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NBA Free Agency 2013: Utah Jazz Combo Guard Randy Foye: a three year review

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Free Agency is upon us. Well, it will be in a few hours. And we have a lot of free agents on the team:

  • Bigs: Al Jefferson (review), Paul Millsap (review)
  • Wings: DeMarre Carroll (review),
  • Guards: Mo Williams (review), Randy Foye (review), Jamaal Tinsley (review), and Earl Watson (review)

The Jazz also have non-guaranteed contracts with Kevin Murphy and Jerel McNeal to sort out, and we have yet to sign all the players we have draft rights for (Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, Raul Neto, Ante Tomic, Shan Foster, and Peter Fehse). All that said the team has some money to spend if they want; however, conventional wisdom states that they'll be going lean and hungry this year. Or something to that effect. Here's the great table by Peter again just so you see what we're working with:


So all of our unrestricted free agents have put in their time here and deserve their own posts. Let's take a look at Randy Foye.



Who is Randy Foye?

Foye was drafted #7 in the 2006 NBA Draft. Out of all the reviews so far he's the first former Lottery pick, and aside from Big Al, he is the only guy picked in the Top 15 of a draft that's an unrestricted free agent for the Jazz right now. He came into the league as a point guard, but progressively was forced onto rosters where he has to play off-the-ball more and more. Going from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Washington Wizards, the D.C. area team was an even bigger mess and played Foye at the small forward at times. Foye found a home as a full time shooting guard off the bench as a three point specialist on a stacked Los Angeles Clippers team. He played with them for two seasons honing his touch and becoming a startlingly effective spot up shooter, and then join the Jazz on a one year good faith contract.

He rarely shows any point guard tendencies anymore, and is almost fully a shooting guard now, which is funny when you played mostly PG in college and your first few years in the NBA. He's 29 going on 30 (will turn 30 before training camp starts), and has 7 years of NBA experience. He has almost exclusively played for bad teams.



What has he done for the Jazz?

Raaaaaaaandy played one year for the Jazz, and played in all 82 games. This was the first time he has played all 82 games since his rookie year. He finished last season at the starting shooting guard and was a huge part of our three point attack last year. I'm not too short sighted to forget all of our three point shooting woes over the last 2 decades and think we can thrive without Randy. Let's give Randy some props here as his hot shooting was the primary reason why our three point shooting numbers finally started to approach league average last year (in terms of over the last 2 decades of data, not just one seasons worth -- in case you feel my sample sizes are too small : ), ha ha).

He set the record for most three pointers made in a season, in New Orleans / Utah Jazz history at 178 makes. He also had a remarkable upswing in his 3pt% last season, as a career 37.7% shooter shot 41.0%. His three point shooting over the years has gone 36.8% --> 41.2% (less than 150 attempts) --> 36.0% --> 34.6% -->32.7% -->38.6% --> 41.0% (over 400 attempts).




What was his last contract like?

Foye played on a 1 year contract worth $2,500,000 dollars. The $2.5 million tag was his second lowest value year of his career, only his first year rookie year contract was worth less. He took a paycut to play here, or alternatively, he took a paycut to go here and get lots of minutes with the hopes for a longer term contract the next season. That's why I call it a good faith contract. His last two years (with LAC) had him earning $4.25 m a season. I reckon he'd like to get back up to the $4-5 level again asap. He had an amazing shooting year in a contract year. I hope it works out for him.



What do the stats say?

Randy is kind of who he is right now, at his peak. He's going to be turning 30 and 59% of all his shots last year were from three. He rarely drives anymore or does any pick and roll stuff -- which when he did do it, it was successful and I couldn't stop tweeting about how great it worked. I'd love to see him return to more of that, but the numbers show him becoming more and more of a specialist.

Over his last three seasons he has played in 210 total regular season games (averaging 70.0 games a season), and playing 26.1 mpg. So that's more than half the game, and he's not really going to budge much lower from that if he stays on our team. He averaged 10.5 ppg (39.5 fg%, 38.4 3pt%, 85.7 ft%), 2.3 apg, 1.8 rpg, and 0.8 spg. His A:TO ratio was 1.85, so he's no longer a PG it seems. He attempted 9.1 shots a game, and 4.7 of them were threes. He gets to the line 1.8 times a game.

But just last year (82 games, started 72, played 27.4 mpg) he got more opportunities to help the team. He did so by further specializing as a shooter. He averaged 10.8 ppg (38.7 fg%, 41.0 3pt%, 81.9 ft%) -- so he shot way better from three, but even his FT shooting went down. He should have taken them from three, I think! He averaged fewer apg, rpg, about the same spg, and his A:TO ratio went down as well.

And he shot fewer times per game, but more of his shots per game were from three. He's tending more and more to being a guy who no longer has a complete game. If this is the gameplan, to reduce every player to just one thing, then it's a bad gameplan. (Earl, your best skill is passing, so you can only pass! Randy, you are our best three point shooter, so we will only go to you for threes!)



Benefit to the team going forward?

Conventional wisdom states that a guy who shoots an amazing percentage above his career mark in a contract year will have a season that's more akin to his career average the next year. If we bring him back I hope that's not the case. Randy Foye shooting 60% of his shots as threes works out when he's shooting 41% from deep. If he returns to that 36/37% level then his utility on the floor lowers significantly. But I'm not going to argue about what percentage point of something he may or may not regress towards.

I understand he may regress. But I also understand that we really need a three point shooter on the floor at all times, and we shouldn't just give up on Randy because he's not perfect -- unless we find some more perfect person to replace him with. His main benefit is his shooting from downtown and he too over 400 threes last year. I don't see him helping us in terms of ball handling (he made some sloppy passes) or on defense. And as a result, I don't know if the role of starting shooting guard should be something we pencil him in for in 2013-14. If he had a more designated hitter role off the bench to bust zones and help us when we need threes that minimizes his negative effects it would be a great fit.

And I think that's the role we want for him. He has value still, for sure, even if he's going to almost assuredly going to be shooting closer to his career numbers next year.



Bottom line:

The bottom line is that until we get someone better, we shouldn't get rid of Randy Foye. We need threes -- we have lots of data to prove it. Randy hits threes. He had a career year last year and even had a kid here. He knows he'll get opportunities here as well. He just may not be playing for a contender or getting the money he wants. So this is more about compelling Randy to stay than pointing out his flaws.

He's bad on defense, doesn't rebound, and unsuited to start. We all know that.

But we also need guys who can make threes -- and Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, and others help there for sure. Mo Williams may or may not be back, and Randy at least is reliable from outside. He's the best we have right now at something we need. I'm not quite ready to get rid of him, even though I'm not really crazy about him.