Which under-the-radar shooting guards can help the New York Knicks in free agency?
The New York Knicks have every intention to contend in 2019. They spent all of 2018 clearing cap space for this offseason. With room for two max free agents, the Knicks will go out and get two max free agents. Regardless of who those two will be, they will need complimentary pieces around them to help them contend immediately.
On Tuesday, we examined some point guards the Knicks can sign for the low. Now, it is a look at shooting guards that can help the Knicks host the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Jeremy Lamb will always be seen as a bit of a disappointment. He was a centerpiece of the trade that sent James Harden to the Thunder so expectations have been tremendously high. Just because he never panned out into a star for the Thunder and Hornets doesn’t mean he can’t be a great bench piece for the Knicks.
Lamb has steadily improved in each of the last 4 seasons and in 2019 posted a career high in points per game (15.3) and rebounds (5.5). Lamb also developed great maturity despite only being 26 during the season because although he was averaging career highs he was moved to the bench to lead the second unit.
Before the switch, the Hornet’s bench had a defensive rating 98.3, but the Lamb infused bench experienced a jump to 126.7. Plus, who can ignore his half-court buzzer beater to defeat the Raptors?
Lamb can be relied on for scoring and rebounding but also efficiency. Lamb ended the 2018-19 campaign with a 17.8 Player Efficiency Rating, ranking ahead of Donovan Mitchell, CJ McCollum, Klay Thompson and Khris Middleton.
Lamb will fly under the radar in this star-studded free agency, but if the Knicks can sign him at the right price, perhaps their mid-level exception, Lamb could be an essential part of a championship contending rotation.
Wayne Ellington knows how to shoot a basketball. In the 2017-18, Ellington ranked 6th in three-pointers made with 227. Those above him were James Harden, Paul George, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson. This season the stats tell a different story, but don’t always believe what you see. Ellington only converted 138 threes this season, a far drop off from the prior season, but Ellington spent a majority of the season wasting away on the Heat’s bench until he was finally waived and picked up by the Pistons.
In 28 games for the Motor City, he made 81 threes while averaging 12 points. Take his numbers from Detroit and spread them across an entire 82 game season and Ellington would’ve connected on 237 triples which would’ve ranked eighth for all players.
Regardless of where Ellington was during his 12 season career, he has always shot the three ball efficiently. Only twice has he shot below 37 percent from three, including two seasons where he shot over 40 percent. Ellington is a reliable option off the bench as only once in his career he averaged less than 18 minutes per game.
Ellington won’t be a hot commodity on the market but the Knicks should covet the three-point marksmen for their bench, especially since he can be signed for the league minimum or a small part of the mid-level exception.
When it comes to Troy Daniels you know exactly what you’re paying for. He grades out as a slightly above average defender who doesn’t rebound the ball well, averaging just over one rebound a game and you can’t rely on him as a distributor as he doesn’t even average 1 assist per game, but you can rely on him to stretch the floor.
For Daniels’ career, he is a 40 percent shooter from deep, out of all active players that rank 16th overall right behind CJ McCollum. Daniels has shown his entire career he can provide a scoring punch with a career average of seven points per game, but when given the opportunity he can vastly exceed expectations. Against the Raptors in 2017 Daniels dropped 32 points on 7-10 shooting from deep. That type of efficiency and scoring from deep should have the Knicks drooling.
His shooting isn’t the only thing to love about Daniels. He has a history of performing in the playoffs as most fans know him from his buzzer-beater three-pointer to defeat the TrailBlazers in overtime of game 3 of the first round in 2014. In that game he dropped a playoff career high of 17 points as well.
Entering the 2019 season Daniels will still only be 28 years old and doesn’t have a history with injuries or any off the court incidents. Daniels started his career playing off of players minimum contracts and his most recent deal was a three-year, $10 million dollar pact, meaning Daniels won’t cost the Knicks much more than the veteran’s minimum.
Lance Stephenson has had a career filled with ups and downs and perhaps one meme too many, but his days of being an effective bench option are not gone. His best season, where he scored 13.8 points per game, 4.6 assists per game and 7.2 rebounds per game in 2013-2014 with the Pacers, high lights the type of effect Stephenson can still have.
Stephenson’s season in Los Angeles can’t be ignored, either. The Lakers for lack of better words were a very dysfunctional team. The team was awkwardly built around Lebron James by an inexperienced and uninterested Magic Johnson and coached by Luke Walton, who already had one foot out the door. Did Lance help the situation, no, but you can’t blame him for their dumpster fire of a season.
Stephenson jumped at the opportunity to play with LeBron James in Los Angeles, and he could be expected to jump at the opportunity to play for his hometown Knicks. Stephenson born and raised in Brooklyn was a legend on the street courts before taking his talents to college.
Stephenson won’t require more than a veterans minimum or a small portion of cap space to be signed and at 28 years old his athleticism and health won’t be on an expected decline.
With the right coach who values his player-coach relationship, like David Fizdale, could help keep Stephenson in check all season. When checked in and focused a team can rely on Stephenson to score 10 points per game, grab a couple of rebounds, dish a few assists and be a fun teammate for the rest of the team to be around.