The Top Ten Wingmen in the PBA (heading into the 2013-2014 season)

A new PBA season is upon us, and with it comes renewed passion for the game all Pinoys love. Over the offseason, I have come to wonder about one thing – who are the best pro players we have right now? It’s a question that has been asked and answered many times already -- by many people, in many different times, in many different places, and using many different metrics (or no metrics at all).

Here’s my feeble take on the whole thing – a three-part series revolving around the best performers of the past season and how they might do in this new one. In this second part, I will focus on the wingmen of the PBA. These are the guys who play either/both small forward and/or shooting guard for their respective teams.

Now, one peculiar thing about PBA wingmen is that they come in a WIDE range of sizes and skill-sets. For example, we have Danny Seigle, a 6’7 Fil-Am who can play both perimeter positions, and Willie Miller, a 5’11 Pampangueño combo-guard. We have Air21 SF KG Cañaleta, who played center in college, and Alaska’s Calvin Abueva, another Pampagueño who has the skills to play pretty much all five spots.

Please take note that this list is based purely on the Efficiency Ratings for the entire 2012-2013 PBA season as calculated by Also, I won’t be taking the rookies into account yet, so don’t look for guys like James Forrester, Alex Nuyles, and Jeric Teng.

And now, without further ado, here are the Top Ten Wingmen in the PBA (heading into the 2013-2014 season):

El Granada, Big Game James, Jeff Chan, and The Spark
are all on this list. Who else joins them?
(composite image by Enzo Flojo/Hoop Nut)

10. Jeff Chan (ROS) – 11.9ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.6apg, 1.2 triples per game, 74.5 FT%, 25.97 EFF
- Chan’s production took a dip in 2012-2013, perhaps because his being a part of Gilas took its toll on the former FEU sniper. Chan still averaged pretty good numbers, mind you, but his scoring and overall shooting nosedived a bit.  He did try and compensate with better rebounding and assists totals, though. Overall Chan remains one of the best shooting guards in the league, and he will definitely be an integral part of Gilas’s drive in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. He actually also did really well in the Painters’ first game of the season, draining 4 triples on his way to 17 points.

9. PJ Simon (SMC) – 12.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.3apg, 32.1 3pt%, 76.7 FT%, 26.01 EFF
- PJ Simon is the most perfect back-up SG, simply because, frankly speaking, there is hardly any dip in production between him and the next guy on this list, James Yap. Simon isn’t as streaky as Yap, but he seems to be a bit more consistent, a bit more reliable. And, I mean, Simon is just money off the pine. Where else can you find a back-up scoring nearly 13 points per game? He’s clearly one of the most underrated players in the league, and, I daresay, he might even be a bigger star if he were on another team (hello, PBA expansion, let’s do this). When Simon returns from injury, look for him to boost the Mixers’ depth in the backcourt.

8. James Yap (SMC) – 13.3ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.6apg, 1.3 triples per game, 26.19 EFF
- Yap is one of the poster boys of the PBA (he definitely is one of its most sought-after endorsers), but a quick glance at his career stats reveals that, in fact, his production has been dipping steadily since 2010-2011. The former UE Red Warrior hasn’t scored this low since his rookie season, and, again, his 29% shooting clip from long distance is among the worst in his storied career. Here’s another troubling fact, too – he shot just 64% from the line last season, which is his lowest clip ever.  All in all, I think Yap still belongs in the upper echelon of PBA snipers, but don’t be surprised if his scoring sprees come few and far between this season.

7. Marcio Lassiter (PET) – 12.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.0apg, 2.0 triples per game, 45.3 3pt%, 26.37 EFF
- As good as Lassiter was for Petron last season, we have to remember that his rookie year was even more spectacular. This was the guy who normed 17 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, and more than 1 steal in his maiden PBA year. Of course, one major factor that contributed to Lassiter’s “sophomore slump” was the nine fewer minutes he played per game. From being one of the main guys on Powerade in 2011-2012, Lassiter became “just another scoring option” for the Boosters. What’s worse is that the guy who plays behind him, Chris Lutz, is pretty much a carbon copy wingman. Does this mean Lassiter is bound to have another lukewarm season in Petron blue? Maybe not, especially after he top-scored in the Boosters’s opening game triumph over the Batang Pier – he hit 4 treys and totaled 18 points.

6. Danny Seigle (???) – 11.8ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.3apg, 27.12 EFF
- Yes, one of the league’s best wingmen is presently unemployed. It’s a travesty, I tell you. I mean, as a 36-37-year old guy who once went down with a tragic ACL tear, Seigle still impressed last season. Surely, he’s no longer as explosive as he once was, but one look at that superb double-ankle-breaker against Ginebra should make any basketball fan see that this old man still can. After Barako Bull dropped Seigle (Why, you ask? Who the hell knows?), it was rumored he’d be shipped to another San Miguel squad, and then maybe to Talk N Text, and then now he’s back in limbo. Man, I just hope I get to see him play again, you know? I hope he doesn’t follow his kuya’s footsteps and just go back to the States. He’s a baller of the best kind. If not in the PBA, then maybe in the ABL?

5. Cyrus Baguio (ALA) – 13.4ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.7apg, 1.0spg, 1.2 triples per game, 40.4 3pt%, 28.84 EFF
- One might  have thought Baguio’s production would go south after Alaska’s acquisition of Calvin Abueva, right? Only that didn’t happen. Instead of his game significantly suffering, Baguio remained super solid throughout last season, even helping the Aces win the Commish Cup. His efficiency rating from last season is actually the third-highest in his career, and, after all these years, the former King Tiger still looks very sharp. He is known for his athleticism and explosiveness, but one thing has been doing quite well recently (although he doesn’t get much press for it) is that he is a potential lights-out shooter. Baguio hit more than 40% of his threes last season, making better than one per outing. Expect him to continue having a strong showing for the Aces this year.

4. KG Cañaleta (AIR) – 16.7ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.3apg, 2.6 triples per game, 36.9 3pt%, 30.67 EFF
- It’s no wonder Cañaleta was named the PBA’s Most Improved Player last season. I mean, this guy had a heckuva year – just look at those numbers! It was, by far, the best season in his career, and it shouldn’t really come as a surprise if he remains one of the league’s deadliest stretch-forwards. It’s actually funny to think of Cañaleta as a wingman, since he primarily played center before turning pro. Right now, though, the former UE big man plies his trade mostly around the perimeter, eschewing the low post game for sweet-looking jump shots and pull-ups. I am so excited for the kind of season everyone expects him to have, but the addition of Joseph Yeo and Mac Cardona to the Air21 roster worries me a bit. Those two just aren’t known for their passing game, and I fear KG might not have as many touches as he had last season.

3. Gary David (MER) – 18.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.9 triples per game, 84.9 FT%, 30.82 EFF
- El Granada is still, hands down, one of the purest shooters not just in the country, but in the entire continent. Need proof? Just ask the Kazakhs, who were burned by David for four three-pointers in that quarterfinal rout in the 2013 FIBA Asia tourney. This past season David’s scoring dropped from the career-high 25.8ppg he posted in 2011-2012, but his nearly 19 points per outing still stands as one of the best in the pro circuit. His three-point percentage also slid down sharply (from 36% in 2011-2012 to 30% last season), but perhaps that can be attributed to tighter defense from his opponents and the fact that he tried to diversify his game by being more aggressive going to the basket. Of course, he didn’t exactly have fresh legs often because of his multiple stints with Gilas. Now that David is with the Bolts, I don’t see his production dipping. In fact, I would venture to think he will be Meralco’s top scorer this season. In the Bolts’ first game, in fact, David unloaded 26 points on the Texters, although he did hit just 1 of his 8 three-point attempts.

2. Calvin Abueva (ALA) – 12.3ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.8apg, 31.63 EFF
- Nobody outside of the Alaska fanbase really likes Abueva (that’s putting it mildly, you know), but his game sure is something to behold. Yes, his opposition-directed antics will surely irk anyone and everyone, but, hey, that’s just part of his character as a basketball player. That’s where he draws his strength, and that’s what makes him so special. For a significant chunk of last season, people debated whether this kid (a 25-year old kid, mind you) was deserving to be in the MVP conversation. That alone is an accolade any rookie would die to have. In addition to that, though, Abueva halped the Aces bag their first conference title in a while (and very first after Tim Cone jumped ship). It was, indeed, a memorable year for everyone’s fave on-court heel, and this season should give us more reasons to talk about him and, well, jeer him.

1. Mark Caguioa (GIN) – 17.2ppg, 4.5rpg, 2.6apg, 1.0 triples per game, 31.96 EFF
- Yes, Mark the Spark is still the PBA’s best (read: most productive) wingman. Some people might say he plays point for the Kings, but, hey, with Tenorio there, who in his right mind would put Caguioa at PG? And, let’s face it, his skill-set is really for a two-guard – a very effective two-guard. Think Kemba Walker or Allen Iverson. Caguioa had his best scoring season in 2012-2013 since scoring nearly 20 per game in 2007-2008, and I am sure he’s only going to try harder this season now that his team just got bigger and deeper. Look for him to get really motivated to put the Gin Kings back on top of the heap. Of course, he will have to do much better than the 2 points on 0/4 FG shooting he put up against the Mixers last weekend.

Outside looking in:
Larry Fonacier (TNT) – 25.83 EFF
Mac Cardona (AIR) – 25.62 EFF
Willie Miller (BAR) – 25.44 EFF
Gabe Norwood (ROS) – 24.36 EFF
Chris Lutz (PET) – 23.46 EFF

Promising Rookie wings:
James Forrester (GIN)
Ryan Buenafe (ALA)
Alex Nuyles (ROS)
Nico Salva (GLO)
Jeric Teng (ROS)

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