From today through the start of the free agent signing period on Wednesday, Project Spurs will profile free agents on our wishlists.
Of all the free agent big men that the Spurs might pursue, Drew Gooden is the most well known and familiar to Spurs fans. That is both good and bad.
First, the good. The Spurs front office and their fans had a chance to see him for 19 games during the regular season and four during the postseason, which means they are familiar with what he can bring. That’s a good thing because they don’t have to ask the same questions about him like they do with Marcin Gortat or Ryan Hollins, who are relative unknowns at this point compared to Gooden. During his 19 games with the Spurs, Gooden confirmed my beliefs about him.
While not a great rebounder, Gooden is a good rebounder. His true rebounding rate, which is an estimation of the total rebounds a player grabs out of all possible rebounds, was 15.5%. This is better than Rasheed Wallace but lower than Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess or Marcin Gortat.
Gooden also displayed a solid low post game, probably the best that the Spurs have had (besides Duncan’s of course) since David Robinson. He showed nice footwork around the basket and has respectable touch from mid range and in. With the Spurs he averaged 21 points per 36 minutes, which was the best of his career.
However, Gooden also has his weaknesses, and I don’t mean poor choices in facial hair. Unlike Gortat or Hollins, who are young and still show potential to develop, Gooden is an established player. What we saw last season is what we will get with him. Nothing drastic will change at this point.
Despite Gooden’s offensive strengths around the basket he is somewhat of a black hole with the ball. He is not a good passer and rarely looks to create for others. He also doesn’t have a high basketball IQ. Don’t expect him to make the quick, intelligent off the ball cuts that Fabricio Oberto was so good at a few years ago.
Gooden is also extremely limited defensively. He is nothing more than an average athlete and rarely collects blocks or steals, averaging 0.2 blocks and 0.2 steals with the Spurs. Similar to the offensive end, Gooden lacks a high basketball IQ on the defensive end, missing switches or finding himself out of place.
If the Spurs decide to find an offensive big man then Gooden could be a good fit. However, I have a feeling the Spurs are looking more for defense and athleticism at this point because the addition of Richard Jefferson adds another scorer. Even though DeJuan Blair should help on the boards, the Spurs were weaker at both rebounding and blocking this past season than normal. Gooden should command somewhere between $3 million and $5 million on the market depending on how much others are paid. At 28 he is still young enough that a team could expect 10-13 points and 5-8 rebounds out of him for the next three to four years. The Spurs should probably look at players who provide more in the way of rebounds and blocks but Gooden is an established player they would not have to ask many questions about.