Name: Rafer Alston
Birth Date: July 24, 1976 (age 33)
Birth Place: Queens, New York
College: Fresno State
Drafted: 1998, 2nd round, 39th overall by Milwaukee
Experience: 9 season
Contract: $5.25 million in 2009-10
It has been said a couple of times on this site already, but Rafter Alston is the first true backup PG the Nets have had in a very long time. Rafer was the starting PG for the Orlando Magic the second half of the year, and he lead them to the finals with his solid play in the playoffs.
As we already talked about at length in the past, Rafer's style of play offensively fits in perfectly with how the Nets play, and with Devin Harris more specifically. Rafer is a real streaky shooter, and he lives by the philosophy "If I missed 9, the 10th must go in." 64% of his shots taken last year in Orlando were jumpers, and his eFG% on these shots was 44.7%. It is interesting to note that most of his shots were assisted on (48%). That number will surely go down since there aren't as many scoring threats in NJ as there is in Orlando. Let's take a look at the shooting chart.
Being a PG, it is natural to see most of his three point attempts come from the top areas (Rafer is actually pretty solid shooting the straightaway three).
fer is a jacker, there is no doubt about it. Sure he runs the offense, he does what he has to do, but if he is open (even when teams are leaving him open because he is shooting poorly) he is firing it up. There are nights where that is a good thing, but there are nights there that is a really bad thing. The key to his play this year is that if he can calm it down when playing with the first team, replacing Devin Harris. Now when he is playing with the second team, on the other hand, we need to hope that he is as aggressive as he normally is. Look at the projected second string. Dooling and Rafer are going to be the only ones providing the scoring there.
Rafer's PER while playing the point in Orlando (I continue to use his playing time in Orlando because the Magic and the Nets' style of plays are similar) was 17.2. Considering that the average PER is 15, that is pretty good production from your back-up PG.
Rafer Alston is actually a pretty solid on the ball defender, and the numbers say that he is a better defender than the man he will probably be backing up, Devin Harris. Alston held whoever he was covering to a 15.2 PER (remember that 15 is average). So basically Rafer Alston holds any PG he plays against to an average game when they are playing against him.
Rafer's defense is going to be very important when he is playing with the second string. As we have already mentioned the second string is going to be searching for offense, so it is going to be important to limit other team's second string's points. If Rafer's D can help do that, this can help the first unit get some more rest, while not letting the lead slide away (or the deficit grow).
It's funny, if this was done over a week ago, this miscellaneous section would have a bit more of a positive tone. As of right now, we don't know whether or not Rafer is happy here in NJ. His last public comments said that he was happy to be back "home", but recently there have been reports saying Rafer expects to be starting the season on a different team.
Now these reports have not be confirmed, and it seems it could have been just a friend mouthing off, however, there is still that doubt that now sits with us as we start the season.
Rafer's willingness to come off the bench is a big key going into this year. We have to remember he has basically been a starter since joining Houston a number of years back, and coming off the bench in a contract year might not be something he is willing to do, but if he has the right attitude, Devin and Rafer can be one of the best starting/back-up combos in the league.
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