 107 points per 100 possessions, 101 points allowed per 100, 28% assist rate.

The problem is: if Jack wasn't already totally inaccessible to the Mavs, he is now. Mark Jackson loves Jack, and the front office knows how valuable he is. Now, after semi-leading them to an unexpected second round challenge? They'll do anything to hold on. If there's any encouraging sign, it's that Jack turned down the extension offer he was given, but really, I think that just shows how badly the Warriors want to hold on that they're offering the extension now.

Don't hold your breath on this one guys.

Dwight Howard

HA. HAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Look guys, I know he got ejected from game 4, I know he might be unsettled, I know, I know. But even if he's not interested in re-upping as a Laker, both the Hawks and Rockets have WAY more to offer Dwight in terms of compensation and motivation. This one just isn't happening.

Tiago Splitter

I HAVE NO IDEA. Splitter had a very strange series. He totally flopped roles: despite usually being a score-first Center who's slowly learning and developing his defense, he became a pseudo-defensive-savant, but a complete offensive dud.

This gives me serious pause, because his defense is entirely reliant on Tim Duncan. With Duncan on the floor with him (4/5s of the time he's on the court) the Spurs defend brilliantly. Without Duncan, not so much. So take Duncan away, and we're watching the collapse of Tiago.

I'm not sure how the league is going to view Splitter's performance and how they'll decide his value, but I definitely know that I'd be really nervous making a move in that direction now. Though, to be fair, the paint in that series was packed by Gasol and Dwight, so it's probably really just an outlier.

Patrick Beverly

UP. Beverly has been astoundingly good for the last half of the season, both defensively and offensively, but I don't think anyone outside of Houston really paid much attention until this playoff series. He definitely played up, even if he was already a great player, and everyone seems to be taking at least some notice. Unbelievably hard working, a vicious, voracious defender, and putting up generally good numbers to boot.

Potential problem: his assist ratio (14%) is a lot lower than the Mavs really need, but that's probably a function of the Rockets low assist numbers as a whole and him sharing ball control duties with Lin, Harden, and Parsons.

I'll be really interested to see what offseason bids for Beverly look like.

(Edit: I've since been informed that Beverly has a team option on his minimum contract for the next two years that the Rockets are guaranteed to take advantage of. So, ogle if you want, but the only chance the Mavs have of getting him would be in a trade).

Gary Neal

UP. Neal only played about 19 minutes a game this series, but he was great with what he had. He played exactly the role he needed to play, and put up some nice efficiency numbers with the time he got. Points per possession/points allowed per possession aren't great measures here, since the Spurs blitzed LA so badly, but he put up respectable, if not great, shooting numbers (47% TS%).

As a role player, he'll probably be looking more valuable from here on out. I wouldn't be surprised to see some multi-team interest in him this summer either, which may decrease the odds of the Mavs sneaking him onto the roster.

Chris "Birdman" Andersen

UP. Holy. Cow. I know that the Heat's data was skewed given how badly they beat the Bucks, but the numbers he put up were ridiculous. His playoff PER is hanging around 40. His Offensive Rebounding Rate is higher, by himself, THAN THE RATE OF EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE PLAYOFFS.

So...yeah, he's looking pretty good right now. The Heat know all this though, so I don't expect him to really even hit the market. But if he does, that's a pickup that needs to be made.

Greg Smith

DOWN. Smith had a very quietly efficient year, posting a Brandan Wright-esque shooting percentage and a great defensive rating. A fabulous young bench player for a team that has a knack for finding those.

Unfortunately (or maybe not, for the Mavs) he was a total no-show these playoffs. Any time Omer Asik wasn't on the floor, the Rockets totally collapsed. It got to the point where having Smith on the floor for any longer than 5 minutes at a time was untenable. That's gonna look bad to most offices.

Really, the Mavs aren't on the hunt for another developing, small, efficient-scoring Center. Wright is already a better one than Smith. But Smith is better than his playoff record might indicate, and if the Mavs wanna sign and trade Wright for other assets, Smith might make a great budget replacement.

Dejuan Blair

DOWN. The Spurs totally blitzed the Lakers, but with little playing time from their young big man, and he's beginning to look dispensable. I still think Blair has the potential to be a great defensive stopper off of the bench, and this might be a great chance to get him on the cheap while he's undervalued.

Samuel Dalembert

DOWN. Same goes for Dalembert as with Blair: he got absolutely no playing time in the series and looks like an afterthought. He's aging, and that's a problem, but now might be a great time to snag a devalued asset.

Jodie Meeks

DOWN. Anyone associated with the train wreck of a Lakers team went down in value after they got swept. Period. He already wasn't worth much, but I'd be surprised if anyone thinks he's worth anything now.

Timofey Mozgov

DOWN. Not only did he not get any playing time, but the Nuggets got upset by the Warriors. His regular season numbers were already not encouraging, and the total lack in usefulness and any organizational confidence in him really hurts whatever positive image he might have had.

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