Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hot Deadline Action: Gay to the Raps

In the first big trade of the season, here's what everybody came away with.

TORONTO                                WP48           
Rudy Gay (12-13)                        .040              
Rudy Gay (Career)                       . 76                

Hamad Haddadi (12-13)              - .001            
Hamad Haddadi (Career)               .087

Ed Davis (12-13)                         .191
Ed Davis (Career)                        .199    

Tayshaun Prince (12-13)              .087
Tayshaun Prince (Career)             .130

Austin Daye (12-13)                    .137
Austin Daye (Career)                    .23

Jose Calderon (12-13)                  .234
Jose Calderon (Career)                 .201

Analysis: There was one guy in this trade with a giant contract and no history of efficient production and a whole lot was given up to get him. Bryan Colangelo may still have a pretty good reputation around the league but this is just the latest in a pretty long line of grievous errors on his part. Now, don't get me wrong, it is not inconceivable that a lineup of Lowry, Fields, Gay, Amir Johnson, and Valanciunas could be a factor in the East, especially if they can find a way to get from under the contracts of Bargnani and/or Derozan, but trading your best young player and an expiring contract for a defensively challenged over-shooter (on a team already overstuffed with defensively challenged over-shooters) does nothing to further that aim.

For Memphis, I kind of wished they had hung on to Calderon for the stretch run and figured out another way to fill out their roster, but this is still a pretty nice deal. They realized that giving Gay a big contract, though it may have felt necessary at the time, wasn't a very good idea, and they were able to get out from under it in fine fashion. Daye has always looked the part and his DI was quite respectable coming out of Gonzaga. In limited minutes this season has been quite productive, though to date he has still disappointed.
Has the light switched on? Did Memphis pull a fast one? That will determine whether this was a good trade or a great one. Prince is decent and 7M isn't exactly prohibitive if they want to dump him in a year or two.

Detroit gets Prince off the books and gets some return for Daye, whom they had clearly lost patience with. That opens up more minutes for the very solid Kyle Singler and is a step in the right general direction for that franchise.

WP as of 1/31/13 - Taken from

We're Back! The Past 3 Weeks in Bullet Points

After a restful hiatus, DI is back and better than ever. It was a busy January of getting caught up on the latest crop of prospects (analysis coming shortly), playoff football, and Dog Days Association hoops. Good, interesting stuff all around, here were the highlights according to the Index...

- The Lakers mini-resurgence is an interesting basketball riddle. The quick analysis says that Kobe is working the ball around, getting easier shots for his teammates, and the team as a whole is more functional. I can't totally refute that- Pau and Nash are taking, and making more shots, and Earl Clark (who DI predicted would be a good player - is he finally going to pay that off?) has emerged as a legitimate threat, especially from beyond the arc. However, the more seminal cause of the upswing in L.A seems to be their dominating of the glass and the sharp decline in the shooting percentage of their opponents. Is Kobe shooting less and the team playing better D related? Have they just decided to finally play up to their ample abilities? This is interesting viewing, if nothing else...

- DI's biggest break with the mainstream in this year's draft class was on our championing of Tony Wroten. Last week's trade with Cleveland has cleared a rotation spot for Wroten and we're excited to get our first real look at the kid. Treat yourself to his highlight package from last week's win over the Lakers- time will tell if he'll be a consistently productive player but damn is he fun to watch. (Skip ahead to 1:53 for evidence of that)


  - One of DI's other favorites, Bradley Beal, has been quietly killing it over the month of January. The analysis is not too complicated- in December Beal shot 19% on threes, in January he's at a whopping 52%. He's just young, and this is still looking like a throwaway year, but make no mistake, he's a stud. Say whatever you want about our methods, but I think we can all agree OKC knows what they're doing, and they were about to trade Harden for this kid more or less straight up. What more do you need to know?

- We never quite bought the Warriors as a playoff team- too many guys having career best seasons, it usually doesn't last play out for a full 82 like that. But hey, they may just have what it takes to stick. If Bogut can stabilize the interior for them, and Curry doesn't miss too much time with his latest ankle tweak, they are probably going to hang on to the 6th or 7th seed in the West. They don't have any real sink holes (peace Monta) anymore, and that bench is just really, really good. Personally, I hope it works out, that's a great fan base and they deserve it.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Concession Report: Cavs Edition

The second entry into the Concession Report is another team who came into the season with considerable optimism. The Cavs appeared to be well on their way to rebuilding the franchise: they had a marquee, if slightly overvalued 20 year old point guard in Kyrie Irving, a solid frontline in Varejao and Thompson, and another top five pick in a very strong draft. Even last season, they were a candidate for the 8th spot in the East prior to Varejao breaking his wrist in February.
Fast forward to 2013 and the Cavs hold the league's second-worst record and frankly get blown out a lot. Let's get out the forceps and dissect this corpse...

What Went Wrong: A common criticism levied by adherents to Win Score theory against certain players is that they shoot the basketball too much. It is better, we say, to engage all five players on the floor and work the offense to get high percentage shots. The counterargument is that players like Kobe need to shoot all of the time because they have the ability to 'create', and that the lesser players on the court only look efficient because they don't have to take tough isolation shots. The evidence tends to support spreading the ball around, but what, you may ask, is the point of all this?

I'm glad you asked. The point is that neither side could say a word about this Cavs team. This is a TERRIBLE shooting team. I have no idea who on this team should shoot, or at what point in the shot clock, or from where on the court- they suck at it all. They turn the ball over too. Only three teams turn it over more and they run at much quicker paces. Hold on a second, over half the team is shooting under 40%! Can that be true? Half the team!?! You could never win playing that way, ever. How is their defense? 25th in the league? Good.

Plus Irving and Varejao have missed time and Waiters and Zeller have been lousy.

What Went Right: They rebound the ball really well. Thompson hasn't exactly come flying out of the gates, but in his sophomore season is starting to look like the player that the Cavs hoped they were getting. (I don't have the numbers in front of me, but Thompson's DI was huge coming out of Texas, a green-plus prospect.) Varejao is a dominant force on the glass and has been one of the league's best players this season. Irving is an above-average contributor and is good enough you can check off the ever-important 'point guard' from the list of team needs.

If We Ran The Show: The current discussion regarding the future of the Cavs is whether to trade Varejao. He's 30, he gets hurt alot, you've got Thompson to take the 4, I can see where you might explore the option. That being said, trading Varejao just isn't advisable. Unless a team that uses analytics would give you something comparable to what Sideshow Bob is worth, I wouldn't dream of it. You shouldn't trade anyone whose actual value outstrips their perceived value, as a rule.
To begin to fix the Cavs, perhaps the most important step would just be to start cleaning out the clutter on this roster. This team is laden with players who have never been productive, and never will be. Gibson and Miles log heavy time and neither have even sniffed a .100 season. Gee plays 34 minutes a game and I can't say I would even want him in my rotation. I would swap out any of these guys that someone would take, comb the D-league and the waiver wire, play Luke Walton and Kevin Jones...These are all actually steps in the right direction.
You don't fix this thing with D-Leaguers though- You're going to have to break out of the safe GM paradigm to do that. The current leadership will likely continue to give run to their guys: Zeller, Casspi, and Waiters namely. It's the safe and obvious position, but one DI, and the players' own performances thus far, suggest is a futile one. The sooner they sell these guys off, the sooner they'll have a chance to compete. We would ride into town and start launching these bums.
The overall outlook here, as we said with Washington, is actually pretty solid. You've got 3 good starters, sufficient cap space, a likely high lottery pick and another first from the Lakers for Sessions. Poythress might be a good fit for them this summer. On the free agent market, they've got to get a defensive stopper and somebody with some leadership qualities. There are times the Cavs look decent for a half and then just come unspooled and that doesn't have to happen. Shawn Marion or Matt Barnes would suffice.

The One-Third Report: Winners With Andre

As we ring in 2013, it's time to take a renewed look at how the Freshman class is performing. Listed below are some of the notable performances, accompanied by our pre-draft grades.

                                                                   WP48                              DI Score

Andre Drummond                                        .338                                   .45            
Maurice Harkless                                         .197                                   .59
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist                                .186                                  1.56
Anthony Davis                                             .171                                  2.80
Jared Sullinger                                             .155                                  1.06
Damian Lillard                                            .081                                    .29
Harrison Barnes                                          .058                                    .68
Festus Ezeli                                                 .049                                    .11
Terrence Ross                                              .019                                    .48
Bradley Beal                                                .010                                    1.05
Jae Crowder                                                -.015                                    .92
Thomas Robinson                                       -.022                                    .70
Austin Rivers                                              -.059                                    .13

Analysis: The runaway Rookie of the Year (in reality) is Drummond, who is actually among the league's best players this season. He's so good in fact, that the Pistons seem to be taking notice, upping his minutes and even winning a few games of late. As you may have noticed, DI wasn't all that high on Drummond- he has transformed his rebounding, hitting the glass the way a player of his size and athleticism should and is ranging all of over the paint making defensive plays. Two steals a game for a player of his size in the limited minutes he's getting is just absurd. One thing to keep an eye on- his free throw shooting as stayed in the 35-40% range it was in college, and as opponents catch up to how good this guy is, he's going to see some Hack-a-Drummy.

Harkless looks like the real deal, he and Vucevic are making that Howard deal look downright defensible. Mo is an interesting case study on DI, he was a Freshman, the number one option on a Big East team that wasn't terrible, but as you can see, his production was middling. Had he stayed at St. Johns, he may have incrementally improved and solidified himself as a lottery pick in another year or two, or he may not have. It's impossible to tell.
DI is fundamentally a measurement of the safety of a given draft pick, and therefore it does not really handicap for younger players. Freshman are graded on the same curve as seniors because, at draft time, we don't know any more about the older player's ability to play professional basketball than we do the younger. Neither prospect has done it and we have to use the information available to decide if they might be able to. To our mind, Hennigan and Dumars both took defensible risks and hit it big.

Our favorites, Davis, MKG, and Sullinger are steady and productive. Lillard's early hyper-efficiency has come back to earth a little, this is probably what we can expect from him. Ezeli and Barnes have also bottomed out a little, Barnes plays his ass off and we think this is just a blip on the radar, he should be a solid .100+ player.

Waiters and Ross are proving to be the flat, inefficient guards DI predicted they'd be. Beal is still having a rough year, but he's starting to rebound and distribute the ball the way he did as a Gator- we are cautiously optimistic.

Many in the analytic world were on the Crowder bandwagon, and we were pretty interested too. At 6'4, we had no idea how the hell he could play forward in the NBA, but he clearly had some game. So far, the former Marquette star seems to be suffering from an identity crisis of sorts. He's been playing like a shooting guard, spotting up, (28% from 3) and steering clear of the paint (1.2 offensive rebounds per 48 minutes), where he did so much work in college. We aren't saying it's going to work, but he's at least got to try to play that Chuck Hayes/Carl Landry role- all fire and piss and elbows.

Austin Rivers is still bad.

**Numbers from - 1/2/13**