Aaron McKie: A Quick Look

Kurt —  August 18, 2005

Which past-his-prime, tall guard being converted to the play point sounds better to you, Derek Anderson or Aaron McKie?

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers are looking at McKie, who just got set free in the formerly-Alan-Houston-rule-now-the-Jerome-Williams-rule cuts. Since he’s on the radar, let’s take a quick look at McKie.

McKie played in 21 more games than Anderson last season but still played 121 fewer minutes than Anderson, averaging just 16.4 minutes per game (the Times mistakenly said McKie played 48 games last year, but he played in 68, starting 3). McKie is a couple of years older and has played three more seasons in the league than Anderson (11 total for McKie).

A few things concern me about McKie, and let’s start with what the Lakers need most from their point guard — defense. The good news is that McKie’s defensive numbers are pretty good — the last two seasons his defensive ratings were 104 and 103 (points per 100 possessions used by who he was guarding), both numbers at or below the league average and much better than Chuck Atkins 115 last season. Last year guards shot 50% against him, the season before 47%, the later being a pretty good number. The bad news is that McKie was not asked to cover point guards (Iverson took that duty), 82games has McKie matched almost exclusively against twos and three the last two years. What can he do against smaller, quicker point guards?

What should concern everyone about McKie is he combines some age with a drop off in production last season. From the 98-99 season through the 03-04 season, McKie averaged double digits in points scored per 40 minutes played, last season that number dropped to 5.4. He shot 32.3% from three-point range last year, below his career average of 35% and well below two seasons ago when he shot 43.6%. Or just look at his PER starting in the 01-02 season through last year: 15.8, 13.7, 13.9, 8.4.

Now all that said, McKie is not an offensive black hole, he still had an eFG% of 50% and had 1.02 points per shot attempt last season, numbers that were down from the previous season but not horrible, especialy coming to a team where he will not be asked to score a lot.

Was last year an aberration or is McKie sliding very fast on the down slope of his career (ala Brian Grant)? Does the decline in numbers relate to how he was used last year (I didn’t see many Philly games)?

Despite all my concerns, the Sixers were 1.6 points better per 48 minutes with McKie on the court rather than off last season. And if the Lakers are getting him for a two-year deal (one plus a team option would be nice) for just part of the MLE, while they find a better long-term solution at the point, then McKie could work out. Anderson could be the more gifted player when healthy, but McKie may be a somewhat safer bet.

Kurt

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