With the Lakers handing out opportunities to don the purple and gold to former L.A. residents, one name that will certainly come up is Arron Afflalo.
Afflalo recently was waived by the Kings after spending just one season in Sacramento. Like everyone in Sacramento, Afflalo struggled, averaging just 8.4 points per game on 44 percent field goal shooting. He did connect on 41.1 percent of three-pointers on 151 attempts in his 61 games, one of the few bright spots.
The negatives come in thick and heavy, though. Afflalo had a PER of just 8.3 an assist percentage of just 7.4 percent, and a three-point rate of only 36 percent. Afflalo’s game has long been predicated on mid-range jumpers as 42 percent of his shots came from the three-point line to 10 feet.
In an era of three-pointers, Afflalo’s game has hardly adjusted. Afflalo took 227 mid-range jumpers last season compared to just 151 three-pointers. In the mid-range, Afflalo connected on 44.1 percent of his shots.
Meanwhile, Afflalo’s 151 three-pointers are 236 fewer than Brook Lopez’ number of attempts and fewer than even Luol Deng from last season. To be fair, last season was a bit of an anomaly even for Afflalo. The 2.5 threes attempted per game represent the lowest average attempts per game since his sophomore season.
Even with all the negatives, there are some positives to go with Afflalo. Any stats from the season spent with the Kings should have an asterisk attached. The season prior, he played in New York which was essentially Sacramento-lite.
His last season playing with a real team was in 2014-15 where he spent the last 25 games of the regular season in Portland where he shot 40 percent from three and had a PER of 10.7 on the season.
While his game isn’t modernized, it is still effective in its own way. He resorts to mid-range baskets too often, but he’s not terrible at it. Only Brandon Ingram shot better than Afflalo from the mid-range on the Lakers last season. The Lakers need scoring guards with experience and Afflalo fills that role, even if not being the first option.
The Lakers have a dire need for a guard/forward combo player and Afflalo would fill that role. He would come at a very cheap price on a prove-it type of deal.
We also saw what Luke Walton was able to do with Nick Young last season, a Nick Young that was written off and all but stretched from the roster entering training camp. While Afflalo isn’t quite the sharpshooter Young is, he’s not quite as erratic or inconsistent.
If you’re looking for someone Lonzo Ball can hit on curls off pin-down screens, Afflalo can be your guy and he can be your guy at a very cheap rate. The hope would be that Afflalo would revitalize himself not only in Walton’s offense playing alongside Ball but also through a return to Los Angeles; Afflalo was born at UCLA Medical Center, went to high school in Compton and college at UCLA.
With such a young roster, Afflalo’s veteran presence wouldn’t be the worst thing. He’s the type of player that has veteran tricks he can hand off to Jordan Clarkson, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball.
All that being said, Afflalo likely shouldn’t be option number one in free agency. But if he comes at a cheap price (read: veteran minimum), there are worse options to be had. Best case scenario, he signs on the vet min, revives his career and the Lakers can flip him. More realistic scenario is he’s a cheap stopgap in a Laker year and can make the team only slightly more miserable to watch.