2019 NBA Free Agency Role Players: Guards

NBA free agency
2019 NBA Free Agency Targets: Guards (Credit: Dillon Hiser/Lakers Outsiders)

Heading into June 30th the Lakers are going to have their work cut out for them in order to fill their roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis with productive players. With around $32 million in cap space, they could spend that on a max free agent or they could split it up to use on role players, they have several avenues they can take.

The roster is currently devoid of any guards so they will likely prioritize this position once the 2019 NBA free agency hits. Here are a few options that the purple and gold can take a look at.

Seth Curry

Seth Curry brings two areas of need for the Lakers backcourt next season. He is a lights out shooter and was much-improved out of the pick & roll last season. In his last three seasons played, Curry has shot 42.5 percent or better from distance and ranked in the 98th (!!!) percentile as a spot up shooter while registering 1.323 points per possession in that category.

In the pick & roll, Curry was much more of a scorer than he was a distributor, but he was excellent in that capacity. Over 141 possessions, he attempted 122 field goals while ranking in the 92nd percentile as a pick & roll ball handler.

Curry would give the Lakers a lethal shooter from the outside and a player that defenses always have to account for on the floor. Head coach Frank Vogel would be able to draw up plays that could use Curry’s shooting or gravity to the Lakers advantage. After a strong season in Portland, it’s unknown what the 28-year old’s market will look like but if the Laker could sign him without overpaying, they’d have a great value addition to complement their stars.

written by Dillon Hiser

George Hill
May 25, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) shoots a layup for a basket against the Toronto Raptors in the second half of game six of the Eastern Conference final at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

George Hill

Frank Vogel is back coaching and can use some familiar faces to build culture with the Lakers. George Hill would be a hell of start. Hill’s been somewhat of a journeyman after his Indiana Pacers career, and is likely looking for a permanent home. The Lakers have the chance to offer him that.
Hill is coming off of a resurgent playoffs with the Milwaukee Bucks averaging 11.5 points per game while shooting 53.4 percent from the field. He’d ideally slide in Frank Vogel’s scheme of building a defense starting strong on the outside first and then inside with Anthony Davis. Vogel and Hill spent three years together with the Indiana Pacers, much of the time as an Eastern Conference contender. That time and the start of his career give him 11 years of playoff experience including one year alongside LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hill’s combination of defensive versatility and experience would be much-needed in the Lakers quest for a championship.
written by Chris Walton

TJ McConnell

The market for point guards is pretty thin for NBA free agency this summer, so T.J. Mcconnell could be a nice guy to grab if you can get him on the cheap. McConnell is a solid backup point guard option who will play hard with solid defense but give you very little on the other end. He averaged 6.4 points and 3.4 assists a season ago for the 51 win 76ers. A big issue for the Lakers is McConnell does not space the floor, as he only attempted 0.6 threes per game last season converting at 33.3 percent.

McConnells offensive struggles really showed up in the playoffs, as his minutes dropped from 19.3 to 8.3 while collecting three DNP’s. A big positive though is his durability, as he has played at least 76 games in each of his four years. With the injury struggles of the past years, having guys that can stay healthy is crucial during the regular season. Filling out the roster the Lakers will need guards and energy guys on their bench and McConnell could be a nice addition at the veteran’s minimum.

written by Raj Chipalu

J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith is an option the Lakers can consider, but should not necessarily be a top option. The 15 year NBA veteran has had a knack for scoring before. At this time, those days are certainly behind him. Smith averaged a career low in points (6.7 ppg), in the most recent season to go along with his worst 3 pt% (.308) since his rookie season. Granted these stats are partly due to Smith only playing 11 games this past season. His scoring has decreased more and more as the seasons went on. His 3pt % was .400 during the 15-16 season and went as high as .375 during the 17-18 season. Granted, it was a small sample size for last year there’s no way to be sure if he’ll be reliable for next season.

In total, he averaged 10.3 points in 255 games with the Cavaliers.

Shooting is a need that the Lakers must address. With that gone, what about defense? Smith has not been much of a stalwart in that regard either. He did post a 104.9 defensive rating (once again, small sample size) but did have defensive ratings of 113 and 110 the two prior years.

Unless this is one of the last players that are in your rotation, it seems like Smith’s best years are behind him. He would be a cheap option to round out the bench and given there is a chance the Lakers have a chance to sign more stars, Smith should not be a priority. J.R. is still under contract with the Cavaliers but he is expected to hit the NBA free agency market once he is traded or waived.

written by Kendrew Abueg

Alex Caruso

Alex Caruso would be a welcome addition back for the Lakers. He was signed on a two-way deal and should be brought back on a minimum contract. When finally inserted into the rotation with 18 games remaining, he averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.9 rebounds. The Lakers will be in dire need of shooting, and although it was a small sample he shot 47.7 percent from three on 2.9 attempts.

Caruso also has good size at the point guard position and showed himself to be an able defender. He averaged 1.3 steals in that final stretch of games holding his own against some elite point guards. Caruso was also fourth in plus-minus and the difference between him and Rajon Rondo was pretty clear.

He could easily be the third point guard on the team and have a shot at competing for the backup spot. It would also be nice to have some sort of continuity, seeing as LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma would be the only other two returning from last year.

written by Raj Chipalu



Author: Dillon Hiser


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