A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Sacramento Kings

Why Demarcus Cousins probably wasn’t worth his rookie salary last year, let alone a max contract

leave a comment »

USACE Sacramento District Comander greets King...

USACE Sacramento District Comander greets Kings player DeMarcus Cousins (Photo credit: USACE HQ)

Was Demarcus Cousins even worth his rookie salary last season? (& introducing some new stats)

The Kings decided to give Demarcus Cousins a 4 year, 62 million maximum extension. The move is insane on multiple levels. Even if they are believers in Cousins’ immense talent and his chance to reach it despite 3 years, 6500 minutes played of underachieving so far, letting him play out his 4th season is a perfect opportunity to see what he is.

The extension is as if the Kings believe Cousins is a great player now. If not worth the max, then close enough to it. This can’t be more misguided. Cousins isn’t a great, 10 million a year center overpaid for potential. I’d in fact argue he wasn’t worth 3.88 million to the Kings – what he made from his rookie salary last season.

To help show why, I added together the Kings total possessions (FGA + 0.44 FTA + TOV), totaling 8924.36, then divided it up between every player on the roster (% in brackets). From there, I separated them into groups by Dean Oliver’s individual ORTG statistic, roughly measuring how well a player uses a possession. The groups I used were above the Kings team DRTG (111.4), above the Kings ORTG (106.2), above league average ORTG (105.9) and under league average ORTG (105.9):

Over Kings DRTG (111.4)

Isaiah Thomas 1098.28 possessions (12.31%) – 115 ORTG

Patrick Patterson 193.16 possessions (2.16%) – 114 ORTG

Cole Aldrich 50.84 possessions (0.57%) – 112 ORTG

Over Kings ORTG (106.2)

Tyreke Evans 1012.24 possessions (11.34%) – 110 ORTG

Jason Thompson 936.64 possessions (10.49%) – 108 ORTG

Marcus Thornton 897.44 possessions (10.05%) – 111 ORTG

Chuck Hayes 255.12 possessions (2.86%) – 111 ORTG

Toney Douglas 146.04 possessions (1.64%) – 111 ORTG

Over league average ORTG (105.9)

John Salmons 745.4 possessions (8.35%) – 106 ORTG

Jimmer Fredette 520.56 possessions (5.83%) – 106 ORTG

Aaron Brooks 388.88 possessions (4.36%) – 106 ORTG

Under league average ORTG (105.9)

Demarcus Cousins 1447.12 possessions (16.21%) – 102 ORTG

James Johnson 380.48 (4.26%) – 87 ORTG

Thomas Robinson 339.24 (3.80%) – 91 ORTG

Francisco Garcia 231.16 (2.59%) – 101 ORTG

Travis Outlaw 218.88 (2.45%) – 103 ORTG

Tyler Honeycutt 16.88 (0.19%) – 64 ORTG

Cousins 16.21% of Kings possessions is easily the highest on the team, yet his 102 ORTG ranks 11th on the team. After Cousins, the next 7 highest possessions users – Thomas, Evans, Thompson, Thornton, Salmons, Fredette and Brooks, are all above 106 ORTG. Cousins’ 102 ORTG is barely within shouting distance of his most featured teammates efficiency. By TS%, Cousins ranks 10th behind Aldrich, Thomas, Brooks, Evans, Douglas, Patterson, Thornton, Fredette and Thompson, including 6 of the other 7 top 8 possessions users (Salmons falling out).

Notably, Thomas, Patterson and Aldrich are the only Kings players above team DRTG, or the average opponent’s ORTG. To be more efficient than the opponent, is the root of Ws. If a player is more efficient than the opponent, he’s added positively to the team’s efficiency differential. If less efficient, he contributes negatively to it. The opponent’s offense is the break even point.

I created a stat based on this concept. Here is how I calculate it. I take the player’s above total possessions, then multiply it by (Individual ORTG / team DRTG). I subtract this number from total possessions * 1, to give me a “points above the other team” number. Since this is for the full season, I divide it by 82 then multiply by 2.7, an estimate for points per win, to get a “Wins vs Average” number.

For example, Thomas has 1098.28 possessions used. With an individual ORTG of 115 and the Kings DRTG of 111.4, 1098.28 * (115/111.4) = 1133.77, +35.49 from 1098.28 * 1. 35.49 divided by 82 and multiplied by 2.7, is +1.17 Ws. This indicates Isaiah adds 1.17 Ws compared to the opponent over the season. If the entire team’s Ws added to 0, that would indicate they are roughly 41 W caliber, or average. Here is the full Kings roster using this:

Isaiah Thomas  79 GP – 13.90 poss/game 115 ORTG 111.4 DRTG  1098.28 possessions  (+35.49 pts) (+1.17 Ws)

Patrick Patterson 24 GP – 8.05 poss/game 114 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 193.16 poss (+4.51 pts) (+0.15 Ws)

Cole Aldrich 15 GP – 3.39 poss/game 112 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 50.84 poss (+0.27 pts) (+0.01 Ws)

Toney Douglas 22 GP – 6.64 poss/game 111 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 146.04 poss (-0.52 pts) (-0.02 Ws)

Chuck Hayes 74 GP – 3.45 poss/game 111 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 255.12 poss (-0.92 pts) (-0.03 Ws)

Marcus Thornton 72 GP – 12.46 poss/game 111 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 897.44 poss (-3.22 pts) (-0.11 Ws)

Tyler Honeycutt 9 GP – 1.88 poss/game 64 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 16.88 poss (-7.18 pts) (-0.24 Ws)

Tyreke Evans 65 GP – 15.57 poss/game 110 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 1012.24 poss (-12.72 pts) (-0.42 Ws)

Travis Outlaw 38 GP – 5.76 poss/game 103 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 218.88 poss (-16.50 pts) (-0.54 Ws)

Aaron Brooks 46 GP – 8.45 poss/game 106 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 388.88 poss (-18.85 pts) (-0.62 Ws)

Francisco Garcia 40 GP – 5.78 poss/game 101 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 231.16 poss (-21.58 pts) (-0.71 Ws)

Jimmer Fredette 69 GP – 7.54 poss/game 106 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 520.56 poss (-25.23 pts) (-0.83 Ws)

Jason Thompson 82 GP – 11.42 poss/game 108 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 936.64 poss (-28.59 pts) (-0.94 Ws)

John Salmons 76 GP – 9.81 poss/game 106 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 745.4 poss (-36.13 pts) (-1.19 Ws)

Thomas Robinson 51 GP – 6.65 poss/game 91 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 339.24 poss (-62.12 pts) (-2.05 Ws)

James Johnson 54 GP – 7.05 poss/game 87 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 380.48 poss (-83.34 pts) (-2.74 Ws)

Demarcus Cousins 75 GP – 19.29 poss/game  102 ORTG 111.4 DRTG 1447.12 poss (-122.11 pts) (-4.02 Ws)

When added together, the total is about negative 13 Ws, a perfect fit with the Kings’ expected W/L of 28-54. That’s not to say every team’s total is a perfect match if this method is done, the limitations of the ORTG stat create a common few W difference.

Cousins’ rating is awful, because of his combination of using many possessions at a rate less efficient than his opponent. While it doesn’t explain him ranking last on the team, the poor defense of Cousins’ teammates contributes to that W score rating so low. Thus, is there any way to sort out how much Cousins contributed to the defense? Here is the list of on-court DRTGs for the Kings players and in brackets, their on/off defensively (a negative differential is good, indicating the team is better defensively with the player on the court):

On-court DRTG:

Under league average DRTG (105.9)

Cole Aldrich 105.1 (-6.7)

Under Kings DRTG (111.4)

Tyler Honeycutt 106.5 (-5.1)

Toney Douglas 107.0 (-5.0)

Chuck Hayes 107.3 (-6.0)

John Salmons 109.7 (-4.3)

Isaiah Thomas 110.3 (-2.7)

Francisco Garcia 110.4 (-1.4)

Over Kings DRTG (111.4)

Tyreke Evans 111.5 (-0.1)

Jason Thompson – 111.7 (+0.4)
Travis Outlaw 111.7 (+0.2)

Thomas Robinson 112.2 (+0.8)

Demarcus Cousins – 112.3 (+1.8)

Patrick Patterson 112.6 (+1.3)

Marcus Thornton 113.8 (+4.0)

Jimmer Fredette 114.2 (+3.5)

Aaron Brooks 114.4 (+3.8)

James Johnson 115.3 (+4.8)

While this isn’t a perfect way to measure Cousins’ D, the results do not look good. Cousins rates 6th last in on-court D and has the 5th worst on/off defensively, with +1.8. There’s nothing here to counteract the popular belief that Cousins is a poor defender at C, from a combination of youth and laziness. This is despite strong defensive rebounding numbers.

The defense against Cousins’ offensively, is that he’s a high volume player. With those 19.3 possessions used a game and 17.1 points a game, that the Kings need a go-to player offensively and he draws attention from teammates. Thus saying that the high ORTG of players like Thomas, Patterson, Thornton, Evans can be attributed to him.

On one hand, going against this is that the Kings have an ORTG of 107.2 with Cousins off the court, compared to 105.3 with him on, thus 1.9 points better without him. But even ignoring that, I made a stat that’s very favorable to volume and players like Cousins. I modeled it after OPS (On Base Plus Slugging), except using Efficiency and Volume.

To calculate Efficiency I subtract 96 from the player’s individual ORTG, then multiply the difference by .025. To calculate Volume I just multiply the player’s possessions per game by .025. I then add the numbers together. This of course favors players who not only use a high volume per minute, but players with a higher minutes per game to stack up those possessions per game totals.

Using Thomas as an example again, he has a 115 ORTG, for a difference of +19 – multiplied by .025, that makes his Efficiency score .475. He uses 13.9 possessions per game, * .025 that’s .3475 Volume, or .348 rounded. Added together his total is .823. Here is the full Kings roster:

Isaiah Thomas .823
Tyreke Evans – .739

Marcus Thornton .687

Patrick Patterson .660

Demarcus Cousins .632

Jason Thompson .586

Toney Douglas .541
John Salmons .495

Cole Aldrich .485

Chuck Hayes .461

Aaron Brooks .461

Jimmer Fredette .439

Travis Outlaw – .319

Francisco Garcia .270

Thomas Robinson 0.041

James Johnson -0.049

Tyler Honeycutt -0.735

Although not rating as awful in this category, it’s still not enough for Cousins to be above 5th on the team and half decent. In my brief experiment with this all-star caliber offensive players are typically over .800 or .900.

To use a comparison to some of the other standout offensive Cs in the league, Brook Lopez’s score would be .923, Nik Pekovic’s is .872, Marc Gasol’s is .842 and Al Jefferson’s is .783 (Jefferson had a better season last year with .857, despite league wide efficiency dropping 2 points. If making the base ORTG 94 to reflect this, he’d have been at .907 in 2011-2012). Compared to star offensive Cs, once again there’s no reason to believe Demarcus Cousins is a great offensive player, or even more than an average one.

But all in all, if forced to sign him to an RFA contract this summer, I may have defended the Kings for shooting for the moon with Cousins’ upside – my personal talent grading by the way, would rate him as not only talented, but an MVP talent. Plus the Kings may have known that even in worst case scenario, the likelihood of another team trading for him. What makes this extension crazy is how they weren’t forced into it. They maxed out a player who was below average if not below replacement caliber in 2012-2013, with no incentive but to make him less moody next year. And that incentive to improve his attitude, may backfire if the money makes him lazier and entitled than if playing for a contract. It’s a crazy deal that may warn of storm clouds for Sacramento fans, regarding the competence of their new ownership and management. The Kings may have finally divorced a drunk husband, only to end up dating another.

Written by jr.

September 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

33pt breakdown: Why I believe Jimmer Fredette is more talented than Tyreke Evans

leave a comment »

Jimmer Fredette Jumper

Jimmer Fredette Jumper (Photo credit: TheDailySportsHerald)

The Sacramento Kings are the Amanda Bynes of the NBA. They’re a mess. They need new ownership, a new GM and an almost entirely new roster. Who will they keep? Demarcus Cousins, despite not entirely getting it, is a true blue chip piece. Marcus Thornton is a great young SG. Thomas Robinson, James Johnson and Isaiah Thomas can contribute to a winning team.

Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette are two players who’s place on the team is in flux. Tyreke has long had the reputation as a superstar talent, due to his 20 pt, 5 reb, 5 ast rookie season he hasn’t been to follow up on. Jimmer was being written off as a bust before this season before getting hot in limited minutes. There likely isn’t enough minutes for both of them in the backcourt long term.

I believe despite their reputations, it is Jimmer and not Tyreke who is the more talented player. Here are my 33pt grades for them:

Physical tools talent:

Tyreke Evans – 11: Tyreke’s talent in this category ranks as historic to me. Not only is he explosive and built like a tank, but he’s an outstanding ball-handling talent. This is what made him a devastating force driving to the basket his rookie season. Tyreke is the closest thing to a SG version of Lebron in the league physically. His grade is a 10 or 11 in the category.

Jimmer Fredette – 2: Jimmer is an extremely perimeter orientated PG/SG. His game is predicated on jumpshots and he is an average ball-handler. Decent strength to finish at the basket helps him avoid a grade of 1 in the category.

Skill talent:

Tyreke Evans – 1: Tyreke is completely hapless in this category. For a 2 guard he has a brutal jumpshot, weak passing skills and weak touch. He does not appear to be a natural in regards to skill at all.

Jimmer Fredette – 9: Jimmer had an extremely skilled college career, shooting over 39% from 3 and 88% from the FT line over a huge volume during 4 years at BYU. During his rookie season it took some immediate time to adapt to the NBA 3pt line, but so far this year has shown signs of the wet shooting talent he was drafted as. He can create shots off the dribble as well as spotting up and is an respectable passer. Jimmer is a very skilled guard and deserves a high grade of 9 or 10 for a 2 guard.

Feel for the Game talent:

Tyreke Evans – 2: I’m not seeing any reason to give Tyreke a higher grade than this for feel for the game. His court vision is simply terrible, being unable to recognize where his teammates are spatially even enough to make a pass on a fast-break. He has little feel for the court and is often out of control.

Jimmer Fredette – 8: Jimmer was a very crafty player mentally at BYU. He recognized space and angles which allowed him to creatively get off shots or drive to the rim within space. He made scoring look relatively easy and natural.

Total grades:

Tyreke Evans – 14 (average player talent grade)

Jimmer Fredette – 19 (borderline all-star talent grade)

Jimmer and Tyreke is an interesting combination to compare because they have inverse strengths/weaknesses in physical talent and skill. Jimmer is a great skill talent for his position but lacks physical talent. Tyreke has massive physical talent for his position but lacks skill talent. If one considers physical and skill talent as having equal worth as I do, their combined physical/skill talent would thus be similar due to each hitting a home run in one of the categories and striking out in the other.

Thus the tiebreaker is feel for the game. And in that it doesn’t appear to be a comparison. Jimmer is a more intelligent player with better court vision and Tyreke has no vision or feel for the court at all. Jimmer thus comes out with an easily higher grade.

Tyreke Evans is the definition of a “one tool” player using this grading system. As amazing as his physical talent score is because of his ability to attacking the basket is, he does not have skill or mental talents. Jimmer has the chance to be a “two tool” talent by standing out in both skill and feel for the game.

The Kings or their fans shouldn’t give up on Jimmer Fredette. Players who can shoot and who are smart stick in the league even if they aren’t athletic enough. Fredette is much more JJ Redick or Stephen Curry than Adam Morrison. Redick was written off early in his career as a bust, but he turned it around and is in the middle of an impact career. Redick had the skill and feel for the game to make it. The misconception about Adam Morrison is that he fell out of the league because of his athleticism, but what really killed the ‘Stache is that he couldn’t shoot consistently. Judging from his college and NBA 3P%/FT% numbers, Jimmer is much more like Redick or Curry than Morrison as a shooter and skill player.

Tyreke Evans has allure due to the sexiness of amazing physical talent and the adage of “you can’t teach physical tools, but you can teach skill”. But if one accepts a player like Jimmer’s skill and vision advantage over Tyreke is mostly innate, it becomes easier to accept that Fredette may actually be the more talented player.

Written by jr.

November 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm

NBA Franchise Power Rankings: #18 – Sacramento Kings

leave a comment »

Demarcus Cousins

Previous rankings:

#30 - Charlotte Bobcats (+ introduction)
#29 - Phoenix Suns
#28 - Denver Nuggets
#27 - Detroit Pistons
#26 - Milwaukee Bucks
#25 - Philadelphia 76ers
#24 - Houston Rockets
#23 - Portland Trailblazers
#22 - Toronto Raptors
#21 - Indiana Pacers
#20 - Atlanta Hawks 
#19 - Golden State Warriors

#18 – Sacramento Kings

Best assets: PF/C Demarcus Cousins (young, projects as borderline starter to legitimate all-star), 2012 SAC 1st, SG Tyreke Evans (young, projects as borderline to legitimate starter), PG Jimmer Fredette (young, projects as borderline to legitimate starter), 2013 SAC 1st, RFA SG Marcus Thornton (young, projects as borderline to legitimate starter), PF JJ Hickson (young, borderline starter), PF Jason Thompson (young, borderline starter), SF Donte Green (young, projects as bench player to borderline starter), C Hassan Whiteside (young, projects as non NBA player to borderline starter)

Bad contracts: SF John Salmons (3 years, 24 million), Francisco Garcia (3 years, 18.3 million)

Total Trade Value Ranking: #18

Financial Grade: B

Management Grade: C+

Overall synopsis: The Kings are one of the most “volatile” teams on this list. Meaning that I wouldn’t be surprised if they either rose to the top 10 or fell to the bottom 5 within a year. They are built on prospects who could either be extremely valuable or completely valueless soon. How does this list try to judge the Kings with that in mind? By valuing their assets with that in mind. A player like Demarcus Cousins is neither valued as much as a surefire star or as small as a future ‘get him off my team’ enigmatic headcase – but somewhere in the middle out of the possibility he goes in either direction. The fact that the Kings have the chance of these guys getting them and carrying them to a contending era puts them above a team like the Portland Trailblazers who at the moment, don’t appear to have any chance of hitting those heights anytime soon with Lamarcus Aldridge and very little else. Overall I believe the Kings are headed in the right direction, it’s just their headed into an ocean storm with a dinky motor boat. They might still get there… or they could be blown off and either drown or float back to the shore they started. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

November 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Trying to justify the Sacramento Kings moving down in the draft to add John Salmons

with 4 comments

John Salmons of the Chicago Bulls vs Pacers, D...

Image via Wikipedia

Quick recap: In the player moving draft day deal between the Bobcats, Bucks and Kings, the gist of the Kings side was moving from #7 to #10 pick for taking on John Salmons’ bad contract for Beno Udrih. (I’ll have thoughts on the Bucks and Bobcats end of things later) A lot of NBA fans went: Huh??? It seems out of place for a young team like the Kings to give up value for an old, big contract like Salmons.

Yet NBA teams don’t do deals for no reason. Here’s my best guess as the Kings motivation for this

–  First, I suspect they were taking Jimmer Fredette at #7 as much as at #10. Yes, Brandon Knight was available at #7 and a great basketball fit beside Tyreke Evans. But Jimmer was just as strong of one and more importantly for the Maloofs who need money, the most popular player in the draft and a huge jersey mover and fan maker. Jimmer was going to the Kings. So the move down didn’t effect anything for them in terms of draft position. It’s simply  Udrih for Salmons, which certainly doesn’ t look as bad.

Read the rest of this entry »