More Expansion Draft Fun: 2012-13 Draft Pool, Part 1

Hello!  My last post discussed the players I would have picked if I had been the Bobcats’s General Manager during their Expansion Draft.  Well, one thing led to another, and I decided to attempt a two-team Expansion Draft for 2012-13.  But before I can do that, I have to determine which players would be left unprotected, which I will do over a series of three posts before culminating in the actual drafts themselves, one for each draft pool.  Therefore, I am going to state my opinions, and then predict on which other player would actually be left out in the cold.  Each team can protect up to eight players, including upcoming Restricted Free Agents.  Upcoming Unrestricted Free Agents can neither be selected nor protected.  It should be noted that exactly one player from each team would be selected in the Expansion Draft.  While my verb tenses may say otherwise, this is merely a thought experiment.  I drew my conclusions using what I have heard of player evaluations, play time, Wins Produced, and Win Shares. Here are the first ten teams to be analyzed:

Atlanta (1 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Al Horford
  • Who They Should Not Protect: No One
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Ivan Johnson (Restricted Free Agent)
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Lou Williams and/or DeShawn Stevenson

Because they only have eight protectable players, they must leave one available.  This is tricky, as there are no awful contracts on this roster, as none of their players are awful, and their mediocre ones are mostly young and cheap.  Johnson, who is 29, is an average power forward who can easily look mediocre or worse as he is a Low-Usage bench player.  Losing the Right of First Refusal and handing over the proper Bird Rights is not a big deal.  However, Williams makes over $5 million for the next two seasons, and Stevenson makes half that.  Williams has trade value, and Stevenson is historically unproductive.  On the surface, neither of these like candidates, especially on a roster with Johnson, Mike Scott, and Shelvin Mack, the latter two of whom are in their mid-twenties and have “low upside”.   However, Atlanta is trying to make a run at Dwight Howard, and any lost cap space would be welcome.  I would probably go with Williams, but I considered Stevenson because Williams may be worth a future first-rounder.  Whoever is chosen will be lost, so putting any other than Horford on the chopping block would not be a bad idea, and only he, John Jenkins, and Jeff Teague would be infeasible from the team’s perspective.

Boston (6 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Fab Melo, Jordan Crawford, D.J. White, Terrence Williams
  • Who They Would Not Protect: White, Williams, Shavlik Randolph, Jason Terry, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Melo, Crawford, White, Williams, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green

Boston has a lot of good players, so guessing the last few of their decisions is hard.  I would choose to leave Pierce available because of his hefty price tag, which implies that he would not be selected, and the fact that only one Celtic will go.  Notably, Eddie Jones and Kerry Kittles were available for Charlotte, and even though I had exhibited a tendency to splurge, I did not jump for them despite advanced stats’ affinity for them.  Kevin Garnett would be in a similar situation.  I think Pierce would be safe, and Green would ultimately be taken.  Green has always been overrated, but the Celtics are one of the teams that overvalues him.  The same applies for Crawford, although I would not be surprised to see him replace Bass, Lee, or Terry on an actual list.  White, Williams, and Randolph are all late season pick-ups, and only Randolph has ever been productive in the NBA.  Unfortunately, Shavlik is the type of player who is frequently overlooked.  I think Melo is a future example of the sunk cost fallacy, but I would not blame the C’s for hanging onto him.  Lee, Bass, and Terry are all productive but slightly overpriced, although Lee is probably underrated.  I also think that Avery Bradley is overrated, but Green is more so.  To put it simply, this was hard.

Brooklyn (4 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Reggie Evans
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Tyshawn Taylor, Kris Joseph
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Wallace, Taylor, Joseph, Kris Humphries
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Johnson, Wallace, Taylor, Joseph

Because the Nets have both a lot of overpriced and ineffective players, this was much easier.  Johnson is below-average, 32, and paid like a star.  I do not think they would leave him unprotected because they have cheap, young, bad players who are typical candidates.  While I considered leaving Williams and Lopez, they have not quite but almost-deserved reputations as star players and could be snatched up.  Wallace has declined and is on the wrong side of 30.  I would say that Brooklyn was just a bad fit except that I have heard that has game relied heavily on his athleticism, which is what Bill James would call a “young man’s skill”.  Wallace ain’t young no more.  Kris Humphries has a reputation for being one of the biggest albatrosses around, so it is a no-brainer that he would be put up for sale.  Taylor played absolutely awfully this season, and Joseph was average in the D-League.  Joseph could be replaced by Tornike Shengelia, but the Shengelia is two years his junior and played at a star level down in the minors.  I would not be shocked to see Mirza Teletovic replace Wallace, but he is much cheaper and I think that Prokhorov likes him.

Charlotte (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Gordon, Thomas
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Gordon, Thomas

This is easy; Gordon and Thomas might just be the two worst contracts in the NBA.

Chicago (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Carlos Boozer, Richard Hamilton
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Boozer, Malcolm Thomas
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Boozer, Hamilton

For some reason, people still think that Rip has value.  I don’t think that he ever really did, or at least not since he turned 30, which was a long time ago.  Boozer is an Amnesty candidate; Malcolm Thomas is treated as a quadruple-A player, although he was really good two years ago in the D-League.  He hasn’t had many minutes at either level since then.  I would also consider leaving Marquis Teague on the market and just amnestying Boozer.

Cleveland (3 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Anderson Varejao, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson
  • Who They Should Not Protect: None
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Kevin Jones, Chris Quinn, Omri Casspi (Restricted)
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles, Quinn

Jones was mediocre this year but had a solid rookie projection.  Quinn played great in the D-League but is 30.  I have been rooting for Casspi ever since I read about him in Sports Illustrated when he was a rookie, but he only played 500 minutes and it costs the Cavs nothing if they let him go.  Originally, I had Marreese Speights and Miles under “Should Not Protect”, but their Win Shares numbers were better than I had anticipated, as I usually look at Wins Produced.  Gee played well last year, but Wins Produced had him as a shooting guard, which inflated his numbers and, consequently, my opinion of him.  I think that Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller have trade value, which is why I would hold onto them.

Dallas (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: No One
  • Who They Should Not Protect: O.J. Mayo, Jared Cunningham, Josh Akognon
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Akognon, Bernard James, Darren Collison (Restricted)
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Mayo, Cunningham, Akognon

I don’t think that the Mavs should waste a Protection slot on Mayo because he is almost definitely going to opt out, and Cunningham played terribly in his stint in the D-League.  Akognon played in China, but he is 27, has little history, is a chucker, and…just no.  James is a great story and productive, but he is a 28-year old second-year player…I don’t think Cuban will keep the military veteran around.  Collison was benched in favor of an ancient Mike James this season for some unknown reason, which will also be influential.  I am very confident that I would have guessed correctly.

Denver (Edit: 6 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Kosta Koufos, Kenneth Faried
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Andre Iguodala
  • Who They Would Not Protect: JaVale McGee, Anthony Randolph, Jordan Hamilton, Quincy Miller, Julyan Stone (Restricted), (Edit: Timofey Mozgov (restricted))
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Randolph, Miller, Stone (restricted), (Edit: Timofey Mozgov (restricted))

I sort of surprised myself with my “I Would Not Protect” section, but let me explain.  Iguodala has all but exercised his Early Termination Option, which means that he is leaving anyway, and the expansion teams are less likely to pick him up.  Wilson Chandler is actually pretty decent for a small forward, and while overpriced, is much cheaper and not much weaker than Gallo.  Randolph, while possessing gobs of potential, will probably not get played much and has “awful feel for the game”, according to Julien Rodger, among others.  Miller was mediocre in the D-League, while Stone would not get picked and should sign his Qualifying Offer.  In my scenario, I would lose Gallinari, but I would figure something out.  However, McGee and Hamilton would replace my “shocks” because they both have been underplayed; McGee has a rep as a headcase; Hamilton must not work hard in practice or something.  I never even considered Evan Fournier; his Win Shares are good, he’s only 21, and he has lots of “potential”.  For once, I believe it, as he is a slasher who is probably still becoming accustomed to the NBA.

Detroit (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Charlie Villanueva
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Villanueva, Viacheslav Kravtsov
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey

Greg Monroe struggled a little bit last year, but I think that players sometimes just have done years, and that Monroe had one last year.  Drummond looks like Shaq.  Villanueva has been discussed for amnesties.  For the second slot, I considered Kim English, Khris Middleton, and  Kravtsov for my guesses, and Kravtsov is the oldest, most expensive, and least-played.  He was also the most productive.  I would not protect Stuckey because he is expensive and mediocre, and he would be more likely to be selected than the man Kevin Garnett once dubbed a “cancer”.

Golden St. (6 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Stephen Curry
  • Who They Should Absolutely Not Protect: Richard Jeferson, Andris Biedrins, Kent Bazemore, Dwayne Jones
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Jefferson, Biedrins, Bazemore, Jones, Draymond Green, Scott Machado
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Jefferson, Biedrins, Bazemore, Jones, Green, Andrew Bogut or David Lee (but not both)

There is nobody who follows the NBA who would say that Jefferson and Biedrins do not have albatross contracts.  Jones, Green, and Machado were all late season pick-ups; the only reason that I am would leave Machado protected is that he had a really good Wages of Wins projections.  Bazemore seldom played and was terrible when he did.  Green cannot shoot.  Now, for the big ones.  The Warriors are in the hunt for Dwight Howard.  While their means of acquisition would be a sign-and-trade for Bogut and others, having one selected in an Expansion Draft would free up cap space to make their end of the deal more flexible; they no longer have to perfectly match salaries because they are not brushing up against the apron, $4 million above the tax, which becomes a hard cap the second they sign the sign-and-trade.  They know this would be freed up because no team would miss a chance to snag Bogut or Lee.  I would probably Lee toward Lee because he is a terrible defender, and Bogut is younger and would be used to trade for Howard if he chooses to hop from LA to San Fran.

To be continued…

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