More Expansion Draft Fun: 2012-13 Draft Pool, Part 3

This is the final installment where I set my draft pools for my theoretical expansion drafts.  Enjoy:

Oklahoma City (3 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka
  • Who They Should Absolutely Not Protect: Kendrick Perkins
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Perkins, Daniel Orton, Perry Jones
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Perkins, Hasheem Thabeet, Orton

If the Thunder had amnestied Perkins last season, maybe James Harden would not have landed in Houston’s lap.  I really don’t know, but the verdict here is that it has been a while since Perkins has been solid, and there are very few elite centers left.  Guarding elite centers is basically Perkins’s purpose in this league.  Orton and Jones were great but far from otherworldly in the D-League, whereas Lamb was, hence their inclusion on my lists.  Of course, Jones “runs like a dear”, so I think foul-magnet but reliable back-up Thabeet would be thrown to the wolves.  Or the grizzly bears.  (Could not help myself with that beyond-awful joke.)

Orlando (5 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Mo Harkelss, Nikola Vucevic
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Al Harrington, Glen Davis
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Turkoglu, Nelson, Harrington, Davis, DeQuan Jones (restricted)
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Turkoglu, Harrington, Jones (restricted), E’Twaun Moore, Doron Lamb

The fact that Hedo and Harrington were more or less glued to the bench last season implies that the Magic are none too fond of them.  That is good for them, as they have not shown that they merit much play time. Neither has Davis and Nelson, although Nelson was at least been mediocre, but those guys play a lot, and the Magic have no better alternative at point guard.  I threw Jones on my list partly as bait because he is a zero wins-level player who is also a Restricted Free Agent.  Nice story-I don’t think he could even start for the U-but ultimately not a great NBA player.  Moore and Lamb are recent second-round picks who have not played well and are cheap.

Philadelphia (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Arnett Moultrie (maybe)
  • Who They Should Not Protect: No One
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Evan Turner, Kwame Brown
  •  Who They Would Not Protect: Brown, Charles Jenkins (restricted)

In fairly limited minutes, Moultrie played really well last season, as in, comparable to Anthony Davis.  Sooner or later, every team has to give up on every player, and I think that it’s high time that the Sixers do that Evan Turner, as his advanced stats have actually regressed over the course of his career.  Brown is actually not a bad back-up center when he is healthy; the problem is that he has played exactly 31 games in the two past seasons.  Jenkins was a low-risk, lower-upside trade acquisition this year at the trade deadline, and he is a subzero future Restricted Free Agent.

Phoenix (5 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: No One
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Channing Frye, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Frye, Beasley, Scola, Kendall Marshall,  Diante Garrett (restricted)
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Frye, Marshall, Garrett (restricted), Hamed Haddadi, random guess that is probably a Morris twin but may be Shannon Brown

Channing Frye literally did not play this season, yet he has presumably two years and $13.2M left on his contract.  I say “presumably” because the second year is a Player Option, and if he were his team, I would strongly suggest that he not pick it up.  Beasley’s contract is so stunningly awful-$6M/year for a cancer on a rebuilding team-that it makes analysts want to pluck their eyeballs out.  Of course, I don’t think the Suns realize this; otherwise, they probably would have never considered it, even in jest.  When someone is amnestied by the Rockets, it should probably tell one something.  Not the Suns with Scola, who played passably this year, but he is 33 and due $4.5M next year.  During last year’s draft, there were literally ESPN analysts who wondered whether Marshall could ever be a starting point guard, let alone a great one.  My memory might deceive me, but I think that some struggled to believe that he would become a decent back-up point guard.  Considering that he was a subzero player in nine D-League games this season, I would say that was a pretty correct assumption.  Garrett is a similar case, except that he was an undrafted free agent who excelled in a short D-League stint but absolutely tanked in the Association.  Of course, Haddadi is cheap and almost as ineffective as the rest, as well as older than Beas to boot.  I really have no idea who the Suns would jettison fifth; in my actual draft, I think I will settle on Markieff Morris, as he was roughly equivalent to his brother, but they didn’t have to spend a draft pick this February to get him.

Portland (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Nicolas Batum
  • Who They Should Not Protect: No One
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Joel Freeland, Sasha Pavlovic
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Freeland, Victor Claver

Damian Lillard did not make my “Absolutely” list because advanced stats are not impressed with him all that much.  Freeland and Claver were European imports in their mid-twenties who did not pan out, Freeland somewhat less predictably.  I am honestly surprised that Pavlovic has managed to remain in the league this long; like Sebastian Telfair, he has never played particularly well yet always manages to secure a low-level contract.  He must be, like, a magician or something.  I dunno.

Sacramento (4 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Their owners-from angry Sonics and Kings fans
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Everybody else, except for maybe Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans (restricted)
  • Who I Would Not Protect: John Salmons, Jason Thompson, Travis Outlaw, James Johnson (restricted)
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Salmons, Outlaw, Johnson (restricted), Jimmer Fredette

The Sacramento Kings’s front office has been horrific in recent years.  Even when they think they sign a bona fide star, like “Boogie” Cousins or Tyreke Evans, it blows up in their face like a Molotov cocktail, although I will admit that Evans legitimately broke out last season, hence his status off of the “Should Not” list.  Salmons and Fredette in the same trade.  I would have rather had the pieces they surrendered; Beno Udrih and Bismack Biyombo, whose name makes me think “Big Smack” and who is purportedly six years, six months, and three days young than The Jimmer.  Of course, the BYU man can shoot a mean three; it’s everything else that’s bothersome.  But I wouldn’t turn him over to the king.  I think that the Thompson contract, $30M for a mediocre power forward, is just absolutely insane now, although it was more defensible a year ago when it looked like he had become a solidly above-average player.  Everyone, say, “Hi,” to Regression to the Mean; he may be annoying, but he isn’t going away anytime soon.  Outlaw is in the same camp as Pavlovic from the previous segment, only this guy gets the big bucks.  James Johnson also did not pan out necessarily, although he has produced in some seasons.  I considered future RFA Toney Douglas, but he has more value to the team and on the court than these other guys.

San Antonio (4 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Unfortunately, Just About Everybody
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Gary Neal (restricted)
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Neal (restricted), Matt Bonner, Nando De Colo, Patrick Mills
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Bonner, De Colo, Mills, Aron Baynes

This Spurs squad is the polar opposite of the Sacramento one.  There is literally not a bad contract on the books, and Parker and Duncan have insanely good contracts-although I am still fuming over some of the poor decisions Parker made on Tuesday in Game 6.  (When the Lakers are out, give the Spurs a shout!)  The four guys I picked are all solid players whose defensive capabilities leave something to be desired.  Neal screams “Irrational Confidence Guy” to me-think Jamal Crawford or J.R. Smith-and I’m none too fond of those.  In fact, I would rather take a low-usage player with comparable analytic s over an Irrational Confidence Guy, and numbers and game-watching alike prove that Neal has these tendencies, which is sort of a shame, because he could be even better if he didn’t unnecessarily force stuff so darn much.  The New Zealand-born Aussie Baynes struggled mightily in limited minutes after coming from Slovenia midseason, but I neglected to put him on the “I Would Not” list because he tore up the D-League and because I have a semi-irrational obsession with bringing European players across the Atlantic.  Free Bo McCalebb!  Free Kostas Papanikolaou!  Sorry; I got off on a tangent there.

Toronto (4 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani, Linas Kleiza,
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Gay, Bargnani, Kleiza, DeMar DeRozan
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Bargnani, Kleiza, Aaron Gray, John Lucas

Masai Ujiri’s attempts to rid Canada of the scourge of The Bargs are well-known.  I do not think that he would not get rid of The Italian for nothing, but I also do not think that frogs will fall from the sky, and thermonuclear war is far from inevitable because while we are destructive, we are not that destructive.  (Of course, that didn’t stop from having a semi-nightmare about the latter last night.)  Kleiza is in the same boat, except that he costs just a little over 40% as much, he was productive before he took a jaunt in Europe (correlation: unknown), and I don’t think anyone has misguided opinions from the Missouri grad who has represented Lithuania 51 times.  Unfortunately for Raptors fan, I don’t think that The Great and Powerful Ujiri is quite ready to let Rudy go.  Aaron Gray and John Lucas are guys who have hung around but not whacked anyone with a 2×4, although I believe that Lucas is also an Irrational Confidence Guy.  DeRozan is not a bad player and not a bad guy, but do you really want to pay $9.5M each year for four years for inefficient wing scoring on this team?  [Stifles urge to make joke]  One of them will be booted off the island for sure, and Torontans should be weeping that this is not actually going to happen.

Utah (1 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: No One
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Kevin Murphy
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Murphy
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Jerel McNeal

If they had multiple spots to leave unguarded, I would go with Marvin Williams, as he just never seemed to mesh in Utah and is underrated, but they don’t, so I won’t.  Murphy, whose Arturo projection was just stunningly awful, played less than mediocre…in the D-League, whereas McNeal was solidly above-average.  Of course, the Jazz invested in a few grand in McNeal and a draft pick in Murphy-guess which one they’ll keep.  Yay Sunk Costs!

Washington (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutlely Protect: No One
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Nene, Kevin Seraphin
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Nene, Seraphin
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Seraphin, Jan Vesely

It is offical; the Wizards are not stupid because they benched Vesely and Seraphin almost completely in the second half of the season.  I don’t mind keeping Vesely around because of Nene’s $13M bill for the next 3 seasons, considering that the Brazilian is 31, average, and injury-prone, Vesely does not look so bad.  Seraphin, though, is swimming in the depths of Bargnani territory.  That is not good.


So, finally, I am done setting my draft pools.  Where there is uncertainty, I will confirm my decisions during the draft posts themselves.  I hope that you have enjoyed this series of posts thus far, and that you will come back to complete the reading of this five-post segment.  And so I sign off with thank you for reading, please comment, and please come back.



More Expansion Draft Fun: 2012-13 Draft Pool, Part 2

I’m back, with analysis for ten more teams on the way.  My previous post discusses the specifics of the exercise, and you can click over to it at the bottom of this post.   Here we go with Part 2 of setting the draft pools:

Houston (6 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Greg Smith, Patrick Beverley
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Francisco Garcia, Aaron Brooks
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Garcia, Brooks, Royce White, Tim Ohlbrecht, Thomas Robinson, Carlos Delfino
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Garcia, Brooks, White, Ohlbrecht, Delfino, Jeremy Lin

Once I got past Garcia, Brooks, and Ohlbrecht, the latter two of whom played a combined total of fifty regular season minutes for Houston last year, the guesses got really hard.  As much as I think Daryl Morey likes White’s potential, I am also pretty sure that he is sick and tired of all his antics.  They have been trying to shop Robinson for a draft pick, and having him be picked rather than one of their other solid players would not be a horrible concession.  Garcia is just overpriced and his advanced stats are mediocre.  While Delfino is a solid player, I just think that this team has so many shooters, and the fact that only Garcia on this team is older than him (by about eight months) would leave him as the odd man out.  I think that Houston would and should absolutely protect the four I listed above, as well as Terrence Jones, because all except for Harden are really cheap, they are all solidly above-average, and none of them are older than 25.  I would leave Lin available because of the presence of Beverley and the fact that Harden is so ball-dominant and so much more productive,  I considered leave Donatas Motiejunas available rather than Delfino, but I really just think that he was misused as a shooter, as he shot 57% from inside the arc and 29% outside it, yet took over a third of his attempts from range.  Plus, I really like his name.

Indiana (4 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Roy Hibbert, George Hill, Paul George, Lance Stephenson
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Danny Granger, Ian Mahinmi, Gerald Green
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Granger, Mahinmi, Green, Miles Plumlee
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Mahinmi, Green, Plumlee, Ben Hansbrough (restricted)

I think that Danny Granger is overpriced and in the Antoine Walker/Allan Houston realm of overpriced scorers who are left unprotected because they are paid so much that they will not be picked.  Mahinmi and Green had bad years last year, although the French center’s was somewhat uncharacteristic, and Hansbrough did not produce.  I put Hibbert on my “Absolutely” list even though he only has one good really good season analytics-wise (the lockout year) because of his prodigious interior defense.  Orlando Johnson could have conceivably found his way onto the “They Would Not” list, but I think that Green’s reputation has soured once again to the point that the Pacers recognize his lack of production.

Clippers (1 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Bake Griffin, Eric Bledsoe
  • Who They Should Not Protect: No One
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Caron Butler
  • Who They Would Not Protect: DaJuan Summers

I would leave Butler because he is old, not great, expensive, and having little trade value.  They would leave Summers because when he played, he has been below subpar.  I was very surprised to learn that the Clippers only have eight players under contract for next year.  This should be a very interesting team to watch beyond the Chris Paul saga.

Lakers (4 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: No One
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Steve Blake
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Bryant, Gasol, Peace, Blake
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Peace, Blake, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks (restricted)

Nobody would pick Bryant and Gasol, but if they did, it would be a major salary cap relief.  Peace and Blake are overpriced and have been amnesty candidates.  Duhon fell out of Mike D’Antoni’s rotation, while Ebanks has never been in any rotation.  Unfortunately, the Lakers’s front office seems to like Darius Morris, and Andrew Goudelock impressed in the play-offs despite an abysmal performance last year.

Memphis ((Edit: 3) Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Ed Davis
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Darrell Arthur
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Arthur, Tony Wroten, (Edit: Jon Leuer (restricted))
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Wroten, (Edit: Leuer (restricted)), Austin Daye (restricted)

Tony Wroten did not play well last year, and I seem to remember that his reputation is not squeaky clean.  Arthur seems to be a Stretch 4 made of of paper, but he was inexplicably  the third big ahead of Davis, who is uber-cheap and uber-efficient.  Daye finally played productively for once, but he also was pinned to the bench.

Miami (5 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade
  • Who They Should Not Protect: James Jones, Norris Cole, Rashard Lewis, Jarvis Varnado
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Jones, Cole, Lewis, Varnado, Mike Miller
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Jones, Lewis, Varnado, Miller, Joel Anthony

Except for Miller and Anthony, all of these guys are cheap scrubs.  Miller has run the gamut with his injury history while being paid $6.2M annually, while Anthony rode the pine this year.  Norris Cole and his flattop have broken out this postseason, but I’m still not big on him-relatively small sample size and all that jazz.

(Edit: Accidentally forgot Milwaukee.  This was not a shot at Bucks fans, just a simple error.)

Milwaukee (2 Unprotected)

  • Who They Should Absolutely Protect: Larry Sanders
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Monta Ellis, Drew Gooden
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Ellis, Gooden
  • Who They Wood Not Protect: Gooden, Gustavo Ayon

Sanders is a beast.  Monta Ellis is a chucker, although he is slightly better than I imagined.  Unfortunately for Bucks fans, the team offered him a 3-year, $36M extension, which he turned down.  He had better hope someone else offers him a big fat check.  Needless to say, Milwaukee wants to keep him.  I am honestly surprised that Gooden has not been amnestied by someone yet, as his skills have evaporated faster than rainwater in a desert.  Ayon and Ish Smith were acquired in the J.J. Redick trade, and while the former can actually ball, Smith costs two-thirds as much and is three years younger.

Minnesota (4 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Kevin Love, Andrei Kirilenko
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Derrick Williams, Jose Barea, Alexey Shved
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Williams, Barea, Shved, Greg Stiemsma
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Williams, Stiemsma, Malcolm Lee, Chris Johnson

While Shved was a good signing, he was not a good acquisition, insofar as he has not panned out as hoped, in part because of an inability to shoot efficiently.  Williams has been given up on, and I don’t blame the T’Wolves.  Lee and Johnson play little, so I guess….People remember Barea for his exploits with Dallas, which led to a massive, undeserved paycheck, but I think that Minnesota’s front office is still aboard the ship headed for Puerto Rico.  Keeping Shved around is more than defensible, though.

New Orleans (3 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Anthony Davis
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Eric Gordon, Jason Smith, Austin Rivers
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Gordon, Smith, Rivers
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Smith, Lance Thomas, Terrel Harris

The fact that Eric Gordon is overrated is irrelevant when you consider his injury history and salary.  That alone is enough to justify feeding him to the wolves.  He would be an awesome risk for an expansion team, but I think that the media will see him as another Brandon Roy-which would be more than a little generous.  Smith has a reputation as a good back-up center, but alas, he is not, as he takes way too many jumpers.  That being said, he is good from mid-range, but that is just not efficient for a center, especially considering his relatively anemic rebounding rate.  Harris is a scrub, but the Hornets have more expensive fish to fry in my opinion, hence the inclusion of the baffling Austin Rivers.   Analytics like Lance Thomas, but his minutes paled in comparison to Al-Farouq Aminu’s, and the Wake Forest grad actually had his rookie option declined, which is really kind of strange.

New York (3 Unprotected)

  • Who I Would Absolutely Protect: Tyson Chandler
  • Who They Should Not Protect: Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire
  • Who I Would Not Protect: Anthony, Stoudemire, Marcus Camby
  • Who They Would Not Protect: Stoudemire, Camby, James White

The Knickerbockers have been trying to rid themselves of Amar’e for several years now, and I don’t blame them with his humongous salary and far-from-jaw-dropping production.  I differ with Melo, as I think he is overpriced (it is obvious that I learn more toward Wins Produced) and a team-killer.  Camby was really good two years ago with Portland and Houston, but he was not as good in limited minutes in the Big Apple, a phenomenon I think partly caused by injury, advanced age, and sitting on the bench.  Like Jeremy Evans, James White is a phenomenal dunker; unlike Evans, he does not appear to be a diamond in the rough, so I can see the Knicks going that route.

To be continued…

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…

I’m Back with What I Would Have Done During Charlotte’s Expansion Draft

I apologize for having not posted for over a month.  I have had some ideas on tap, but I just haven’t done anything with them, and I have been lazy and busy.  Furthermore, I am still waiting on The Wages of Wins’s Arturo Galletti to post his new draft model so I can see who is projected to be good.  Anyway, while working on a project entirely unrelated to this blog, I came across the 2004-05 expansion Charlotte Bobcats, who won a grand total of 18 games despite having Gerald Wallace, a rookie Emeka Okafor, an old Steve Smith, Brevin Knight, and a productive Jason Hart on their team.  (Notice that the latter two were both point guards.)  They did poorly, however, because of the presence of Kareem Rush, Melvin Ely, Jason Kapono, Keith Bogans before he was good, and a careening Jahidi White.  This gave me the idea to try to create the best Bobcats team possible.  In an old forum of some sort, I looked up all of eligible players and the Draft rules, and put their information including Wins Produced and Win Shares in a spreadsheet.  I then proceeded to pick my team.  Here were the rules, copied from the Bobcats’s website:

A. Player Selection

  • The Charlotte Bobcats Expansion Draft will take place on June 22 (if the NBA Finals extend to seven games, it will be June 23), prior to the 2004 NBA Draft on June 24.
  • The Bobcats will select a minimum of 14 players who are under contract or restricted free agents for the 2004-05 season.
  • The Bobcats may select no more than one player from each team.
  • The Bobcats can only select players that are left unprotected by an NBA team.
  • Each of the 29 NBA teams may protect a maximum of eight players on its roster who are under contract or are restricted free agents at the conclusion of the 2003-04 season.
  • Each of the 29 NBA teams will designate the players on its roster who are eligible for selection by the Bobcats.
  • Each of the 29 NBA teams must designate at least one player on its roster to be eligible for selection by the Bobcats, even if the team does not have eight players under contract or as restricted free agents for the 2004-05 season.
  • Any player under contract selected by the Bobcats will immediately be placed on the Bobcats roster.
  • Any eligible restricted free agent selected by the Bobcats shall immediately become an unrestricted free agent.
  • Unrestricted free agents are not eligible to be protected nor are they eligible to be selected by the Bobcats.

B. Pre-Expansion Draft Trades

  • Teams will be permitted to enter into pre-Expansion Draft trades involving players or draft picks in which Charlotte agrees to select or not select certain unprotected players in return.

C. Salary Cap

  • Charlotte will be permitted to select players in the Expansion Draft without regard to the Salary Cap.
  • Charlotte will have a Salary Cap in its first season equal to 66% of the Salary Cap applicable to the rest of the league and a Salary Cap in its second season equal to 75% of the Salary Cap applicable to the rest of the league.
  • Charlotte will be permitted to sign any restricted free agent it selects in the Expansion Draft using the same “Bird,” “Early Bird” or “Non-Bird” Exception that the player’s prior team would have had.
  • Compensation paid to a selected player under a contract protected for lack of skill will be excluded from Charlotte’s Team Salary if the player’s contract is terminated (via the waiver procedure) prior to the start of the 2004-05 season.
  • A team with a Team Salary above the Salary Cap will receive a Trade Exception to replace a player (other than a restricted free agent) selected from its unprotected list.

D. Post-Expansion Draft Transactions

  • A team will not be permitted to reacquire a player that it loses in the Expansion Draft prior to the expiration of one year from the date of the Expansion Draft, unless the player is waived and not claimed by any other team.

I followed the original rules and chose my players.  They are listed in the order of determine to the best of my ability from Basketball-Reference.  I was very careful to limit the use of hindsight and only use foresight for the purposes of this project, as I was trying to simulate the actual thought processes of a GM, given what little information I actually know about the inner workings of an NBA team.  Players in bold were actually selected by Charlotte.

  • Boston: PF Brandon Hunter.  Age 23.  1 Year, $620K.  .107 WP48, .066 WS48.
  • Chicago: PF Jerome Williams.  Age 31.  4 Years, $6.1M.  .243 WP48, .127 WS48.
  • Dallas: C Danny Fortson.  Age 28.  3 years, $5.8M.  .169 WP48, .177  WS48
  • Houston: SG Adrian Griffin.  Age 30.  1 Year, $870K.  .093 WP48, .031 WS48.
  • Indiana: PF Austin Croshere.  Age 29.  3 years, $6.26M.  .124WP48, .156 WS48.
  • Clippers: PF Matt Barnes.  Age 24.  Restricted Free Agent.  .081 WP48, .045 WS48.
  • Lakers: C Jamal Sampson.  Age 21.  1 Year, $695K.  .286 WP48, .156 WS48.
  • Mempis: PF Bo Outlaw.  Age 33.  Restricted Free Agent.  .166 WP48, .107 WS48.
  • Miami: C Loren Woods.  Age 26.  Restricted Free Agent.  .144 WP48, .100 WS48.
  • Milwaukee: SG Erick Strickland.  Age 30.  1 Year, $1.65M.  .084 WP48, .069 WS48.
  • Philadelphia: SG Aaron McKie.  Age 32.  3 Years, $3.5M.  .181 WP48, .108 WS48.
  • Phoenix: C Jahidi White.  Age 28.  1 Year, $6.1M.  .052 WP48, .064 WS48.
  • Portland: PG Eddie Gill.  Age 26.  2 Years, $720K.  .092 WP48, .091 WS48.
  • Sacramento: SF Gerald Wallace.  Age 22.  1 Year, $1.55M.  .117 WP48, .052 WS48.
  • San Antonio: PG Charlie Ward.  Age 34.  2 Years, $1.7M.  .132 WP48, .110 WS48.
  • Seattle: SG Richie Frahm.  Age 27.  Restricted Free Agent.  .192 WP48, .152 WS48.
  • Washington: PF Lonny Baxter.  Age 25.  Restricted Free Agent.  .082 WP48, .094 WS48.

I have some notes.  For one, most of these guys are fairly low-Usage.  That being said, they are collectively about average with regards to their advanced stats.  This team has good shooting and good rebounders.  All in all, I think this team would win 30-35 games, which would not have put them in the play-off hunt in 04-05 but would have in 03-04.

The only reason that I picked Jahidi White is because in real life, the Suns traded a future 1st-rounder for the insurance that he would be picked.  The Clippers offered a similar trade for Predrag Drobnjak, but that guy was beyond horrible.

There were some other interesting players who I did not pick for one reason or another.  Kerry Kittles and Eddie Jones, Wages of Wins favorites, were both available, both both cost a lot of money ($9.25M and $14.55M, respectively).  I also seem to remember Kittles having a lot of injuries the following year-I am not sure whether or not he was already suffering.  Ruben Patterson was also available, but I think that Eddie Gill, a cheap, youngish back-up point guard, was a better investment considering that Ruben would cost $5.9M and be on the hook for two additional years.  Kevin Ollie was a good point guard, but so were the cheaper Ward and Gill, while Anthony Johnson cost only $2.2M but played on the same team as Croshere whose presence made my eyes dance.  Greg Buckner was a Wages of Wins uber-favorite in just about every year except for 2003-04.  That, and the fact that McKie played on the same team, led to me not picking him.

As for the now-Unrestricted Free Agent that I have Bird Rights for, I would have gone after Frahm and Woods most because they play positions where I am weaker, are known producers, and are not old and expensive like I am assuming Outlaw would be.  However, I drafted everyone with the intention of at least trying to sign them.

Because I would not have made the Drobnjak trade, I would have the 4th and 33rd picks.  Andre Iguodala, Josh Childress, and Luol Deng are Top 10 Picks who were highly rated by the Old Wins Produced version of Arturo’s Draft Model, as were Jameer Nelson and Delonte West.  While Iguodala was picked last from the first group, it was conceivable for him to go as high as No. 3, so he is a feasible selection at No. 4.  Hopefully, I would pick him, as he was also the most productive pro of the three all around.  With my second-rounder, my selection is almost irrelevant, as Chris Duhon and Trevor Ariza are the only available guys who did anything real in the NBA, and neither are in Arturo’s top five, so I cannot see their projections.  Considering this, I would like to trade up into the late teens to snag Nelson.  While hindsight is yelling at me to say, “No,” I would consider trading Wallace, a high potential guy, and the No. 33 pick to Denver for the No. 20 pick, which was in fact where Nelson was selected and later traded to the Magic.  With that, here would be my starting depth chart:

  • PG:  Charlie Ward, Jameer Nelson Eddie Gill
  • SG: Aaron McKie, Adrian Griffin, Erick Strickland
  • SF: Jerome Williams, Andre Iguodala, Grffin
  • PF: Austin Croshere, Williams, Brandon Hunter
  • C: Danny Fortson, Jamal Sampson
  • Inactive:  Jahidi White

If I signed Frahm, he would displace Strickland and Griffin would split more evenly, while Woods would probably displace Hunter and go in front of Sampson, as he was more of a proven commodity.  I think this team would finish near .500, in good position to select Danny Granger, whom I think has played the 4 really well in his rookie season according to The NBA Geek, or Nate Robinson, who has played the 2 spot regularly, both of whom were recommended by Arturo and picked after the lottery.

Interestingly enough, many of the players that I would have picked regressed the following year, but they were not the likely offenders.   Of my over-30 years, Williams regressed but still played at an average levels, Griffin proved that the previous year had just been a down one, Outlaw dipped but only to mediocrity, Aaron McKie was roughly the same, and Charlie Ward hovered just below average instead of just above, although Erick Strickland fell way below 0.  However, Hunter became woefully ineffective, Croshere dipped below average, Sampson regressed to the mean, Woods dropped similarly to Outlaw, Jahidi White did a free fall into no man’s land, Gill dropped, Frahm regressed to the mean, and Lonny Baxter barely played.  Only White and Sampson can blame their fall on the Bobcats, and Wallace improved by a degree more reasonably attributable to random variance.  I honestly cannot explain this.  However, Fortson, Barnes, and Wallace did not decline, so this is probably just a random coincidence of strange fortune and a handful of small sample sizes.

Thank you for reading my post.  I think that this should prove that expansion teams do not have to be awful, although it is extremely hard to make a good one.  One caveat one could point out is that my team is not very young, but it only has four players tied to contracts for more than two years, although all of them are older than 28, and all these players had been historically productive, with the possible exception of Croshere if one wishes to be really picky.  Thank you for reading, please comment, and please come back.

P.S.  If you are interested, the spreadsheet that I used to analyze the data can be found at ExpansionDraft.  Players highlighted in red have their stats from a season other than the one described.