Rodney Stuckey, underrated free agent?

John Hollinger of ESPN:

Based on his placement on all the "top free agent" lists, Rodney Stuckey is now officially the most underrated player in the league.

Hollinger probably wasn’t referring to Chad Ford’s list, which ranked Rodney Stuckey fifth:

Stuckey continues his steady improvement in Detroit but hasn’t really reached his ceiling. He’s still more comfortable as a slasher/scorer than as a point guard, and he hasn’t found a consistent stroke from long range. But at this point he’s a big part of the Pistons’ future. I doubt there’s any chance they’ll let him walk.

Or Tom Ziller’s, which ranked Stuckey seventh:

While everyone was focused on the drama in Detroit last season, Stuckey quietly began to realize his promise. he found his way on offense, becoming for the first time in his career a scorer with average efficiency. He’s also become a nice playmaker (27 percent assist rate) who limits mistakes (13 percent turnover rate).

His offensive game is predicated on getting to the rim. This is partly by design — Stuckey’s of the Tough S.O.B. point guard strain making its way through the league — but always necessary due to the guard’s shaky jumper: he shoots a career 26.6 percent from long-range.

Stuckey should be a good defender, but needs some help from a coach and a team with a plan.Lawrence Frank, Detroit’s new coach, could be just the salve. It’s too bad the Pistons drafted Brandon Knight, meaning that Stuckey’s going to have to let the market and not a desperate Joe Dumars determine his value.

No, Hollinger probably saw Chris Mannix’s, which ranked Stuckey 21st – in the “Best of the rest” section, so there’s not even something to excerpt – or Eye on Basketball’s, which had Stuckey even lower:

22. Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG: A combo guard’s combo guard, Stuckey may have outstayed his welcome in Detroit, even in restricted free agency. Teams looking for quality guard play could definitely look to Stuckey who may have some improvement left in him at 25.

Stuckey’s future is brighter than J.J. Barea’s, Tayshaun Prince’s and Jamal Crawford’s – three free agents ranked ahead of Stuckey by both Mannix and EOB. So, I agree that those lists underrate him. Ford and Ziller, if anything, overrate him.

Stuckey is one of the most confusing players to evaluate, and I don’t think that ends with the media. NBA general managers are facing the same dilemma, and that makes Joe Dumars’ job even tougher when deciding how to handle Stuckey this offseason.

That conundrum is illustrated by Tom Haberstroh, who listed Stuckey to the Raptors among his best free-agent fits:

7. Rodney Stuckey (R) — Toronto Raptors
If you go strictly by points per game, Stuckey endured a down season in 2010-11, but a closer look at his campaign actually reveals a dramatic step forward. By trimming the fat in his shot selection, he posted easily the best true shooting percentage of his career and became a better distributor as a floor general.

If the Pistons decide to hand over the keys to draftee Brandon Knight, they could cut ties with Stuckey and let him walk. It would save the bloated franchise some cash, but it’s not a good bet that Knight will ever match Stuckey’s 18.4 player efficiency rating in 2010-11. If Tyson Chandler returns to Dallas, the Raptors should focus their energy on nabbing a point guard for the long haul. Remember, at 25, Stuckey is just entering his prime.

Apparently, that doesn’t apply to the Pistons, though. Stuckey also made Haberstroh’s list of worst fee-agent fits:

3. Rodney StuckeyDetroit Pistons
It certainly raised some eyebrows when the Pistons drafted point guard Brandon Knightwhen they already had a fine floor general in Stuckey. However, the Pistons could use the glut at the 1 to their advantage. How? Sign Stuckey, package him with one of their deadweight contracts and trade for a legitimate talent that fits better on the roster.

First and foremost, the Pistons’ top priority should be freeing up some long-term cap space. Flaunting Stuckey, a productive young point guard who posted a 18.4 PER last season, could be their only option to fill the massive hole at the 4. Might be a good time to call Atlanta about Josh Smith.

Tags: Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince

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