We've heard a lot from Paxson and evaluators about the defensive ability of John Salmons. We know he's a tall guard, and certainly has the tools to defend. But many do. We also know that (for whatever reason) his adjusted +/- is pretty terrible.
Salmons is a good (maybe better than good) man defender on the perimeter. He shut down Michael Redd during a vital fourth quarter a few months ago, and honestly defends Kobe more efficiently than Ron Artest ever did. He has good lateral quickness, which allows him to prevent quicker guards and wings from blowing by him to the rim. He's usually the King who ends up on Steve Nash duty.But his team defense blows. At least it has this season, as the Kings are the worst defense in the league. He hasn't been particularly interested in rotating into the lane to challenge whoever is driving past Beno Udrih or Kevin Martin, he makes a concerted effort to hit the defensive glass one out of four games, he doesn't play the passing lanes at all. He's not a roamer, and his man rarely gets an open look off ball movement. But sometimes you want your small forward to help out on defense. Unless playing for a competitive team changes something within him (that's questionable) or Vinny Del Negro sparks him, it's not likely to happen. This will be muted if he indeed plays the two-guard, and especially if he plays next to Luol Deng.
On a supposed ball movement team, only 45% of Salmons' jumpers come off assists. If you think that says more about Beno Udrih and Derrick Rose, I'd note that this has been ongoing since at least 2005-06, with the halycon days of Chris Duhon and Mike Bibby showing the same pattern. So Salmons will take jumpers -- a lot of them. But they have tended to come on his own terms, with his own shot creation. I don't remember too much of Artest's time in Chicago, but if you have watched him in Sacramento or Houston, you'll have seen Salmons' game: dribble, pull up, jump shot. His favorite move is a controlled crossover to get him to about 18 feet, where he'll pull up (with his head cocked to the left; don't worry, he shoots better that way). His shot is smooth and efficient, but he can/will single-handedly kill the flow at times. At the same time, he can disappear on offense for spurts, which might be a good thing, depending on how Rose and the forwards are doing.On penetration, Salmons is a really crafty finisher and a decent passer. He switches hands a lot at the rim, and that infuriates defenders, which is fun/funny. He's strong and absorbs contact without flinching (like Joe Johnson), so don't expect a high free throw rate.His entry passes into the post are among the softest you will ever see. Good for one turnover or broken play a week, guaranteed.In Sacramento, he always played much, much better when starting and playing major minutes than coming off the bench. I think the real issue with him is being able to play extending stints and being allowed to control the ball a bit. In a Manu Ginobili type bench role, he'd be as good as he is as a starter. But if he's backing up Gordon/Deng and playing four minutes here, six minutes there, he won't likely be as effective.