Detroit MLE Dreams: Udonis Haslem

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Essentials

Position: Power forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 235 pounds

Years pro: Seven

Age: 30

What he brings

Pros

  • Haslem is an excellent defender, even against bigger players. He can hold his own in the post and defend the pick-and-roll. Ben Wallace is the only player on the roster who can do both.
  • Already a quality rebounder, Haslem had his best rebounding season last year.
  • He has a solid mid-range spot-up jumper. He also finds ways to get open inside without the ball, and when his teammates find him with a pass, he usually converts.
  • He appears to be a solid team guy, coming off the bench without complaint last year.

Cons

  • He has probably peaked as a player.
  • For being a quality defender, he doesn’t create many turnovers.
  • The Heat ran him off a fair number of screens last year, possibly to keep him involved in the offense. After catching the pass, Haslem typically shot quickly, often missing, according to Synergy.
  • He can’t put the ball on the floor.

How he fits

Very well.

Haslem doesn’t create his own offense, unlike many of Detroit’s key players. And he’s an excellent defender – again, unlike many of Detroit’s key players. Haslem would help the Pistons with many of their deficiencies without adding skills they already have in abundance – which sounds pretty ideal.

The fit isn’t perfect, though. Haslem plays power forward – a crowded, yet underwhelming position for the Pistons. But Charlie Villanueva and Chris Wilcox might be the only two Pistons whose ideal position is power forward.

Villanueva is certainly more talented than Haslem (and Wilcox might be, too, but that’s less relevant). Having a reliable alternative to Villanueva’s wild swings in production would be great directly – and indirectly, it might help Villanueva focus and become a better player.

It’s not ideal, but Haslem can hold his own at center, too. He’s certainly not another Wilcox, who despite being two inches taller than Haslem, was eaten alive while playing center last year. I’d prefer the Pistons sign someone who’s a little more adept at playing center, but Haslem is hardly a liability there.

In other words

Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops:

Strengths – Solid defender, energy guy who rarely plays out of control or is turnover prone, has a good knack of being at the right place for rebounds, reliable free throw shooter and midrange jumper. Even played center for an entire season which shows how much heart he has. Championship starter in 2006 and has considerable playoff experience.

Weaknesses – Still has a limited offensive game apart from his midrange jumper. Undersized for his position. Shouldn’t be asked to create his own jump shot. Will get a fair amount of shots blocked around the rim because of his size and footwork. Could learn a few fake moves so his offensive game wasn’t so predictable.

Should command about as much as he’s made in his last contract ($6-7 million) and has said he might consider a hometown discount for the Heat.

Signability

With LeBron James and Chris Bosh (and Mike Miller!) joining Dwyane Wade in Miami, Haslem could be the odd man out. For him to stay with the Heat, he’d almost assuredly have to take a minimum contract. A Miami native who played collegiately at Florida, he may take less money to stay with the Heat – but a minimum contract is quite the drop.

I expect to him at least test the market. Returning to Miami for the minimum will always be on the table.

The Pistons have shown interest in Haslem, according to Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News.

Because of his solid, yet low-upside game, Haslem might be the perfect type of free agent for the Pistons – someone worth the full mid-level exception who might not get better offers anywhere else.

I’d be a little concern about paying Haslem $7.6 million when he’s 35, but it’s not outrageous.

Conclusion

Haslem would bring a toughness and energy similar to that of Matt Barnes. And he’d do it at a position of greater need (assuming Tayshaun Prince isn’t traded).

Although Haslem is 30, he’s only spent seven years in the NBA. For a guy who’s played deep into the playoffs, there isn’t that much wear and tear on his body.

Haslem would be a nice, safe signing – and that just might be what Detroit needs.

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