I asked the members of the Wages of Wins Network a set of questions for fun. Now, you lucky readers get to enjoy their commentary. I hope this will be a reoccurring thing and welcome any suggestions for questions. Here’s this week’s set:
- If you could have an amnesty clause for your team, who would you use it on and why?
- Who is your favorite underrated player active or inactive? (Doesn’t have to be best, just one you like)
- Which player has killed your favorite team most and why? (Doesn’t have to be season totals. Could be a key play, wasted draft pick, etc.)
Chiming in were:
- Alex Konkel – Detroit Native and Pistons fans. He’s also a stats whiz that writes up articles over at the Sport Skeptic.
- Ben Gulker (@brgulker) – Ben writes over at Pistons by the Numbers. He’s a Detroit Pistons fan and also one of Joe Dumar’s harshest critics.
- Greg Steele – Greg chimes in for the Wages of Wins Network on occasion. He’s a Houston’s Rockets fan and expert.
- James Brocato (@jbrocato23) – James writes over at Shut Up and Jam. He was Seattle SuperSonics fan and although he likes the Thunder, it’s just not the same.
- Patrick Minton (@nbageek) – Mastermind over at The NBA Geek and expert on all things Timberwolves.
I would use the amnesty clause on Ben Gordon. He’s paid about as much as Rip and Tayshaun, and all of them will need to go, hopefully sooner rather than later. Gordon is the worst in my opinion because he’s the youngest and has the kind of game (inefficient scoring) that can trick people into keeping him around.
Am amnesty clause for my entire team? That would be fantastic. Unfortunately, I get the sense that you’re looking for one player, not the whole roster. Charlie Villanueva, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Jason Maxiel – all of these contracts are bad to awful, but if I had to pick one, it would be Ben Gordon. Charlie Villanueva is still a 6’11” player who can shoot three’s, so a trade may still be possible. Rip is washed up, but only one more year of his contract is guaranteed. Ben Gordon is a one-dimensional shooter who’s paid like a star for three more years. He has to go.
I think Houston’s only player on which I would use the amnesty clause is Johnny Flynn. Over two years in the NBA he’s managed to produce -1.1 wins on a -0.016 WP48 at a position where Houston already has a good starter and passable backup (Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic, respectively). Brad Miller contract is unguaranteed after the coming year, so you can’t even say the Rockets dealt a bad contract in return for Flynn.
You would think that this would be an easy one for the Timberwolves, but there are so many choices. Still, there’s really no question that Darko Milicic fits the bill perfectly as a player that is both terrible and overpaid. The 2010 summer was the real indication that David Kahn has never had any type of plan. He cleared up cap space and declared to the media that he was putting the team in a position to be a “real player” in the free agent market. Then he signed Darko and Nikola Pekovic to nearly $9 million in contracts the moment free agency opened, when literally no other team was competing with Minnesota for either players’ services (with very good reason, as together they are certainly the worst NBA front line duo).
Who is your Favorite Underrated Player?
My favorite underrated player historically is Bill Laimbeer; I loved that guy. My current favorite underrated player might be Arron Afflalo, who isn’t great but I think is underrated. The Nuggets became something of a second favorite for me last year when they made their run after trading Carmelo. Afflalo was a big part of that. He’s also a former Piston and was on my fantasy basketball team.
Arron Afflalo. Dumars’ knack for finding productive players later in the draft, and thus on the cheap, is often overshadowed by his big-time draft busts. Unfortunately, he has a track record of giving those players away for nothing – at least as of late. Amir Johnson and Carlos Delfino are good examples. Afflalo is a great example. He was was selected 27th overall in 2007 by Detroit – 12 spots after Dumars selected the middling Rodney Stuckey at 15. Afflalo had a breakout season for Denver in 2010-2011, ironically emerging as a starter next to former Piston Chauncey Billups. According to Shamsports.com, Afflalo made under $2 million in 2010-2011 and produced over six wins for Denver. Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon? Over $23 million combined and fewer than one win for Detroit.
My answer is definitely not the best underrated player, just my personal favorite: Aaron McKie. He put 53.9 Wins Produced with a 0.135 WP48 over a long career, but started only 36% of the games he played in. I also like Brent Barry a lot. He’s the kind of guy that always gets overlooked: good at a few things, good at avoiding the things he’s not good at, but he has little athletic ability or flair.
Not to sound like a broken record, but Kevin Love. I was a junior at Washington State when Love was at UCLA, and although he dominated my Cougs, it’s fun to see these guys I used to watch in college blossom into great NBA players. Love is among the best, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves because of his team, and he’s a pretty likeable guy. That and he can hit a 100 foot shot (at least, he can if you give him 100 tries).
We all know it’s Kevin Love. We must live in some Bizarro-world for a player who averages 20/15 to be ranked 9th among power forwards in All-NBA votes and 14th in All-Star votes. He led the league in rebounding and is an efficient scorer, and there are THIRTEEN better power forwards? Come on, even if I concede a “he’s bad at defense” argument, nobody’s defense is bad enough to make those stats less than top-5 caliber.
I’m picking Darko as the player who’s killed my team the most. The Pistons essentially had a free pick in a draft with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Nick Collison, David West, Kendrick Perkins, Josh Howard, Steve Blake, Matt Bonner, Mo Williams… just to name a few guys still playing that I’d rather have. We could have stuck with our ‘earned’ picks and flipped the freebie for a veteran. Pretty much anyone other than Darko would have been a better choice. It turned out that we didn’t need anyone in 2004, winning the title, but if we’d had anyone besides a body on the bench in 2005 or 2006 maybe we would have made it through the Spurs and Heat. Instead of being a dynasty, the Pistons ended up being a pretty good team that everyone considers lucky to have won their one title during 7 straight years of 50+ wins.
The easy answer is Darko Milicic, but hindsight is 20/20. At the time, the Darko pick didn’t look nearly as bad as it does now. The real franchise-killer has been the summer of 2009, when Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were signed to five-year deals worth over ninety million dollars combined. Gordon is paid like a star, Villanueva like starter, but both have played like scrubs. It’s hard to focus on much more than the lottery as long as these players are on the books.
Brent Price; Dr. Berri actually wrote a good article about the ’96-’97 Rockets. They had Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and Clyde Drexler all a bit past their primes but still productive, as well as a somewhat above average Mario Elie. With a decent point guard, they might have had a legitimate shot at the title. Price got hurt after 300 minutes and the season was not what it might have been.
Well since I can’t choose Clay Bennett, David Stern, or Howard Schultz because none of them are players, I’ll go with Dikembe Mutombo. Michael Jordan was retired. The Sonics ended the regular season with the BEST RECORD IN THE NBA (I think that’s the only time that’s ever happened). And we lost. In the first round. Yes, Dre’s favorite moment is my least favorite.
There are so many choices here, and the obvious one is Darko, by taking so many shots, but I’ll give him a pass because the reason he takes them is that Kurt Rambis insisted on running his offense through his worst player. No, I’ll use this for Michael Beasley, because B-Easy basically could be Kevin Durant if he had any shot selection at all. In his first 1.5 seasons, Kevin Durant was not very good, largely because he was an inefficient scorer who took far too many long 2-point jumpers and didn’t rebound enough. Somewhere along the way, he stopped doing that (I’ve heard credit given to Scott Brooks, but who knows?), and now his outside shots are all 3s and his 2 point shots are all at or near the basket, and he’s started rebounding like he did in college, and BINGO, he’s an elite player. B-Easy needs to do the same. Check out his shot selection according to this article. He takes twice as many shots from 10-15 ft as the average wing, about 25% more 16-23 footers as the average wing, fewer than average at the rim, and about ONE-THIRD as many 3s as the average wing (despite an OK 36.5% 3FG). If he basically stopped shooting between 10 and 23 feet, his FG% would go way up (and I bet his turnovers would go way down from shooting more 3s instead of taking ill-advised dribbles) and he could go from B-Easy to Beastly.
While unexpected, I definitely enjoyed the general Pistons tone of the article. It’s definitely nice to have different opinions on fun questions. Feel free to submit any you’d love to have a group of stats nerds answer and maybe we’ll do this again soon.