What I set out to do in the beginning of this series was to propose a better way to construct a team. The theory that if you have players who play both ends of the court or both sides of the ball, that is favorable versus a bunch of one dimensional players who excel only in certain situations. With the former, players should be plug and play with little or no drop off in the teams execution. With the latter, when someone needs a blow you become vulnerable in one aspect or another.
Would it work? I don't know as I can't find any supporting evidence that anyone has ever tried it. Could it be that it is a novel approach that no one has thought of before? Maybe, though I find that hard to believe. It could well be that with the restrictions of cap room, injuries, and countless other variables, no one has ever been able to do it.
Something important to point out is that all of this amounts to a snapshot, albeit a snapshot of an entire season. Things do change, not only from one season to the next, but within a season as well. Like many, when we were struggling back in December I was looking at different trade scenarios. One in particular was Larry Sanders who at the time had a defense of .73 ppp, yet he finished the season at .84 ppp or barely above average.
Which leads to another question, can a leopard change his spots? It appears that he can. Let me use one mid-season trade with two teams and three players to illustrate. Fransisco Garcia went from Sacramento to Houston. Before the trade; offensive .83 rank 262/ defensive .87 rank 192 - after the trade; 1.07 rank 17/ defensive .86 rank 168. Cole Aldrich went from Houston to Sacto. Before; .83-338/ .94-365 and after; .96-116/ .78-47. The third player, Toney Douglas from Houston to Sacto., before; .91-210/ .88-223 and after .88-262/ .76-29. As a team, Houston ranked 28th on defense and Sacramento dead last at 30, yet the defense of Aldrich and Douglas dramatically improved, Garcia's slightly and the offense of all three went in the opposite direction from before.
This shows that a player himself is not the sole determinant. Team philosophy, the coach, the surrounding cast of characters, and more all play a role. Some systems restrict a player and are an impediment to him flourishing. Some favor certain players over others. So it is also fair to wonder if the numbers for Sullinger, Bass, and the rest will remain as good if KG leaves.
The numbers above also highlight something else. When talking about points per play, a small change in the numbers equals a huge change in rank. For example, .82 on defense is good for a rank of 91, but .83 drops one to a rank of 108. More dramatic, .79 equals a rank of 59 while .89 drops you all the way to 255.
Another take away from this is it tends to support something I mentioned in an earlier part - hype. Many of our views and our perspectives of certain players are colored by the media hype surrounding them. An example here would be Joe Johnson where .93/ .87 is pretty pedestrian, just average. It proves what traditional per game box score type numbers show. He has been in steady decline since the 06-07 season, yet he will be the fifth highest paid player in the league (depending on the contracts Dwight Howard and Chris Paul land).
Or there is LeBron James who was reportedly miffed that the DPOY award went to Marc Gasol. At .85 ppp James is not much above average ranking 151. Gasol on the other hand is .77 putting him at 37. Go figure.
Most of our Celtics were covered in the corresponding positions sections. Of the ones that were not, Melo, White, and Randolph did not have enough games or minutes to qualify for inclusion in the data set. In the case of Wilcox, for as good a coach as Doc is, there was a failure to maximize Chris' strengths. Part of this of course was due to circumstances, but whether he is kept or let go, Wilcox deserves a fair analysis.
This leaves Jordan Crawford. We are all familiar with "throw it against the wall and see what sticks." In JCraw's case it seemed to be jack up enough shots and some are bound to fall. To be fair, it is tough for any player to change teams in mid-season and he did do some things well. In general though, he is strictly average at .84/ .92 with Boston and .87/.87 in Washington. Most concerning is his fall off in defense. The Wizards as a team were eighth out of 30, so it is not like it should have been a new concept to him.
If nothing else, I think I have shown that spending big bucks does not ensure getting a top notch player. Many low priced guys are technically as good or better and that is super important with the constraints of the new CBA. We also have seen that age is not a factor either. There are quality players both young and old.
In the end, I am not suggesting that these assessments be the only method to determine the value of free agents, possible trade targets, and our own roster. I do think they merit being a factor to look at going forward.