So a few days ago the announcement of John Wall's Five Year 80 Million contract extension got me thinking more and more about how we value players and how we determine how much a single player is worth. I began to look at what skills are valued. How much is a elite skill worth? How much size and athleticism matters when it comes to extensions. How can we use other players extensions to gauge how much other players of similar circumstances could earn from their's? Do certain position players get more than others? I've selected 4 players who all play different positions on the court so that you can all have a good idea of the variety. So let's begin with the freshly minted John Wall.
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards(5 Year 80 Million)
Wall is a hugely polarizing player even more so after this contract extension so let's take a look at Wall and break down his skills. Athletically speaking he's one of the finest point guards in the league today. He's 6'4 with a 6'9 Wingspan and a 11'8 max vertical reach which is one of the best vert's ever recorded for a PG at the pre-draft combine. Let's break down Wall's strengths. Over his first three seasons in the NBA, Wall has averaged 4.3 Rebounds per game which places him in the top at his position. Over the past 3 seasons he's ranked he's averaged to be in the top 5 of rebounding for all point guards. The only 3 players that have averaged better RPG's over the past three seasons are Rondo,Westbrook and Kyle Lowry.
He's also one of the better passing point guards in the NBA. He's averaged 7.9 APG over the past 3 seasons. That ranks him 6th in APG among PG's in the past 3 seasons. Defensively speaking Wall has lead all point guards in blocks per game in his first 3 seasons averaging just under a block a game. Wall's main offensive strengths come again from his athleticism and his fantastic ability to finish in the paint. Over his first 3 seasons he's posted a 60.1 FG% in the paint which is a good way above the league average of 51.2%. However this is where the positives end for Wall and the true negatives begin to set in.
Let's start off with the Turnovers. He's averaged over 3.5 turnovers per game. What's worse is that his opponents have averaged 12.8 points per game solely off Wall's turnovers. He's giving away 12 points per game. Fun fact about Wall's turnover problems is that in the 49 games that he played last season he had 157 turnovers only two less than Chris Paul who had 159. Why is this worth knowing? Because Paul played 21 more games and had a higher MPG than Wall. He's placed in the top 5 among all PG's in TOPG in all 3 of his seasons. His TO/AST rate also is rather concerning especially at 2.22 which is one of the lowest among active starting point guards.
But where Wall is really at concern is his jump shot. Okay let's take a look at Wall's Shot charts for his rookie season and last season(Green indicates above the league average, white indicates close to the league average and red indicates below the league average)
John Wall Shot Chart 2010-2011
John Wall Shot Chart 2012-2013
As you can see Wall has improved his touch from mid range overall and the majority of his high percentage scoring is coming closer to the basket. He also shows a semi decent ability to hit a corner 3. Something from looking at the numbers he rarely does. Now let's take away all the lay ups and dunks and floater and focus purely on Wall's shot chart when the only shots being counted are Jumpshots(For this one Red is below league average, orange/yellow is around mid way and white is above).
John Wall 2010-2011 FG% Jump Shot Chart
John Wall 2012-2013 FG% Jump Shot Chart
What's most striking about this is the fact that maintaining the same amount of jump shots for each area his numbers have dropped off entirely which would indicate he's shying away from taking jump shots entirely. This is something that has plagued him his entire NBA career and something that he insists himself that he is always working on. But what strikes me about Wall is that he realized that he was not benefiting the team by taking as many jump shots as he did his rookie season. While this could be seen as a selfless act to not hinder the team isn't it also avoiding the problem? I mean you can do so much work in the gym on your jump shot but if you can't hit them in the game then what's the point? One of the biggest selling points on Wall is that his offensive game on it's own has produced solid numbers but the idea that he could develop a jump shot to already go with his terrific athleticism and ability to get to the basket could put him over the top.
There is no way of getting around it, it's a horrific amount of money to be payed to a player that's yet to truly establish himself as one of the best players on the planet. Just to give you a quick example Melo,Lebron, Durant, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul all got 15+mil extensions after their 3rd seasons. How can we defend the contract given to Wall when other more proven stars got nowhere near the money he did for almost double the work. What I believe about this situation is that Wall was convinced he was a max player, a point he made during an interview with Grantland's Zach Lowe earlier in the season. Now you're the Washington Wizards. You've only just escaped from one of the single worst contracts in NBA history with Gilbert Arenas. Are you ready to commit this much for this length of time to a player who's game is not fully developed?
It should be plain to see that Washington panicked and caved in completely to Wall and his agent. They couldn't afford to lose a player of Wall's quality especially considering the potential Wall has. They didn't want to risk keeping him on his rookie deal for one more year and then risk loosing him to another team when he would become an un-restricted Free agent and join another team. If we're honest here Washington's only real chance of succeeding is building around the young talent they currently have. The Wizards had no leverage and Wall and his agent knew it. The Wizards knew what they were paying for. It's just a case of trying to put the best pieces possible around John Wall so that he can begin to live up to that. Something that's also worth considering for future reference is Cleveland are in a similar situation with Kyrie Irving. They are a small market team that are trying to build up their fortunes and Irving is the star of the team and he knows it. It's entirely feasible that Irving and his agent could command such a hold over the Cavs that Gilbert could be forced to pay up in a similar fashion to what Washington had to with Wall.
George has been arguably been the darling of this past off-season and has been the main antagonist in current trend in over sized wing players who can shoot the long ball and guard 3+ positions. His real strength comes from being on of the most well rounded players on an NBA court today. What's more is that he's continually improved his game over his 3 seasons in the NBA. He's posted better numbers each season in points, rebounds and assists. Just take a look at his per 36 stats.
Defensively George is one of the best ball hawk's in the NBA, a fact that is illustrated by being the steals per game leader at his position last year. In fact George has had more steals over the past two seasons than his much lauded colleague in Miami by the name of Lebron James.
George is not just a solo artist though. He is a member of one of the top defensive unit's in the league. He's a member of a Hibbert,West,George,Stephenson and Hill 5 man unit that has one of the lowest OPP FG% in the league at 42.7% for any unit with more than 15 minutes on the floor. There is a reason why so many ex-coaches and players think George will be the next big star akin to the Lebrons and Durants of this league. George's talent level is just too high for him not to succeed further especially considering the trend he's displayed over his career. The only really big question is how high is the ceiling for George? To me anything in the ball park of 4-5 years at 15 or 16 million would be an absolutely perfect price to pay George.
However George does have small holes in his game that do need improving. He only shot 41% from the field. No matter what way you look at it that's not that good. Especially considering that 34.1% of his shot attempts were in the painted area last season. What's more is if we look at his Synergy statistics it would lead you to believe that maybe he plays better off the ball than he does with it. For example his 4 highest usage situation (Iso, P'n'R Ball Handler, Spot up Jumper and Transition) he only posts a +40% FG rating on one of them. To save you from looking up and guessing it's transition. On the 3 other situations he posts mediocre numbers. This is a very interesting idea to look at because whenever George was on the court he became the Pacers primary ball handler. Which by looking at the stats would seem like a huge failing. Compared to George Hill he's posted less assists per 100 possessions(George with 6.1 and Hill with 6.6) while George has double the amount of turnovers. Like i'm not sure how you justify handing the ball to him when clearly he succeeds playing off the ball and there is another more effective ball handler on the team.
Bearing all this in mind I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast George's stats to that of a few of his equals in Kawhi Leonard and GSW's very own Klay Thompson. Let's start off with defense and how these guys measure up in terms of Defensive Efficiency.
- George: 4.5 DefEff
- Leonard: 4.8 DefEff
- Thompson: 1.1 DefEff
But for a better idea of how these guys defend individually let's take a look at their synergy stats for the past season. For this we'll measure the stats of all three players on 3 specific actions. Isolation, P'n''R ball handler and spot up.
Isolation: PPP: 0.76 , FG%: 35.3%, %Score: 36.9%
P'n'R Ball Handler: PPP: 0.78, FG%: 37.8, %Score: 37.5%
Spot Up: PPP: 0.9, FG%: 35.8., %Score: 35.9%
Isolation: PPP: 0.78, FG% 36.5, %Score: 36.1
P'n'R Ball Handler: PPP: 0.78, FG%: 36.3, %Score: 34.3
Spot Up: PPP: 0.87, FG%: 35.6. %Score: 35.6
Isolation: PPP: 0.79, FG%: 34, %Score: 40.9%
P'n'R Ball Handler: PPP: 0.7, FG% 35.3, %Score: 34.3%
Spot Up: PPP: 0.87, FG% 32.3%, %Score: 33.7
As you can see it's a wide variety of results. George is arguably the best Isolation defender while Klay posts the best numbers against the pick and roll Leonard appears to be a middle ground between George and Klay. He's not as good in Iso as George and not as effective as Klay in the P'n'R. This trend continues on the offensive side too. George is a far more effective ball handler and it shows due to his usage and production in Iso and pick and roll's being far greater than Klay or Kawhi who both rely heavily on spot up jumpers(from which both shoot 40+%) for their scoring opportunities. Either way George's ball handling skills along with his ability to shut down the oppositions best scorer at 3 positions put's him ahead of both Klay and Kawhi.
Greg Monroe, C-F, Detroit Pistons.
For among Greg Monroe ranks among the most under valued and under rated players in the league considering what he is and what he brings to the table. He's a 6ft 11inch, 250lb big man that has the ability to give his team 16 points and 9 rebounds every night, and that's before we get to his increasingly impressive passing ability and his ability on defense. However due to the rise in prominence of Andre Drummond and Detroits recent acquisition of Josh Smith Monroe's future has been thrown into doubt. Personally I think the more talented big's the better but let's take a look at what Monroe brings to the table.
Let's start off with with his much maligned defense. A look into his synergy stats would indicate a particular alarming trend in his post up defense and his defense against the pick and roll which accounts for more than half of his defensive possessions last season. For example the FG% of all of his opponents post up opportunities was 49.7 and the FG% for the P'n'R Roll Man was 42.7 which is not exactly showering himself in glory. However a closer look at how the team performs when he is on the court compared to when he is off the court.
Let's start off with the Defensive Efficiency which comes in at a solid 3.1. Just for a comparison of how other players at Monroe's position played, Jason Maxiell posted a 2.8 DefEff and Andre Drummond posted a -1.3. As for some of the more specific parts of Detroit's defense the improved in Layup%, Tip in% and Hook Shot% when Monroe was on the court. Specifically opponents made 6% less Layup's when Monroe was on the court. What's even more impressive is that nearly 20% of opponents tip in% go down when Monroe is on the court. That's a huge difference. What's more is that when on the court his opponents shoot worse percentages from 0-3ft, 4-9ft and 10-15ft. I mean these are huge gains made by the team when ever he's on the floor. These are things that we'll come back to later when we discuss how he fits in with Detroit's future.
But now it's time to move on and discuss his offense and in particular his low post. What;s so fun to watch about Monroe is that the small things are really what make his offensive game so good. It's his positioning, awareness and athleticism that make all of his work in the low post that much deadlier. If you want to see how good Monroe is for yourself then just take a look at these highlights against the Heat where he takes them to task over their lack of a legitimate big man:
It's more than his ability down low that interests me when it comes to Monroe. He's become one of the best low post passers in the game a fact which is shown by his 3.5 assists per game which have him ranked tied third among all centres and power forwards last season. Just take a look at these highlights from Monroe's first career double which game this season in which he had 21 points 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
All these things go back to the point I was making earlier about Monroe's awareness on the court. He knows where to be, he knows where his team mates are and most importantly he knows the decision that needs to be made in order for his team to succeed. It's because of this that makes him so interesting to watch to me. He's got the talent to do whatever he wants and not many people can stop him when he gets going.
This is all well and good but what everybody seems to be interested with Monroe is how he will play with the franchise center piece in Andre Drummond. The conception from what I've read is that if the two are to play then Monroe would slide to the PF slot and Drummond would move into the defensive back stop centre. However the concerns are that Monroe would not be able to handle the speed and agility of the modern NBA 4. Not to mention that Monroe and Drummond both lack a solid mid range jumper which means that all of their work has to come from the low post which would lead to spacing problems. I however decided I wanted to take a look at just how Monroe and Drummond performed and how the team faired whenever these two players were on the court.
So to do this I started by taking a look at the team's defensive PPP(Points per 100 possessions) with one player is on the court and when the other is off and compared them to when they are both on the court together. So for Drummond the PPP is 111.1 while for Monroe it's 108.1 and when both players are on the court it's 105.9. What does this tell us? That Drummond is actually not that good when he's not given solid defensive back up. Monroe on the other hand seems to fair rather well with their combined efforts posting a number somewhere in the middle. Just to give a rough average on how to estimate those numbers, Detroit's total PPP for last season was 105.6 with the league average being 103.1. As for offense it's a little bit of the opposite. Drummond posts a higher offensive PPP with 108.5 over Monroe's 102.8 with both of their efforts averaging out to 103.5. Again both seem to compliment each other rather well. Monroe improves Drummond's defense while Drummond provides the same boost for Monroe's offense.
To me the addition of Josh Smith makes more and more sense considering Drummond's and Monroe's flaws. Smith has a form of mid range game that can open up space. He's a capable passer that makes those around him better and he's a terrific defender. He perfectly compliments the two big men and allows for line-up's where either Drummond or Monroe play centre and Smith plays at PF. It can also be adjusted so that Monroe and Drummond play together whenever their is a two big line-up like for example Memphis or Chicago. What's more if you look around the NBA now how many big men have the offensive skill set and size that Greg Monroe has? Talented low post player, great rebounder, capable low post passer with great intangibles and is still improving. You bundle that all together into a 6'11 frame and what you are looking at is a fantastic talent. If Detroit don't extend him then by all means he'll have no shortage of suitors lining up to try and sign him. Considering everything plus the small factor that big's get bigger pay checks it's not inconceivable that he could garner a contract similar to that of Roy Hibbert in the 4 years 58 million type range. Personally I think 52 over 4 years would be the ceiling but anything's possible.
*All Statistics quoted were found using vorped.com, nbawowy.com, espn.com, nba,com and hoopsdata.com