At today's trade deadline, the Thunder pulled off a small time trade. The Nuggets would send Randy Foye to OKC, while the Thunder's Augustin and Novak would be headed to Denver. Also involved in the deal were two second round draft picks from the Thunder.
Essentially, the Thunder were able to grab an active rotation player from a semi-competitive Western Conference team. All OKC had to give up was a point guard that never seemed to gel (Augustin) and a contract albatross at the end of the bench (Novak).
What Foye brings to the table
The first thing that sticks out to me about Randy Foye is his big time scoring ability. Back on December 23rd, Foye logged a 31 point performance against the Phoenix Suns. And last season, Foye scored 20+ points in four separate games.
This doesn't give any hope of consistency, of course. Foye is shooting 35% overall and 30% from three, both of which are career lows. But given Foye's big games, it makes one wonder how Foye would do when given a bit more space to work on the Thunder.
I decided to investigate by looking at the tracking stats provided by NBA.com. I put Foye's stats in some key categories next to those of the Thunder wings he'll compete against. First up is his offense:
The first question that comes to mind when recruiting a Thunder wing is: "Can they make open threes?" Because the Thunder are such an effective offensive team, it's easy for players to get open shots. In Foye's case, it's almost certain that he would have more open looks in OKC than he did in Denver.
That's why it's so reassuring to see that Foye at least makes his open threes. His percentage beats out all Thunder wings this season, including Kevin Durant. There's a few caviats to this information, though. First of all, the sample size for each player is limited. In Singler and Roberson's case, we're looking at maybe 20-30 shots. But that's still enough to give us a rough idea of what each guy can do.
The other caviat is that Foye has been inconsistent in this area historically. In 14-15, Foye shot 31% on open threes. And in 13-14, Foye shot 45% on open threes. If it's any condolence, Foye's sample size in 13-14 was about twice as big as his sample size in 14-15.
Also, I'd just like to say that KD's number is misleading, simply because he shoots way beyond the three point line sometimes. If KD was getting open corner threes, his percentage would be way higher.
As you can see, Foye is middle of the pack when it comes to wing defense. I will admit that this metric is a little bit unfair, simply because Foye spent approximately half the season playing backup point guard. But Foye isn't a natural point guard, and won't be playing that position on the Thunder. Furthermore, Foye's numbers are consistent with those of his last healthy season (2013-14). In that year, Foye was defending the wing positions.
But this metric, if nothing else, shows that Foye brings something on defense that Kyle Singler and Anthony Morrow simply don't. Foye isn't a defender on the level of Durant or Roberson, but he may be a solid option at this time.
Of course, a big issue with slotting Foye into the lineup is the fact that he's not a small forward. With the Thunder healthy, Foye would likely replace Singler. That would mean either Waiters or Foye would have to play small forward off the bench. That might be a problem against a team that likes to abuse mismatches. Thinking of the top three teams in the league right now, they all have a way of abusing Foye/Waiters at small forward. Harrison Barnes (Warriors), Richard Jefferson (Cavaliers), and Manu Ginobili (Spurs), could all certainly use their size to make some critical scoring runs. Then again....it's not like Kyle Singler is a world-class defender himself.
Making shots in space, and making decisions with the ball
Not much to add to this one. If you give Foye an opportunity in space, he's going to know what do do with the ball. When you ask Foye to create for himself, things get a little bit more dicey.
But beyond Foye's simple offensive ability, he's a great decision maker. Foye is currently averaging 2.1 assists per game, and only 1.1 turnovers. That makes for an assist to turnover ratio of 1.9. On the Thunder, only Westbrook and Payne have a higher assist to turnover ratio than Foye. OKC is currently averaging 15.5 turnovers per game, good for 5th worst in the league. Any help on that front would be welcome, and Foye certainly provides it.
Foye highlights are very impressive
I wanted to show Foye's 31 point performance against the Suns, because it's something that Foye accomplished this season. From the highlight reel, it's obvious that Foye benefited from having the smaller Ronnie Price and Eric Bledsoe guarding him. But what's also obvious is that Foye is a skilled off-the-dribble shooter, and is capable of making moves to the rim. One can't say the same about Morrow or Singler.
Also, I wanted to pull up a video that showcases Foye's clutchness. Back on January 17th, Foye hit a three pointer with 20 seconds to go. The game was tied, and Foye's three basically sealed the game for Denver. Foye did really well on the play, exploiting a mismatch with Solomon Hill and moving off the ball. Just imagine that Foye is receiving this pass from a rumbling Westbrook.
And yes, if Foye is having a hot night, it's not that hard to imagine him playing clutch minutes. The clutchness is present thoroughout Foye's career. Check out this ridiculous buzzer-beating three pointer that downed the Clippers two seasons ago.
In my view, the decision from Billy Donovan should be swift and immediate. With Andre Roberson not cleared for practice yet, the Thunder face at least another couple of weeks without their starting shooting guard. This leaves a spot at backup shooting guard currently being filled by Anthony Morrow. Morrow certainly won't have his spot when Roberson returns, simply because he doesn't offer anything defensively. So why not give Morrow's minutes to Foye? This would give Foye a chance to prove himself against Singler and earn his spot. Then, when Roberson comes back, Foye can eclipse Singler in the rotation.
In a number of ways, Foye is a good fit for the Thunder. From three point range, Foye is a proven marksman when given room. If the shot isn't there, Foye can move with the ball and knows where to pass the ball. When Foye doesn't have the ball, he runs around to create space. Defensively, Foye provides more consistency than Morrow or Singler.
Sure, Foye isn't perfect. Most glaringly, Foye is too undersized to play small forward. Furthermore, Foye is clearly a tertiary offensive option, and will lose effectiveness with increased responsibility. Finally, Foye is injury prone, with 32 missed games last season.
Still, this fact remains. The Thunder's bench, as currently constructed, has some obvious and unfixable flaws. Foye's strengths address some of those flaws, so it's only right to give him a shot.
Another signing to come?
One last thing, though. The Thunder now have an open roster spot, and have cleared $9.8 Million in salary. A couple of high profile wings, Joe Johnson and Kevin Martin, may be bought out of their contracts in the next couple of days. If so, the Thunder would be considered front runners to sign either. Johnson and Martin certainly bring more success on the NBA level. However, both players have some concerns. Joe Johnson is a veteran that's used to starting and seeing lots of possessions. There's no telling how Johnson might adjust to a bench role behind Roberson. Kevin Martin, on the other hand, is a poor defender. Also, Martin has played on the Thunder before, and his performances during the playoffs were less than inspiring.
That's not to say Martin or Johnson would be a downgrade over Foye. But the Thunder are careful with how they spend their money, and may simply like Foye as the cheapest option.
What do you think of Randy Foye? Drop a comment and let us know!