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Detroit MLE Dreams: Louis Amundson (Updated with more from Schwartz)

Essentials

Position: Power forward/ center

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 238 pounds

Years pro: Four

Age: 27

What he brings

Pros

  • Only nine qualifying players had higher shot-blocking percentages last year than Amundson, who posted a 4.4. Even though Amundson didn’t play enough to be a league leader, his career percentage of 4.5 indicates his blocking ability is no fluke.
  • He’s a good rebounder – offensively and defensively, but more so offensively.
  • He’s pretty quick for his size.
  • He’s tough, gritty and hustles.
  • He was good on the pick-and-roll last year, according to Synergy, but I’m going to chalk that up to Steve Nash and think there’s minimal chance Amundson would continue that in Detroit.
  • He seems fun.
  • Amundson averaged 11.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes last season.

Cons

  • Although his per-36-minute stats seem impressive, I’m not sure they’d be sustainable in Detroit if Amundson was given a larger role. One, the Suns had more possessions per 36 minutes than the Pistons likely will. Two, he averaged 5.2 fouls per 36 minutes (which was actually below his career average). Three, I’m not sure he could sustain his energy level for big minutes. He only once played more than 25 minutes last year.
  • His actual numbers this season – career-bests no less – were 4.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game.
  • At power forward, his PER was 17.6 and his counterpart’s was 19.1, according to 82games. The difference was even worse at center, where his PER was 7.9 and his opponent’s was 18.6.
  • His two-year adjusted plus-minus is –5.93, according to BasketballValue.com.
  • Basically, he has no refined offensive skills.
  • A large chunk of his attempts come on putbacks, but he only scored .94 points per possession on offensive rebounds – 153rd in the league, according to Synergy.
  • His defensive-rebounding percentage rose considerably this year after being disappointing for a big man the previous two years. Which was the fluke?
  • He gave up a lot of points per possession on isolation defense, according to Synergy, but I think that’s largely due to Phoenix’s flawed defense, which often had him switching to guards and small forwards. (For what it’s worth, the Pistons don’t switch as often – part of the reason they allowed opponents to shoot so well behind the 3-point arc.)

How he fits

Amundson isn’t an ideal fit.

He took off in Phoenix’s up-tempo system, and I have some doubts about how he’d translate into a half-court scheme. He was quick enough to move around in the open court and strong enough to punish opponents physically with the Suns. But I’m not sure he can dole out – and sustain – similar punishment in the crowded lanes created by slow-temp teams like the Pistons.

He’d also be yet another power forward who’s probably a good backup but too flawed to be a reliable starter at the position right now. See Charlie Villanueva, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell and Chris Wilcox.

But Amundson is big, not old and one of the better free agents still available. The fit isn’t that egregious where he makes no sense.

The Pistons desperately need someone to protect the rim when Ben Wallace is out of the game. I’d prefer they get someone who can also do other things, but Amundson can at least do that.

In other words

Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns was tied up with the Suns hiring Lon Babby yesterday. He plans to provide us more info on Amundson in the next couple days. But in the meantime, he answered one question I had – can Amundson play center?

Lou at center is really pushing it. He can for stretches in a small ball lineup designed to run your opponent out of the building, but one of the negatives I was going to say is that he can get pushed around by some of the bigger power forwards and he sometimes gets gobbled up by larger centers. He does a lot of center-like things in terms of rebounding and blocking shots, but he can certainly be backed down by a true power guy.

UPDATE: More Amundson analysis from Schwartz:

Lou Amundson is your prototypical bench hustle guy. He will come in off the bench and do all the dirty work. He’s been the Suns’ best rebounder for the past two seasons and perhaps their best shot blocker as well. He will have a couple games a month where it looks like he’s running circles around the opposition he gets to so many balls, and he can make a profound impact on a basketball game.

He was great running with the Suns’ defensive-minded second unit. He could often start fast breaks with rebounds or blocked shots and he’s a great finisher at the rim. He is extremely athletic and a great leaper. You likely have seen him in a number of highlights finishing dunks.

The downside is that is where his offensive game begins and ends. He can score you a couple buckets a game on putbacks and in transition, but other than that he is completely non-existent on the offensive end (besides being a good offensive rebounder). He has no post game to speak of and Suns fans groaned any time he attempted a mid-range jumper. His form isn’t terrible and he has been working on it, but the guy at this stage of his career just can’t shoot. He’s also a horrid free-throw shooter (one of the worst in the league) and understandably can disappear on the offensive end.

I would sign him to something like a three-year, $10 million contract if I were a GM. He will be 28 when the season begins, and since he’s a guy who relies solely on athleticism I would be leery of a long contract. About $3 mil a year or so seems fair for a guy with such a limited offensive game. Lou has never really been paid in the NBA so understandably he wants to cash in, but I would not make too big of an investment in the man known as Loooouuuuuuuuuuuuu.

Some other fun Lou facts are that he rode his bike to the arena during the 2008-09 season, which led to the Suns creating a "Lou Amundson Bike Valet" outside of US Airways Center last season. Back in ’08-09 he also pulled a prank on Shaq that either speaks to his courage or stupidity. Lou is a great team guy, and I’m sure his teammates will miss having him around.

In sum, Lou is perfect for the role of energy forward off the bench. He will grab some boards, block some shots and inject electricity into the building. On some nights he can be a real game changer with his hustle a few minutes at a time, just don’t expect anything from him offensively.

Signability

Before the offseason, Schwartz estimated Amundson could command about $10 million over three years. The market may indicate Amundson could get a little more, but he also might be the type of guy who slips through the cracks. I’ll say it will even out and Schwartz’s initial prediction will be pretty close.

Obviously, with the full Mid-Level Exception at their disposal, the Pistons could sign him. That would also leave about half the exception to sign another player or two.

Conclusion

At the beginning of free agency, I would’ve been extremely disappointed if Amundson was Detroit’s top signing. At this point, he might be the best realistic option on the market. For a three year contract, striking out might be better. For a one- or maybe even a two-year deal, Amundson wouldn’t be bad. (Can you hear my excitement?)

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18 Comments

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  • Jul 21, 20108:36 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    I wouldn’t mind him. He has got a lot of piston like qualities about him. At least he plays D and wears his heart on his sleeve unlike CV and Wilcox. He was one of the reasons phoenix came back in a lot of there playoff games. He was a big part of there second unit.

  • Jul 21, 201010:42 am
    by brgulker

    Reply

    I think your conclusion is spot on. 1-2 years might make some sense.
    Not that he’s a bad player, or anything, simply that if we’re going to use the MLE, I think it needs to be strategic. Looking at the cap, our current contracts, and 2-3 years into the future, we could be in luxury tax territory quite easily, depending on what we do with all our players that are currently on rookie contracts.
    If we do use the MLE, the urgency to trade Rip/Tay/etc. increases dramatically, unless ownership is willing to go into the tax with a middling roster…

  • Jul 21, 201012:39 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    ok i’m sorry dan feldman, but what’s this business about “you could sign him and still have half the MLE to sign another player or two?” assuming we bring back will bynum, that’s 14 roster spots. i won’t get into whether or not amundson makes sense on the team or is any better than max, but if he did get signed, who exactly are these mystery bargain bin free agents we’ll add? and who are we going to cut (and still pay) to make room? i don’t think there’s a free agent left who would be a significant upgrade to the roster.
    playing fantasy GM can be fun, but you’re not doing it right.

  • Jul 21, 20101:37 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    Laser: Summers’ contract isn’t guaranteed I don’t think, so I’d guess he’d be a candidate to go.
    As for Amundson, I’d be fine with him. As a stop-gap though, Josh Boone wouldn’t be bad on a one or two year deal at the minimum.

  • Jul 21, 20105:33 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    heh. so, uh, who are these guys we’re throwing summers (who’s paid like my next door neighbor) away for? i don’t think there are two free agents left i’d rather have than summers. that guy’s been buried behind tay, daye and jay jay, and he’s looked good every time i’ve seen him play. don’t get me wrong, i think he’s a perfect joe dumars candidate to get the arron afflalo treatment, but it’s a shame. he probably will be another casualty of  dumars’s piss poor management, and that’s one of the reasons i’ve got one foot out the pistons’ door. if i were still a pistons fan, and the best we could do in free agency was josh boone, i’d eat a bullet. call him a stop-gap all you want, pat. you’re fooling yourself. we’re all stop-gaps right now, because we’re in a holding pattern with all these wing players. vets we can’t (or won’t) move standing in the way of young guys who NEED minutes. this team is a joke.

  • Jul 21, 20106:08 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    I don’t really take comments seriously when they have lines like “I’ve got one foot out the door.” I mean, go then. It’s just a basketball team. A decade full of winning followed by two sub-par seasons, and you’re done? Pretty weak.
    Summers is nowhere near as good as Afflalo and, unlike Afflalo who had a phenomenal work ethic dating back to his UCLA career, Summers has been known as a guy who was inconsistent in college and who didn’t seem to work particularly hard last year — there were multiple stories about Daye and Jerebko hanging out with Ben Wallace in the weight room last year, no mentions of Summers doing the same. In fact, of those three, he was looked at as the most NBA-ready physically, and he was just frankly beat out by the other two for the playing time that was available.
    Summers is a great athlete built like a prototypical NBA wing. He’s the type of guy you take a chance on in the second round, hoping he finds the effort and motivation and consistency to reach his potential. Unfortunately, last year happened to be a year with an abnormal amount of second round talent and the Pistons missed out on better players by selecting Summers.
    He could still end up being a good player. But they are loaded on the wings, and Daye and Jerebko have shown much more in their Pistons career. If it were a choice between keeping Summers to sit behind multiple people on the bench or giving his roster spot to a free agent big like Amundson, who would have a chance to help, I’d go with Amundson. They may not even have to cut Summers, they might be able to trade him to a more wing-needy team for a future second rounder, which would be fine.
    The Dumars “piss-poor” management meme is weak. It’s not worth the time to refute in detail anymore. He’s won a title, he built a team that was a title contender for nearly a decade, and he has some pieces on this team that can be a part of a winning franchise.
    Josh Boone is a young, strong big man who plays hard, can rebound and block shots in limited minutes. If he’s healthy, he’d be a fine pickup as a fourth or fifth big. He’s the type of guy every team every year is in the market for to fill out their roster. No one is saying Boone or Amundson or any available big is going to be a difference maker, but they need depth up front and if that comes at the expense of a player at a deep position who hasn’t done much to distinguish himself, then so be it.

  • Jul 21, 20107:16 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    Laser don’t let the door hit you on the way out buddy and maybe you should eat that bullet. You might as well keep running and jump on the south beach band wagon with all the others cause the REAL fans support there team through the good times and ESPECIALLY the bad.
    Patrick i must admit that i too am very worried that if we were to get rid of Summer’s he might just flourish just like Affalo and many others have but if he is not prepared to fight for his spot then that is out of our control (see Darko). I suppose another problem i do have is that if we are to trade Summer’s then maybe Joe should of just taken a punt on drafting DeJuan Blair who was eventually taken 2 spots later. Yeah i know Blair had red flags on his knee’s (ACL issues/No ACL’s) but we already had Prince, drafted Daye in 1st round and then JJ 2 spots after Blair. I mean it was the second round and we definately need some front court help and Blair was a top 15 prospect until he was passed over by every team in the league. I would say that Blair must of been the biggest ever slider EVER in the NBA draft. I know hindsight all GMs would do a lot of things differently but i really think Joe should of taken Blair while he was still on the board and he probably should of done the same thing again this year by picking a big (Character). Hopefully Terrico White proves me wrong.

  • Jul 21, 201010:26 pm
    by TDP

    Reply

    SIGN ETAN THOMAS NOW!!!

  • Jul 21, 201010:36 pm
    by koz

    Reply

    a strong  young hustle player, tough with a good attitude. would be a good fit into the pistons style of play. I say go for it.

  • Jul 22, 20103:34 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Gulker, that’s an excellent point. If the Pistons sign someone with the MLE who doesn’t work out, they’d probably have to trade one of Hamilton or Prince or let Prince walk in the summer. Maybe it makes sense to not sign anyone.

  • Jul 22, 20103:45 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Laser, you know, the Pistons could make a trade that creates more roster spots. The goal of signing Amundson wouldn’t be to leave money for other free agents. It would be because he might be the best viable big man free agent still on the market. Having extra money would be small bonus.

  • Jul 22, 20103:47 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Patrick, DaJuan Summers’ contract became guaranteed for this year on July 1. Pistons could still cut him, but it would be more costly.

  • Jul 22, 20103:52 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Gmehl, I think you’re right about Summers. Maybe the only way Summers finds the motivation to succeed is by being traded. If that’s the case, the Pistons are in a no-win scenario.

    As far as Blair, I wanted him instead of Daye. Then, I wanted him instead of Summers. But it’s tough to blame Dumars. At least nearly every other GM — and maybe every GM — doubted Blair because of his health.

  • Jul 22, 20104:03 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    TDP, I was pretty surprised to see Etan Thomas is only 32. He seems much older and has only played 49 games the last three years combined.

    He’s only played more than 47 games in a season twice in his career! That’s pretty insane.

    If the Pistons signed him to a minimum contract to be a backup backup backup big man, I wouldn’t complain. But that’s in part because they wouldn’t sign him unless he passed a physical.

    Who knows, maybe Arnie Kander could help him have a Dana Barros-like revival. I just don’t see it.

  • Jul 22, 20104:04 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Koz, after seeing the videos Schwartz linked (especially the second one), I’d be even more excited if Detroit signed Amundson.

  • Jul 22, 20106:26 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    sure, the pistons “could” make a trade that frees up roster spots, but i don’t think it’s happening. obviously joe is having a hard time moving the contracts he wants to move, because he’s got so darned many bad contracts. i can’t stand all these kids who act like joe should be commended for not spending the MLE. i’m not in favor of spending the MLE now (i don’t think there’s a good free agent left), but i’m not about to pat joe on the back for anything. he should have offered the MLE to felton in the first place. this team is a mess. joe’s been a disaster lately. he’s not biding  his time waiting to make a move, he’s cowering in a corner trying to convince himself that injuries were our only problem last year. i’d love to believe joe is going to make a move, but i don’t think there are any beneficial moves to be made, and that’s a reflection on the rotten team joe’s put together. and still, if anyone can explain how we’re going to divide our perimeter minutes, i’d just love to know.

  • Jul 22, 201010:35 pm
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Laser, Raymond Felton signed a two-year, $15.8 million contract. The Pistons could have offered a two year deal worth up to $11.2 million. They also could have offered a five-year deal worth up to $33,437,000. Maybe he would’ve taken the long-term security over less money per year. Maybe he wouldn’t have. But you can’t assume Felton could have been a Piston if Dumars offered.

    I don’t think injuries were Detroit’s only problem, and I don’t think Dumars does either. But they were a big problem.

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