October 5, 2010

Atlanta Trades: A Review

Are the Hawks, as currently constructed, contenders?

My first post, Atlanta Trades, and second post, Atlanta Trades Continued, suspect the answer to be no. 

Both go on to offer some pretty helpful moves Hawks' management could make, in order to improve their chances of securing a top-seed in the eastern conference. 

Using a wonderful metric (wins produced per 48 minutes to calculate wins produced), devised by Prof. David Berri of the Wages of Wins Journal, one can roughly project how a team will fare throughout the course of 82 games.

Analyzing the Trades Proposed Using the WP Metric

First trade: Jamal Crawford for Andre Iguodala 

Crawford's career WP48 (or wins produced per 48 minutes) mark is .052 (keep in mind that an average player posts a WP48 of .100, according to Berri). In contrast, Andre Iguodala's career mark is currently at .206 (well above-average). 

Now, when we calculate for wins produced, this means that Crawford, across his entire eleven year career (for the position that he plays) helped produce roughly 24 wins (23.7). Iguodala on the other hand, despite having been in the league five fewer years, has produced roughly 80 wins (79.6) for his career, more than triple the contribution of Crawford. With the latter aging, this would certainly appear to be a winning move on Atlanta's part.

Second Trade: Joe Johnson for Tyson Chandler 

Johnson entered the league in 2001, the same year Chandler did. Both ended up being selected in the first round of the draft, both ended up playing for a team that had been sub-par the season prior, and both saw limited minutes throughout their rookie campaigns. Since then, the two have played a combined 42,015 minutes, Johnson accounting for slightly more than 61% of those minutes. Yet, it's Chandler that has produced more wins, roughly 69 (68.6) to Johnson's 55 (55.4). 

So, why is that? 

Well, when we examine per-minute productivity, Johnson's career WP48 mark stands at .103. In other words, Johnson has been an average player across his nine years in the league. On the other hand, Chandler's career WP48 is at .203 (nearly double Johnson's). If we ignore the two injury plagued seasons, Chandler's WP48 jumps to .237 (more than double Johnson's), and if we look strictly at Chandler's peak production years (from fall 2003 to spring 2008) his WP48 shoots up to .273. In short, to sum all these points, Johnson has seen far more playing time (than Chandler), but because he's no where near as productive (on a per-minute basis), he's contributed fewer wins overall. 

Couple this with the fact that the Hawks would be ridding themselves of a monstrous contract, and it's certainly easy to see why Atlanta would be winners in this scenario as well.

The Wages of Wins

For more in-depth detail on the wins produced formula: 

Buy the Wages of Wins book, available at Amazon.com

October 3, 2010

Atlanta Trades Continued

In my last post, I theorized that the Hawks wouldn't be as good as last season, due to the bevvy of new teams emerging with upgraded rosters (Chicago, Miami, and even Milwaukee). Along with Boston and Orlando, the eastern conference landscape looks to change drastically for Atlanta, unless they make positive changes of their own.

Unfortunately, while a swap of Crawford for Iguodala would make the Hawks slightly better, it wouldn't be enough for them to compete for a top seed. Not to mention (that much like I stated then) Iguodala's deal is worth nearly 2.4 million dollars more than Crawford's (and runs four years), which would most likely put Atlanta over the NBA luxury tax, not only this season, but three seasons after that. 

This issue can be remedied however, if the Hawks can find a suitor for Joe Johnson's albatross of a contract. Fortunately, this may not be as difficult as some people think. 

Dallas has been looking for a top-tier shooting guard to compliment Jason Kidd with, in the back-court. And while I by no means consider Johnson a top-tier player, the general consensus, is that he is. 

Back in June, the Mavericks explored options with the Hawks to land Joe Johnson. But for the most part, they didn't have much to entice Atlanta into committing to any trades (unless they were willing to part with both Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Kidd). 

Since then though, Dallas has managed to acquire one intriguing prospect. Here's one move that could certainly benefit the Hawks (in the long run):

Trade with Dallas Mavericks

Atlanta sends swingman Joe Johnson (on or after December 15, when trade restriction expires) to Dallas, for center Tyson Chandler and guard DeShawn Stevenson. 

Why Atlanta does this? 

It's true that a deal centered around both Chandler and Beaubois, or even Chandler and Tim Thomas (for financial implications) would be better, but it's unlikely Dallas agrees to either of those deals, as scenario a) implies them being stripped of a potential replacement for Kidd, and scenario b) thins out their front-court (behind Heyward and Nowitzki, there wouldn't be very much contribution off the bench). 

It's also true that the combined contracts of Chandler and Stevenson are worth about 500,000 dollars more than Johnson's, but here are a few reasons this is actually better:

1. Chandler and Stevenson's deals expire after 2010-2011. Along with Jason Collins, Maurice Evans, Josh Powell, and Etan Thomas (and if you count the team's option on Jeff Teague) that makes eight contracts coming off the books. In short, the Hawks' pay roll at the end of 2010-2011 would be $32 million dollars, as opposed to 50 (giving them more money to re-sign key players, like Chandler, Al Horford, etc).

2. On a per-minute basis, for the position he plays, Chandler's been the more productive of the two (than Johnson). At least for the better part of their careers (as both a Bull and a Hornet). And while Chandler has been the lesser player the last two seasons, the dip in production was more likely a result of him having sustained injuries (he missed a total of 68 games the last couple years). With him back in form (and this being a contract year for Chandler), there's more than enough reason to believe he could very well get back to his old rebounding, shot-blocking, efficient-scoring self.

3. Chandler fills a need. At the moment, the Hawks are playing two of their starters out of position (Josh Smith at power forward and Al Horford at center). So, while that frontcourt might dominate against some of the league's lesser teams, it'll struggle against the bigger, more intimidating ones. With Chandler in the line-up, Horford could be slid over at the four, and Smith at the three. Considering the earlier Crawford for Iguodala trade, the starting unit could look something like this:

G Mike Bibby/Jeff Teague
G Andre Iguodala
C Tyson Chandler
F Josh Smith 
F Al Horford 

With Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans, Zaza Pachulia, DeShawn Stevenson, Marvin Williams, and either Bibby or Teague, being Atlanta's main rotation players. 

Why Dallas does this?

1. The consensus opinion on Johnson, is that he's more productive than Chandler, even though he's not. 

2. The team has a hole to fill at shooting guard, whereas they're log-jammed at center (Brendan Haywood figures to get a majority of those minutes; Chandler would be vastly overpaid for the limited role he'd be playing).

3. Johnson could actually excel in a system that would see him focus much more on rebounding, more on scoring (not to mention that he'd get the benefit of picking and popping with Kidd), and less on facilitating. He's already very adept at not conceding possessions, playing off the ball, Johnson's turnover rate could significantly decrease (making him all the more efficient).

4. As Kidd and Nowitzki get older, the Mavericks will need younger talent to surround themselves with.   

Atlanta Trades

While the off-season has proved fruitful for some teams (see Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles), far fewer organizations proved adequate in their ventures to upgrade their rosters. 

One such team is Atlanta. 

While 2009-2010 saw the Hawks manage 53-and-29 (and the eastern conference's third overall seed), the balance in the southeast division has considerably shifted in favor of Orlando's in-state rival, Miami. Factor in the Magic's domination over the Hawks the last two seasons, Chicago's free-agent acquisitions, and Andrew Bogut returning from injury in Milwaukee, and Atlanta certainly looks to struggle mightily to clinch home-court for the opening round of the play-offs.

When you consider the $123.7  million dollars a declining Joe Johnson will make over the next six-years (the contract is guaranteed through 2015-2016),  the signings of Jason Collins, Josh Powell, and Etan Thomas (three unproductive frontcourt players), and the drafting of Jordan Crawford (whose collegiate career was merely average), the Hawks don't stand to capitalize much on the improvement they've made the last few seasons. 

Here are a few suggestions for Hawks' management to mull over:

Trade with Philadelphia 76ers 

Atlanta sends guard Jamal Crawford to Philadelphia for swingman Andre Iguodala.

Why Atlanta does this? 

1. Although Crawford is a potent scorer, his career adjusted field goal mark is only .475 (the equivalent of scoring .91 points per basket attempt), not very efficient, when you realize this means he's taken nearly 1.5 more shots per game (than Iguodala) for his career, only to average .4 fewer points. 

2. His career average of 2.7 rebs in 32.4 minutes (or 4.0 rebs per 48 minutes) is beyond putrid, and if that weren't enough to depict how poor of a defender Crawford is, his lapse on the defensive end can be further illustrated by his gross inability to force turnovers (e.g., steals, offensive fouls drawn, etc). Let's not forget this nugget: Atlanta conceded 5.3 more points (per 100 possessions) with Crawford on the floor. In case you were wondering? This was the team's worst differential.

In short, outside of being able to score well, Crawford is not a very productive player. So, while Iguodala's contract puts Atlanta a little further over the luxury tax. They acquire a player capable of facilitating on offense, of forcing more turnovers, and of rebounding the basketball better, all the while getting conceivably stronger at both the shooting guard and small forward positions.

Why Philadelphia does this? 

1. The 76ers know they're not contending for a title, and aren't even entirely sure they'll make the playoffs. They're a team attempting to rebuild.

2. If management were ever completely sold on Evan Turner, they could certainly look to ship Iguodala's max contract (four years left) for one expiring.  

3. Crawford's contract is expiring. 

4. Iguodala stands to make approximately 2.4 million dollars more than Crawford.

5. This deal serves to help put the 76ers under the luxury tax.  

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