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Posts Tagged ‘John Wall

On Brandon Jennings’ surprisingly reasonable, John Wall’s unsurprisingly egregious and Jeff Teague’s dully expected contracts

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Wizards v/s Thunder 03/14/11

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This summer, three starting point guards in John Wall, Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague received post rookie deal contracts, Wall’s an extension a year early for 5 years, 80 million and Jennings and Teague through restricted free agency for 3 years 24 million and 4 years, 32 million respectively. I thought comparing their careers and salaries was relevant.

Brandon Jennings has had the feel of a destined to be overpaid player for years, but by the end, his flaws were apparent enough to “only” get that 8 million a year salary in the Detroit S&T for Brandon Knight. Has the pendulum of hate swung too far for Jennings?

Jennings had an alarming .399 FG% last year, but this isn’t reflective of his efficiency. When taking into account his 3 point shooting, a .510 TS% is more respectable, if below average. Dean Oliver’s Individual ORTG, perhaps my choice for the most important stat of all – has Jennings at a league average 106 the last two seasons. In comparison Jeff Teague who the Bucks tried to sign, also had an 106 ORTG last year. John Wall, who I will get to later, had 105. Jrue Holiday who went for a huge trade price to New Orleans, had a paltry 99 ORTG. Knight who Detroit dealt for Jennings, had only an ORTG of 98. Jennings’ efficiency looks respectable in ORTG because of a surprisingly low turnover rate (2.5/game) for amount of the shots (15.6 FGA, 3.5 FTA/game) and assists (6.5/game) he records. There is value in a player who uses many possessions at an average rate. Someone has to take those possessions and some players are more efficient if they don’t have to take a huge role. For example on Milwaukee last year, the players more efficient than Jennings were Ersan Ilyasova (114), Mike Dunleavy (111), Larry Sanders (109), Ekpe Udoh (109), J.J. Redick (109), Samuel Dalembert (108), all of whom rely on finishing shots at 3 or the rim players like Jennings help create for them off the dribble. The other reason average efficiency can have value, is that the Bucks had a better than average team defense at 105.2 DRTG. Thus even if Jennings efficiency wasn’t above league average, it was better than the teams the Bucks were playing, arguably thus contributing to wins. Among other all-in one stats, Jennings’ 5.8 WS and 4.1 WP are above average and comparable to Jeff Teague’s 6.1 WS and 5.2 WP.

One can make the case that a more fair price for Jennings and Teague is a slightly above league average 6 million a year, not 8. However, Jennings and Teague are getting paid for potential to get better in addition to current production. The best case scenario for both players is Mike Conley, Jr., who’s 5 year 45 million contract at the time of the signing was overpriced compared to his production, but his improvement has now made the deal look more than worth it. George Hill is another PG who received a contract in line with Jennings and Teague on a per year basis at 5 years 40 million, who’s gone from seemingly overpaid at the time, to a bargain if anything. If Jennings and Teague can lock down a starting place for Detroit and Atlanta along those lines, their teams will be happy. If not, the contracts are not as egregious or long enough to be killers. Neither contract is a home run, but if both teams are trying to follow the lead of the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers in constructing their teams, it may do.

John Wall’s contract at 16 million per year over 5 seasons, is harder to stomach. Has Wall been any better than Jennings and Teague in his career? As mentioned, he was slightly less efficient than them last year – and that was a spike upward from his first two seasons. Wall uses more possessions than Jennings and Teague at 20.9 FGA + 0.44*FTA + TOV, to Jennings’ 19.6 and Teague’s 16.3, but as he hasn’t proven to be better than average at using them, it’s debatable how much value there is in that extra volume. Wall is by far the best at getting to the rim and free throw line, but also easily the worst outside shooter of the three. All three are mediocre at best scorers right now, but when added to above average passing ability, it’s enough for average production as a starter.

Most of where Wall getting paid twice as much comes from, is he’s deemed to have star potential that Jennings and Teague lack. Wall was an undisputed #1 pick and #1 high school recruit and is one of the most physically gifted point guards of all time, with a perfect combination of athleticism and size. But many mistakes in the NBA have been made ignoring how much of innate talent exists outside the realm of physical talents. It’d be a fair argument to say Jennings and Teague’s superior shooting results throughout their careers, comes from having better shooting talent. It’s true that Wall can improve his outside shooting from this point, however so can Jennings and Teague. Jennings hit 37.5% of his 3s and Teague 35.9%, to Wall’s 26.7%. While Wall’s improvement at his best case scenario may make him a 3 point shooter in the mid 30 %s, the best case scenario for Jennings and Teague’s shooting is that they break the 40% mark. In other words, Wall can improve from awful 3 point shooting to average, but Jennings and Teague plausibly can make as relevant an improvement from good 3 point shooting, to great/elite. That’s not to mention that in midrange shooting as well, it’s as plausible Jennings and Teague become league leaders at the position, as it is Wall becomes respectable.

The other part of talent that’s relevant of course, is between the ears – the instincts and feel and mental affinity for the game. One worrying sign for John Wall is he can play the game “too fast”, a player who drives to the rim and has little fluid sense of where he is in relation to teammates. In fact, Wall was the subject of the best example I’ve seen yet, of  someone in the NBA discussing feel for the game. Most would probably say Jeff Teague has a greater control and sense of “pace” to his game. It’s harder to convince someone that Jennings has a more natural feel to his game than Wall because of the poor shots he puts up, but I personally see the craftier and more controlled player, something he may learn to grow into as he becomes a grizzled veteran.

In other words, while Wall is undoubtedly by far the greater physical specimen, you can argue pound for pound, Jennings and Teague are more talented at playing and seeing the game, leading to similar production 3-4 years into their career.

There are reasons why the Wizards gave a maximum extension to John Wall. They didn’t want the risk of him taking the qualifying offer next season hanging over their heads and perhaps it was a relationship move with them. It looks like they assumed Wall getting a maximum contract next summer was inevitable – and it may have been. And on one hand, if the Wizards had a change of management or heart, Wall’s contract is unlikely to hold them down. Due to his pedigree he’ll be tradable for years. Rudy Gay had worst-case scenario production after his max deal and Memphis had no problem trading him, even getting a good prospect in Ed Davis for him. With even more pedigree than Gay, Wall likewise just about can’t play bad enough to not have trade demand.

The problem for the Wizards and this contract is in two ways. One is that by giving Wall a max a year early, they put themselves at a major health liability. Wall sat out half of last season with a knee injury and the Wizards have had a horrible history with players and health recently, whether it’s related to flaws in their medical staff or luck. The difference between Wall’s health going in a terrible direction after his extension and if they had waited for his RFA, is obviously enormous – enough alone to make the extension a bad idea.

The second major issue is simply that if indeed Wall ends up only a league average or slightly better player (worth 6 to 8 million), even if he remains a trade asset on a max deal, they’d be in a position win more games if not having that contract. Average PGs like Luke Ridnour and Ramon Sessions can be found easily enough and are close enough in production to 2012-2013 Wall, that simply starting them and then spending 10 mil+ on other players, is in my opinion likely to lead to a better team. It goes against conventional wisdom to think the Wizards franchise could have a better chance making the playoffs in 2014-2015 after trading John Wall and starting Ramon Sessions instead, but if they spent the freed up finances well, that may very well be the case.

As long as he stays healthy, John Wall’s contract won’t kill the Wizards because of its tradability. What’s more likely to kill the Wizards, is if Wall remains average and they hold onto the contract for years. At the moment what can said about it, is that it’s enormously above what his production so far in his career has been – and that on top of it, was committed a year earlier than it needed to be. With those two facts, it’s hard to do anything but pan it.

Written by jr.

August 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

The lack of risk in giving John Wall a maximum contract

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WIth John Wall exploding in March to all-star numbers, the Wizards are fated to give him a maximum contract this summer.

Washington Wizards v/s Philadelphia 76ers Nove...

Washington Wizards v/s Philadelphia 76ers November 23, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia), the Wizards are fated to give him a maximum contract this summer.

Does Wall deserve the max based on his play so far? Of course not. An inefficient 16.8 points/7.7 assists/4.6 rebounds on a poor team, is far from star numbers. The Wizards extending him is a matter of paying for potential and knowing they have to max out Wall to keep him past next summer, whether they wait to extend him or not.

The Wizards giving him the max is still a good move. What it comes down to, is the contract has less risk than it seems. This is because even if Wall doesn’t progress past 16 pt, 7 ast, 5 reb point guard who can’t hit jumpshots, he’ll likely easily be tradeable. Wall has too much pedigree between his massive athletic talents and as a former #1 pick for teams to turn it down. 2-3 years from now, a 24-25 year old Wall will likely still be looked at as a player who can break out to star status, even for a team to give up for value for him. Some teams will believe “He just needs a new situation, the Wizards didn’t develop him right”.

The best analogy is Rudy Gay. Gay’s statistical production couldn’t have been more disappointing after signing his max deal. Yet Memphis had no problem moving Rudy, in fact with Toronto giving up real value in Jose Calderon and Ed Davis to give him a try. This is because Rudy’s star talent is so obvious that it led to trade value instead of the numbers. Wall’s talent and reputation arguably has even more pedigree than Gay’s did as an even more special athletic talent for his position and a former #1 pick. His leash will last for years before he’s seen as a maximum player without trade value.

The one risk is health-related., with Wall sitting out the first half of this season with knee problems. However as far as I know, Wall’s long term health is not expected to be in danger – and health concerns are a risk every team giving out a huge contract has to take.

As for the reward of keeping Wall, it’s clear. If indeed has star potential because his recent shooting surge is a sign of things to come, those players are too hard to find – and after making a leap forward defensively and with Wall in the lineup this season, the team is in fine position to make a leap up in the standing and perhaps start winning games on an Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies caliber level. When comparing risk to reward, unless his knees are damaged goods in their current position maxing out Wall is a near no-brainer.

Written by jr.

March 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Basketball

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Why future #1 pick Andre Drummond reminds me of a bigger John Wall

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The draft board and stage pre draft.

Image via Wikipe

You may have been disappointed by the 2011 draft simply because it didn’t have any knockout prospects. I’m a bit higher on PG Kyrie Irving’s potential to be a top 10 or 15 player and maybe get close to where Mark Price was in impact and statistics, but certainly from a talent perspective, you didn’t have an “Oh my god” physical talent like John Wall, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Greg Oden were in their drafts.

2012 is different. Andre Drummond is the definition of an “Oh my god” physical talent and quite possibly the most purely talented player since Dwight Howard went 1st overal in 2005, if you consider Oden’s health issues as something to diminish his ‘physical gifts’. Like Howard he’s a freakish combination of massive size and outstanding explosiveness – and he’s showing solid touch and ability to pass at the high school level.

But there’s a catch. In the last year or so, he’s starting to get some criticism for coasting on his talent level in games – plus, his stylistic preference has been to be a face-up, finishing and finesse PF. The stylistic comparison for Andre Drummond has moved from Dwight Howard to Amare Stoudemire. Now I’m not going to say we should be remotely disappointing in Drummond having Amare’s career considering how outstanding he’s been offensively, and frankly I don’t have personal hand knowledge of Drummond’s makeup to say he won’t go back to playing center and mimicing Howard. I would suppose that if he is indeed a future PF, he has the potential to be like Amare offensively with greater rebounding and defensive ability – which would possibly make him a top 5 player. But I’ll tell you what his situation reminds me of: John Wall

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The NBA’s 50 Most Interesting People of ’10-11 (Part I)

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A countdown of the 50 most interesting people in the NBA this year based on what they have and have not

Image via nba.com

done. This post will count down from 50 to 31.

50. Joel Anthony

Who’d have thunk that the 4th most important player after Miami’s Big 3 would be an undrafted guy who spent more time on the bench than on the floor in college? Dude’s become a living symbol of team balance. The Heat have so much focus on scoring with their 3 stars that not only can they afford to have a 2 PPG guy as stater – they STILL are putting too much emphasis on scorers even with a guy like Anthony.

49. LaMarcus Aldridge

With Roy falling on hard time, Aldridge has emerged as the Blazers’ star, as they continue to both disappoint and overachieve. Aldridge has yet to really capture our attention with star-like intrigue, but his new prominence is noteworthy.

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John Wall: Don’t pencil him in as the next Derrick Rose

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John Wall

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

John Wall has a lot in common with Derrick Rose. Aside from getting picked #1 and being deemed a future superstar, both have a combination of size and incredible explosiveness from the PG position. Now, in his 3rd year Derrick Rose is the frontrunner for MVP averaging 24.9 points and 7.9 assists on the #1 team in the East. Wall is averaging 16 points, 9 assists and 1.7 steals on 40% shooting – a roughly expected rookie season with a few more bricks. The Wizards are on pace to fall below 20 wins.

On the surface it’s easy to think Wall is going to follow Rose’s footsteps and become a superstar. He has the talent to. I’m not convinced. Making the leap from all-star to MVP candidate is about what you have upstairs. For all of Rose’s physical gifts, it’s only half of what makes him a special player. Rose is the consumate leader and team player. He works as hard as anyone in the league as shown by rapid improvements in all areas of the game. He understands winning is the only goal and he should balance his scoring and passing by what will get his team there. When Rose plays, he controls the game. He slows the game down and has mastered pounding teams in the halfcourt pick and roll. Rose can be a champion because of what he has in mind as much as body.

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Written by jr.

March 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm

2010-11 NBA Predictions: ROY

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This is a tougher award to judge than I think anyone realizes.  Here’s the thing, if you asked most people how they judge the ROY compared to the MVP, I think they’d probably say they think about them similarly.  The MVP of the rookies if you will.  However, if you actually look at ROY’s from a +/- perspective, you start seeing some major problems.

Now let me elaborate for those of you not as stat-obsessed as I am.  +/- statistics simply measure how well how many points more than your opponent are scored while you’re on the court versus when you aren’t on the court.  It’s something that came from hockey, but in the last decade basketball statisticians have really taken it to the next level.

Analyze +/- data, and what you’ll find that pretty much any guy considered a strong candidate for the MVP does really well in the stat.  However, if you apply the same stat to ROY candidates, you’ll find chaos, and if you think about it, that makes perfect sense.  Rookies typically are not guys who completely turn around their team so much as they are guys considered to have great upside that the team decides to build around.  They’ve earned their primacy based on future value rather than present value.

If you don’t believe me, let’s consider LeBron James as a rookie.  Read the rest of this entry »