Part 2 of 14
Very few players in the NBA improved as much as Arron Afflalo over the previous two seasons and mostly due to his superior work ethic.
Afflalo has proven that he is more than a gym rat and student of the game, very few players shoot as efficiently as the 26-year-old shooting guard. He received four votes for Most Improved Player (three second-place and one third) and was one of the few players in the NBA that shot close to 50 percent from the field (.498), 40 percent from behind the arc (.423) and 80 percent from the charity stripe (.847).
He also showed an ability to hit clutch shots, hitting a game-winner against the Dallas Mavericks towards the end of the Carmelo Anthony-era. Afflalo has always been known for his defense and he proved that by forcing his former college teammate Russell Westbrook into 15-of-45 shooting in the final two games of the playoff series.
At 25, Afflalo still has some growth and can be an integral part of the Nuggets core as he gets better. The Nuggets have the advantage of keeping him since he is a restricted free agent and they will probably match any offer for him, but in the slim chance they don’t there are a few options. But none that can match what Afflalo does:
- Caron Butler, Dallas (FA) is a more offensive and older version of Afflalo. He has a great midrange game and gambles more than Afflalo on defense, but is still solid. However, he also just turned 31 and suffered a season-ending knee injury.
- Courtney Lee, Houston (trade), Lee is the same age and players very similar to Afflalo. He is better offensively and not as good defensively. However, Lee has playoff experience and had the tough task of defending Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals during his rookie year.
- Anthony Parker, Cleveland (FA), Parker is Afflalo but only 10 years older. At 35, Parker is too slow to defend most perimeter players and to drive to the basket. But Parker still can hit the 3-pointer consistently (.379).
- Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia (trade), Iggy is one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA and also one of the most versatile player. He is a modern day Scottie Pippen, accept not as good of a shooter. He also has a very expensive salary ($36 million/3 years), but his heart and energy would fit in well with George Karl.