July 17, 2008
According to the Boston Globe former Celtic shooting guard James Posey has agreed to a four-year, $25 million contract with the New Orleans Hornets. He’ll bring athleticism, outside shooting, stellar defense and a championship swagger to a young Hornets squad that can use all of that — but it’s a steep price to pay for a 31-year-old who has averaged just 9.2 points per game over his nine-year NBA career.
James Posey Photo Credit: Icon SMI
I’ve been a fan of Posey’s since his days in Denver at the beginning of the decade when he was a much different player. Back then the Ohio native and Xavier product was a pesky defender, but he was also a big part of the offense and pretty decent dunker. In his last two seasons for the Nuggets Posey averaged double-digit scoring and just under 3 assists and 6 rebounds a game to go with his solid steals totals. Posey wasn’t what you would call efficient though, sporting around 2 TOs a game to go along with a field-goal shooting around 37%, including over three three-point attempts at under 30%.
He was shipped to Houston during the 2002-03 season where his offense took a back seat before he signed free agent in Memphis for the 2003-04 season. That was the last year Posey scored in double figures, but despite the decline in offensive production his game has aged well in recent years. Over the last five seasons he’s shot at least 37% from behind the arc and over 40% from the field four times. He’s also kept his turnovers at less than one per game in each of the last three seasons.
Posey always had fast hands and a nose for the passing lanes, which has led to 1.2 steals a game over his career. His good defensive instincts have only gotten better and his discipline is greatly improved, allowing him to be a strong defensive rebounder and one of the best in the league at taking charges in limited minutes.
That good footwork and discipline is why Posey has become renown for his ability to keep premier scorers off balance and out of the paint.
He’s honed his game in those respects over the years in addition to adding a mental edge, carving out a role for himself along the lines of a “young” Bruce Bowen. Posey focuses a bulk of his energy on being an incredibly scrappy, irritating and effective defensive presence on the wing. He gets under people’s skin with chippy defense and active hands and throws them off their game by refusing to stop just because the whistle has blown. And like Bowen, on offense he’s now content to just hover around the perimeter knocking down threes. Last season Posey attempted 3.8 of his 5.6 field goals from three-point range — burying 38% of those triples.
What to expect from Posey in The Big Easy, after the jump…
The 6-8 swingman now figures to resume his role as a starter in New Orleans, but his role will remain largely the same. The Hornets have a dearth of playoff experience, veteran leadership and grit. Posey will provide those. They got pushed around by the Spurs. Posey won’t. New Orleans has lacked a steadying presence at the off-guard slot, and he can be that for 30 minutes a game.
Posey knows that selflessly focusing on his less flashy strengths has led to two rings already, so don’t expect him to cry if the Hornets don’t make him a focus of the offense — he’ll take his as it comes.
And even if Posey is competing with Peja Stojakovic for outside shots, there should be plenty to go around with David West drawing doubles and the incomparable Chris Paul penetrating and dishing. Peja is an extremely poor defender and, when you consider he’s 6-10, a terrible rebounder. But with Peja’s strong offensive game, he and Posey could be perfect complements on the perimeter.
You can say what you will about Posey’s limited offensive game and after-the-whistle antics, but at this point it’s hard to deny the man’s effectiveness. He’s played an important role on two of the last three NBA Championship teams. The Hornets think they’re on the cusp of the NBA Finals with this core, just a piece or two away. In four years when his body is wearing down New Orleans will be overpaying for Posey’s services — but if he can help them snatch a title before then, well, you won’t hear anybody complaining about it.
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