NBA Free Agents 2012: Guards Whose Production Is Sure to Slide Next Season

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 25, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Spurs defeated the Suns 110-106.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Free agency is the perfect opportunity for players to create fresh starts for themselves, whether landing with a new team or simply remaining part of an organization in some degree of flux. 

Those new opportunities don't necessarily mean improve numbers, though. The cost of winning a title or at least playing a role on a successful club often entails at least some measure of personal sacrifice.

The guys most committed to winning wouldn't have it any other way.

Here are a few free-agent guards who will be trading in production for the chance to win.


Ray Allen, SG–Will sign with the Miami Heat

Allen averaged over 14 points a game last year, but there are a few reasons we probably won't see that again.

Most importantly, the move to Miami will likely decrease the number of shots the sharp-shooter puts up. With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh almost certainly continuing to take the lion's share of field-goal attempts, Allen will have to take somewhat of a backseat.

That doesn't mean he'll become an afterthought. It just means he'll have fewer opportunities than he did in Boston with a pass-first point guard and a couple of All-Stars stubbornly clinging to their primes.

The other concern is that Allen's health going forward is no guarantee. He may not struggle with the bone spurs in his ankle that derailed his postseason performance, but the almost 37-year-old is approaching that point in his career when these things do tend to happen.


Deron Williams, PG–Will re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets

Don't expect Williams' production to take a significant dive. In fact, his assists may even improve from the 8.7 he averaged last season and approach the double-digit figures he reached in four straight seasons with the Utah Jazz.

His scoring, however, may take a step back with Joe Johnson in the picture, a full season of Gerald Wallace and a healthy Brook Lopez.

Williams took a career-high 17.5 field-goal attempts per game in 2011-12, largely because he was one of the only reliable scorers on the floor at any given time. With more help, he'll probably become more of a distributor once again–while still lighting it up whenever he wants to, of course.


Steve Nash, PG–Will go to Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade from Phoenix Suns

No, this isn't another rant about how Steve Nash is on the decline. The guy had one of his most efficient all-around seasons yet, is well-conditioned and can certainly still play.

Is there a chance his back could become a problem?

Sure. If he stays healthy, though, he'll remain productive.

That said, Nash could see his numbers take a slight step back with the Lakers. For one thing, he won't need to score much. His scoring slipped to 12.5 points per game this season, and it could easily drop another point or two when sharing the ball with Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

You might expect to see his 10.7 assists per game increase, and they certainly may. On the other hand, Bryant likes to have the ball in his hands quite a bit, so Nash may not have the same number of opportunities to create.


Andre Miller, PG–Will re-sign with the Denver Nuggets

The pass-first point guard is a perfect fit for George Karl's up-tempo attack, but he'll have to contend with the continued emergence of starter Ty Lawson and the fact that Denver is a deep team.

Miller averaged five fewer minutes a game in 2011-12 from the previous season, and he might he another slight decline this time around. If for no other reason, he's 36 years old and not as efficient shooting the ball when compared to his prime years.

He'll still get some playing time. Karl didn't hesitate to play Lawson and Miller in the backcourt at the same time. But, it's a good bet he'll drop off from the 9.7 points and 6.7 assists he averaged this year.