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In defense of Sonny Weems

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  • In defense of Sonny Weems

    This was originally a response to a few posts concerning Weems in the James Johnson thread. But it got pretty big and started to verge off topic, so I'm starting a thread instead. The thesis stated: Weems plays much better than people on these boards think he does, and he should replace Barbosa (who should be traded) as the bench 2 guard. A common knock is that he takes the bad shot. This is true, but he will hit them. Like a less spastic Marco Belinelli. A good coach who holds his players accountable should fix that habit right quick. The other common knock is his bad attitude and lack of will to improve defensively. This last point is what I mostly want to address here.

    The biggest thing to remember about Sonny is that he played this year out of position. In no way should he be playing the 3. If you think Demar Derozan is undersized for the 3, well, Weems is not only shorter by an inch, but lighter by a good 15-20 pounds. Makes no sense to play him at the 3. When he plays there, he simply doesn't do well. PER of 9 vs. an Opp. PER of 15.6. That's a terrible differential, due mostly to his offense, not his defence, which is average (See above about taking the bad shot).

    Play him at the 2, and this changes dramatically: PER of 14.6 vs. an Opp. PER of 12. Basically, when he played at the 2, he outplayed his opponent. Importantly, he did this through improved defence (Opp. PER of 12 is excellent) and vastly improved offense. Give him 24 minutes at the 2, instead of the 3, and he'll give you 12 points and neutralize his man. That's exactly the kind of production you want from your bench 2 guard (unless you're looking for your bench 2 to be your sixth man).

    And for those who rag on him for it looking like he coasted on D this year, just take a quick look at his numbers, and you'll see that he actually improved on defence. Considerably. Last year Opp. PER (at the 2 and 3, respectively): 17.4, 19.1. This year: 12, 15.6. Playing out of position, he still played better D than he did last year playing his proper position. And this is with an increase in playing time - which, if Weems did in fact regress defensively, should make his numbers that much worse, not better. Those are huge increases in defensive ability (ie, the ability to make your opponent have a bad game).

    Given that a new contract for him might fall in the 2-3m dollar range, you'd be hard pressed to find a better bench 2 for the same money, for a player of his age. When Leandro Barbosa scores, it's largely out of the offensive flow. That is, he gets the points, but they don't seem to have an effect on the momentum of the team. For the cost of his services and his market value, Barbosa should be moved, for the reasons both that he could probably net the team a 3 point shooting, defensively capable bench SF, and because Weems should be playing over him anyways, given the rebuilding state of the Raptors as a whole.

  • #2
    I'm fine with him being resigned it just HAS to be for cheap and no more than 2 years. If he doesn't step his game up, ship him out.
    @sweatpantsjer

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    • #3
      I agree that people have been too hard on him. He started the year so well, but injuries kind of derailed that and he never got back on track. I do think Weems has talent, but my biggest problem with him is that most of his skills lie in the shooting department. He's not a good defender, rebounder or passer and he's not really a high energy guy who will give you a boost off the bench. His future is obviously as a bench player, but he needs to be more than just a scorer to be able get consistent minutes on anything but a really bad team.
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      • #4
        For $2M or less, I would be 50/50 about bringing him back as the backup SG behind DeRozan, if they are able to trade Barbosa. My first concern is that he has peaked and his peak isn't anything exciting. My second concern is what will being demoted from starting SF and part of the 'young-onez are the future of the team' group to backup SG do to his attitude and work ethic?

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        • #5
          Both of these arguments I tried to address in the original post.

          ceez wrote: View Post
          I'm fine with him being resigned it just HAS to be for cheap and no more than 2 years. If he doesn't step his game up, ship him out.
          In terms of Weems stepping up his game, according the numbers, he definitely has. There's no reason to think he shouldn't continue to do so.

          Tim W. wrote: View Post
          I do think Weems has talent, but my biggest problem with him is that most of his skills lie in the shooting department. He's not a good defender, rebounder or passer and he's not really a high energy guy who will give you a boost off the bench.
          Regarding Weems not being a "good defender," he may not get steals and blocks, but he keeps his opponent's numbers low. That's just straight up man-defence. Nothing flashy, but even out of position he plays average defence. When he plays the 2 he plays very good to excellent man defence. That was the whole point of the post.

          Also, not all bench players need to bring that spark, or be of the "high-energy" type. Some just need to be consistent to compliment and counter the players who come in with a rage. Having said that, I'm not so sure that he doesn't bring a considerable energy off the bench. He certainly isn't passive.

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          • #6
            CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
            My first concern is that he has peaked and his peak isn't anything exciting. My second concern is what will being demoted from starting SF and part of the 'young-onez are the future of the team' group to backup SG do to his attitude and work ethic?
            Weems has improved each of the two years he has been in Toronto and is only 24. The only stat that declined with any significance from last year was his shooting percentage - .515 to .444. Everything else either basically stayed the same or improved - including his 3pt%. This is including the fact that he played undersized in the wrong position. What of all of that makes you think he has peaked?

            Also, he was only the starting SF by default once Linas Kleiza got injured. Once James Johnson came over he went back to the bench. I'm sure he'd have no problems backing up Derozan at the 2 - his natural position - where he plays significantly better. He mostly played off the bench this year anyways.
            Last edited by jeff_hostetler; Thu Apr 21, 2011, 12:46 PM.

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            • #7
              jeff_hostetler wrote: View Post
              Weems has improved each of the two years he has been in Toronto and is only 24. The only stat that declined with any significance from last year was his shooting percentage - .515 to .444. Everything else either basically stayed the same or improved - including his 3pt%. This is including the fact that he played undersized in the wrong position. What of all of that makes you think he has peaked?

              Also, he was only the starting SF by default once Linas Kleiza got injured. Once James Johnson came over he went back to the bench. I'm sure he'd have no problems backing up Derozan at the 2 - his natural position - where he plays significantly better. He mostly played off the bench this year anyways.
              It was just from watching him play. For a guy in a contract year, I expected a lot more than what I saw. He didn't have the consistent spark/passion that he seemed to have last year and he took way too many shots with a lower %, which often times just killed the offensive flow (especially when paired with Bayless). It's just my opinion from having watched almost every game over the past several years, that he just doesn't have "it". I think Weems is destined to be similar to Joey Graham - all the tools, but unable to put it together.

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              • #8
                My concern is his game is too similar to DeMar's and DD definitely has the most upside. Given neither one are All-NBA status, it would be nice to have a change of pace coming off the bench.

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                • #9
                  Matt52 wrote: View Post
                  My concern is his game is too similar to DeMar's and DD definitely has the most upside. Given neither one are All-NBA status, it would be nice to have a change of pace coming off the bench.
                  That's legitimate, for sure. And probably my biggest concern.

                  He is a better defender and 3 point shooter, though. And he runs the fast-break better. If he works on those three areas, he'll provide that different look (in theory). I assume DD is going to improve his handle more so than anything as the years progress, so, I see their skills diverging more in the future: Derozan as the shot-creating, slashing, shooting 2 guard, Weems as the spot up shooting, defending 2 guard. Depending on who they get at the 3 in the future, they may need his confidence and willingness to be aggressive on offense off the bench.

                  The whole premise of this of course is Weems being signed to a reasonable contract. If he's overpayed, he becomes less useful.

                  CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
                  It was just from watching him play. For a guy in a contract year, I expected a lot more than what I saw.
                  I watched most of the games as well, and while I admit he definitely made some bad plays - mostly derived from him thinking he was better than he is - and I had pretty high hopes for him, he did show enough to me that he's worth keeping around. I think the Joey Graham comparison, while easy to make, doesn't give Weems enough credit. Joey Graham doesn't know what to do with himself on the court. Weems knows what to do, sometimes though he just tries to do too much.

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                  • #10
                    I say no thanks to Weems. I have said it in the past that his future is an an NBA 2 guard, just not on this team. He can not create his own shot well, he does not shoot the spot up 3 (-28%) well, he does not handle the ball to take any pressure off the PG well, and his defense is average.
                    Twitter @WJ_FINDLAY

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                    • #11
                      Sonny had a tough year. I think he was put off last summer when he didn't get his extension, especially since the "Young Guns" concept seemed to be getting pushed by the Raptors after they lost Bosh in July. The Raps shone the spotlight on DeRozan as a franchise cornerstone, inked Amir to his big pay day, but Sonny was left making $850,000 this season with no guarantee of something past that and I think that hurt him a bit. Mix that in with the injury troubles he had during the middle portion of the season and it just didn't seemed like he didn't play nearly as hard this year.

                      Whether or not they re-sign him depends on what direction they go in the draft, the state of the labor negotiations, whether or not they found a taker for Bargnani, and a bunch of other variables. He's probably not a huge priority this summer if we're being honest, and I could see the Raps letting him walk if he asks for any significant amount of money.

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                      • #12
                        I actually like Weems a lot. He earned the nick name "Money" last year with that mid range game and has shown the balls to take, and make, some big shots. Ever since he got hurt though his game and confidence have been MIA. His handle and decision making need to improve and so does his motor (he definitely seems to get lost at times and coast at others) but, like you said, these are things a good coach could help with. At the money he's been making and might command I have zero problem with resigning him.
                        LET'S GO RAP-TORS!!!!!

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                        • #13
                          i remember last year he was such a good defender.

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                          • #14
                            I like and I don't like Weems. As a cheap bench guy, and that would mean $1.5M in my mind, perhaps. He would have to learn to pick his shots, and I like the 'idea' of him as a defensive 2, and I do think he can be that kind of player, but he has to prove it before he can even be a $2-3M guy. His defensive numbers aside, saying he is a better 3pt shooter is not painting the whole picture, since as WJF said, he shot under 28% (for a career average of 24.1%), and that is horrible. Sure he's not Shaq shooting a 3, but not someone you want to be shooting it.

                            If he can stay within his game (which he did at the end of last year), work on his 3pt shooting...a LOT, and focus on being a defensive 2 (not a chucker 2), then I say a 1+1 contract (second 1 being a team option) in the $1M range first year and $2M in his second say, as an incentive to play within his game and improve the areas he needs to for the TEAM is warranted.

                            My opinion, is $3M is too much for him right now.

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                            • #15
                              And you are right he needs a coach who keeps a handle on him. He's still somewhat young, needs to be kept in check when he (and most players will) goes a little off the rails.

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