Is Evan Fournier a Free Agency Bust?

When the New York Knicks signed Evan Fournier to a 4-year/73,000,000 deal this past offseason they were likely expecting him to produce at a higher level than he has been able to through the first month of the season.

Last year, in a contract year, Fournier put up 19.7 points per game, the highest of his career to date. But after signing the 11th biggest deal this offseason (notably higher than teammate Kemba Walker who signed a 2-year deal worth the same as Fournier's average annual value) the 29-year old Shooting Guard is posting one of the lowest point totals of his career.

It's common for guys to let their foot off the gas after "getting the bag" but this seems more like a case of a bad fit rather than severe player regression. On the Knicks, Fournier finds himself in a comparable situation to the one he had post-trade deadline when the Orlando Magic shipped Fournier to the Boston Celtics for veteran Point Guard Jeff Teague.

In Boston, Fournier's usage rate took a massive drop from over 26% with the Magic to 18% with the Celtics as he was forced to play behind the likes of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. On that Celtics squad, Fournier was looked at to be a 5th or 6th option and his drop to 13 points per game during that time reflects Fournier's need to have the ball in his hands to be truly effective.

This season, Fournier's usage rate sits just above 19% as he fights for touches on a squad that features the likes of Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Kemba Walker. In PER, Fournier ranks 10th on the Knicks with a 12.46 behind the likes of Alec Burks (14.92) and Immanuel Quickley (15.36) who both seem poised to take on a bigger role in the very near future. Averaging only 6 minutes of 4th quarter action per game this season (tied with rookie Quentin Grimes) is also a heavy indictment on Fournier's early-season production. You can see highlights from Alec Burks' wild night in Houston below.

Ultimately this short sample size doesn't really give any definitive answers one way or the other but there does appear to be some cause for concern. After scoring just 19 points through 5 games, Fournier dropped 19 in 30 minutes against the Rockets only to be upstaged by the aforementioned Burks who managed to score 20 in 25 and on only 8 shots. Let's hope this spells a slight return to form for Fournier but against a Houston team that ranks last in the NBA, it's hard to say if anything was truly learned about the French Guard.

Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports