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Are Andrew Wiggins and Brandon Ingram’s starts for real?

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Sacramento Kings

The hopes for Wiggins career have been resurrected. Last season felt like the nail in the coffin for ever living up to his contract, putting up a woeful 18.1 pts, .493 TS%, 12.4 PER, .012 WS/48 and -2.9 BPM in his 5th season, which should have been a make or break year. This year he is at 25.9 pts, 22.2 PER, .563 TS%, .154 WS/48, 1.4 BPM.

Compared to last year, his ratio of FGA attempts per area (via basketball-reference):

2018-2019

At rim: 26.3%

3-10 ft: 14.6%

10-16 ft: 12.2%

16 ft-<3pt: 18.1%

3pt: 28.8%

2019-2020

At rim: 26.5%

3-10 ft: 21.7%

10-16 ft: 9.1%

16-23 ft: 11.3%

3pt: 31.3%

His eFGs from those areas:

2018-2019

At rim: .621

3-10 ft: .341

10-16 ft: .340

16-<3pt: .329

3pt: .339

2019-2020

At rim: .689

3-10 ft: .460

10-16 ft: .429

16-<3pt: .385

3pt: .361

He has increased his FTA rate from 4.1/game to 4.8, and FT% from .699 to .736. His rebounds at 5.1, assists at 3.6 and blocks at 1.1 are also career highs.

The biggest change in his shot selection is changing long 2s for 3s as seen by his 3pt attempts going from 4.8 to 6.5, and his % also increasing from 33.9% to 36.1%. He has also improved his efficiency from every area despite taking more FGAs overall at 20.9 instead of 16.6.

If Wiggins genuinely improved his shooting from midrange and 3, his %s from each area so far are not unsustainable compared to other wings around the league. However through his first 5 years he has not been a consistent shooter despite teams playing him for the shot, nor is his career 73.5% FT elite. His increase in FGA attempts does not show yet that he’s being more selective taking good shots. Therefore the most likely scenario is he hits a cold streak and his midrange falls under 40% and his 3pt falls under 35%. Still, if he continues to take 3s instead of long 2s and passes the ball better he can have a better season than he did last year. And if he continues to be an over 35% 3pt shooter and over 40% midrange shooter, he could legitimately stick at all-star level, even if it’s a DeMar Derozan type of all-star that doesn’t hold up as well to analytics.

Brandon Ingram is putting up 25.9 pts, .633 TS%, .153 WS/48, 2.8 BPM, a major breakout from his season last year. His ratio of shots per area in each season:

2018-2019

At rim: 34.0%

3-10 ft: 18.5%

10-16 ft: 20.4%

16-23 ft: 14.1%

16-<3pt: 12.9%

3pt: 12.6%

2019-2020

At rim: 21.0%

3-10 ft: 20.4%

10-16 ft: 17.3%

16-23 ft: 11.1%

3pt: 30.2%

His eFG in each area:

2018-2019

At rim: .681

3-10 ft: .437

10-16 ft: .389

16 ft<3p: .437

3pt: .330

2019-2020

At rim: .647

3-10 ft: .515

10-16 ft: .607

16 ft<3p: .444

3pt: .469

Ingram averaged 5.6 FTA/game in both seasons, hitting .675 last year and .720 this year. His rebounds at 7.3 and assists at 3.9 are both career highs.

Of the two players, Ingram’s is the one that looks most unsustainable. He is driving to the basket less than he did last season, but making up for it with massive jumps in both %s and attempts (1.8 a game to 5.4) from 3 and also hitting an unsustainable number from 3-10 and 10-16 ft. Like Wiggins, improvement as a shooter is plausible and Ingram has the type of long body to get his shot off from midrange, but at a career 66% FT shooter and yet to average more than 0.7 makes a game from 3 so far in his career (averaging 2.6 this year) until proven otherwise his shooting appears too big a leap to trust for Ingram. With that said Ingram is averaging Durant like scoring numbers per minute (29 pts per 36, .633 TS%) so nobody is expecting him to keep up those numbers, and he could have his obvious regression and still end up having an all-star breakout season like D’Angelo Russell last year. He’s also been in the league for less time making genuine improvements more plausible.

Written by jr.

November 16, 2019 at 5:08 pm

Is Eric Gordon destined to be the Pacers’ final piece of the puzzle?

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Eric Gordon

Eric Gordon (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Once upon a time the Detroit Pistons built a great, defense first core around Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace that needed one more piece to contend for a title. After trading for Rasheed Wallace the rest is history.

The Pacers look like the closest mid-2000s Pistons equivalent since them. The foursome George Hill, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert is devastatingly effective as they crush teams defensively and pick apart with skill and intelligence offensively. None are superstars, but arguably 4 players at an all-star level makes up for it.

But conventional wisdom says, they have the need for (a) Sheed. And the gaping hole is the 2 guard spot where the mediocre Lance Stephenson resides.

If they fall in the playoffs this year, who can be their Sheed acqusition? The available player that jumps out to me is Eric Gordon.

Gordon’s blue chip talent is obvious, but his unhappiness in New Orleans has made his max contract there a disaster. With paltry efficiency this year and unreliable health, the Hornets should not believe in him as a long term piece.

However in Indiana he’s not only going to an elite team, but to his home state and where he played college ball. If there’s any team made to make Gordon happy and motivated again, it’s the Pacers. Whether his production is related to health is another story and on a max contract he’d be a huge risk to take. Another reason Indiana being Gordon’s home state matters, is the Pacers are among the league’s dregs in attendance despite such a great team. Gordon helps the attendance both by being from Indiana and by being a star scorer. Points per game sells players.

While his health, production and contract presents a risk, the upside is no less than an NBA title. Gordon is precisely what the Pacers need in a 2 guard, providing a top scorer beside George who excels at driving to the rim and getting to the line, while being able to hit the outside shot. The lineup of Hill, Gordon, George, West and Hibbert if healthy, is a flawless fit of elite defense, decision making, shooting and post offense. The Pacers somehow getting another blue chip starter on Hill, George, West and Hibbert’s level is just what they need to challenge the Heat in the East and meet their 2004 Pistons destiny.

What could a Gordon acquisition look like? Danny Granger would obviously head out. In New Orleans he’d be an expiring contract who if healthy could help them make a playoff run next year and prove himself worth of a new contract. If Granger is only there for a year, they got out from Gordon’s contract and are free cap-wise to rebuild around Anthony Davis. The Pacers may have to throw in their late 1st round draft pick and/or last year’s 1st Miles Plumlee to sweeten the deal, but those are small prices to pay if they believe in what Gordon can do for their team. The Hornets asking for the talented Stephenson may be harder to swallow for the Pacers, but he’s not an untouchable talent. A 3 team trade with Danny Granger headed to a team more ready to win than New Orleans and the Hornets getting assets back, is also plausible. The Hornets agreeing to a Gordon to Indiana trade would be a hurdle, but a very plausible one.

Long term, Gordon’s contract puts the Pacers in bind with Paul George and David West both likely inking long term deals this year. But if they can build an immediate contending team, those financial hurdles can be a bridge crossed later.

Eric Gordon would present a big risk for the Pacers, but “going for it” with him may be a offer they can’t refuse.

Written by jr.

April 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm