Larry Hughes arrived in a midseason trade with Chicago. The Knicks were in dire need of a shooting guard precipitated by the Cuttino Mobley injury, and Hughes’ poisoned contract made him available. Back in 2005, Hughes was a highly sought after free agent, but he never lived up to his contract as LeBron’s sidekick, and Chicago fans soured on him quickly. In New York, he arrived with lesser expectations as fans were just happy that he had a normal beating heart.
Hughes has a reputation as a good defender and he seems above average to the eye. However 82games had the Knicks’ defense 4.2 points worse with him on the court. I’m inclined to give him a pass, and wait until next year to make a better judgment on his effectiveness.
On the other end of the court, there’s no doubt that Hughes was a huge detriment to the offense. His shooting efficiency numbers were atrocious: 44.8% eFG and 49.3% TS%. Basically his shooting was so bad, if it weren’t for Jared Jeffries he would be the worst among the Knick rotation players. Hughes’ ability to slash to the hoop has been diminished as witnessed by his shrinking free throw attempts (6.9 fta/36 in 2005 down to 3.5 last year). One thing he has improved on is his three point shot. Over the last 4 years, Hughes has averaged 35.6% from downtown.
Even at his peak, Hughes was never a good scorer. He’s had an eFG over 46% twice, and never has had his TS% go above 53%. At this stage he should be a deep option off the bench for defensive purposes, and be given limited opportunities on offense. A good litmus test for rookie Toney Douglas will be if he can supplant Hughes in D’Antoni’s rotation this season. Like Hughes, Douglas is a defensive specialist and you hope that he can put up better offensive numbers than Hughes.
Report Card (5 point scale):
Byron Scott was still a starter at the same age, but a year later would be his last as a starter. The year 2000 was Bobby Phils last, and Todd Day played one more season. I mention these three, because they have the highest TS% of the group, and they barely had careers in their 30s. It’s hard to imagine Hughes sticking around for much longer.