Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NBA Trade Machine - Part 4

Happy New Year! This has gotten a little ridiculous, yeah? A 4-part post on fake trades? Maybe. But analyzing the statistical effect of these trades is some heavy work. Well, at least as long as you're not the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Parts 1 and 2, I used the ESPN Trade Machine to conjure some fantastic trades that either pushed teams closer to playoff contention or to more lottery balls. In Part 3, I provided the statistical backdrop for projecting team wins based off PER. Below are the projected records of each team post-trade:

As a reminder, I'm using the linear fit formula I found in Part 3, which projects that a team's win percentage will be 0.1269 times the average PER of its top 8 players by minutes played, minus a constant of 1.4381. For example, a team who's players each sported a league-average PER of 15 would have a win % as such:

( 15 * 0.1269 ) - 1.4381 = 46.54%

I know that league average should be a perfect 50% win %, but I never said that this definition of PER explains everything.  For example, the above chart shows Dallas would achieve the league's second-highest win total just by swapping Vince Carter for Tony Allen. The Mavs currently have the league's 10th-best record and 11th-best point differential. Tony Allen is good, but he isn't that good. So PER is a good baseline indicator for winning, but there are some things that PER leaves out, like defense. I went ahead and adjusted the standings for a few teams:

I realize that this isn't exactly scientific, but then again, these are fake trades. When a front office calls me, I'll have better data. It's interesting that the standings don't differ that much from the actual standings as of today:

Part of the reason is that I'm assuming the winning teams, or teams who's ownership/management have suggested are interested in winning, are all trying to get better, while losing teams are not. Teams whose records really changed include:
  • Washington (playing well, traded 2 unused pieces for a starting-level guard)
  • New York (solidified PG position)
  • Philadelphia (traded a starter)
  • Detroit (traded several pieces, Rondo's injured)
  • Clippers (PER loves Kevin Love)
  • PHX (trading Goran Dragic for Rudy Gay)
  • Sacramento (getting rid of Gay)
So how do each of these teams look post-trades? I took a look at each team, comparing them to their current lineups. Yellow highlights are traded guys, green are the guys they got. Players highlighted in grey remain on the team but either no longer play (such as an injury) or are elevated to the top-8). On the left, we have their current top-8 players by minutes. On the right is the new projected lineup - first 5 are starters, then the top 3 off the bench. List is alphabetical by team acronym:

Atlanta Hawks

Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have been a ton of fun in Phoenix. No reason Dragic and Jeff Teague should be less exciting. This is a team built to run and shoot 3's. Ultimately, I don't think the Hawks have to trade Milsap, but this will be a fun bunch. They also get a pick from New Orleans (lower first round).

Boston Celtics

No idea why Sully's name is bolded. Maybe because he's the only rotation guy left. Boston picks up a bunch of young pieces with ceilings higher than their current guys. They also clear a ton of cap space and get a pick from Houston

Brooklyn Nets

I think all these trades make sense but they may not all work. I think this team is better than it looks if it can play a slow-down defensive style. No idea if Kidd can coach that style.

Charlotte Bobcats / Hornets

Charlotte also gets Otto Porter, who's hard to project because he hasn't played. They are getting two former lottery picks for a guy that won't be on the next winning Hornets team.

Chicago Bulls

Not having Rose is tough. Giannis Atentokuonmpo (aka the #GreekFreak) is a matchup nightmare as a 6'9" guard, but now that he's cracked the starting lineup, Chicago may have to give Milwaukee a protected 1st rounder (they do own a Charlotte pick that loses its protections through 2016). Breaking up a core of Duke players (Boozer, Deng, Dunleavy) is tough but needs to happen.

Cleveland Cavaliers

On paper this makes the Cavs worse, but now they have a team with positions that make sense.

Dallas Mavericks

Carter has played well lately but they sorely need someone that can guard 1s and 2s.

Denver Nuggets

This is a talented team but to me but the parts just didn't fit. They have a bunch of frontcourt pieces, none of which play any defense. Asik gives them that. Truth be told, they may need another trade to clear up some playing time.

Detroit Pistons

Josh Smith and Rajon Rondo are reportedly friends and should fit together. I'm not sure Monroe fits with Drummond and it will be tough to pay him anyway. Faverani and Robinson are upside picks.

Golden State Warriors

PER views the new Warriors unfavorably, but I think they are much better defensively. And the starting lineup of Curry - Thompson - Iguodala - Barnes - Gasol just makes sense. Multiple shooters, penetrators, passing at almost all positions. The second unit will be tough to score on.

Houston Rockets

Big changes! Lawson is perfect for this team. He's a good shooter and comfortable off-ball as evidenced by his ability to fit with Andre Miller in Denver. Brandon Bass fit alongside Dwight in Orlando, and Avery Bradley's ability to defend both guard spots will be huge in the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have fewer holes than most. Jameer Nelson is a better ball handler than C.J. Watson, though Watson is a big improvement over last year. Glen Davis is much better than Ian Mahinmi. Just trust me. Ian Mahinmi may not have hands.

Los Angeles Clippers

How fun would Kevin Love be with Chris Paul? Varejao is an injury risk but is a much better defender than DeAndre Jordan, block numbers aside. Having Matt Barnes healthy will be key.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers need big changes. Farmar - Bryant - Turner - Lee... all you need is a center. Andrew Bynum, everybody! No seriously, they actually get some useful pieces in these deals and don't really give up anything useful; they're not using Pau Gasol correctly anyway.

Memphis Grizzlies

They need shooting. Vince Carter can shoot. I didn't have the heart to trade Zach Randolph away - he's so synonymous with Memphis.

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bucks

They assume Boozer's contract and a protected first rounder. He should be good playing with Larry Sanders. Their frontcourt rotation is a mess as presently constituted and Boozer's contract is actually shooter than Udoh/Illyasova.

Minnesota Timberwolves

They have not shot at keeping Kevin Love. They still have a shot at Blake Griffin. David Kahn, everybody!

New Orleans Pelicans

Cleans up the frontcourt rotation: Milsap - Davis - Splitter are going to be impossible to score on inside. In limited minutes, Utah had success with Milsap - Favors - Kanter, and Davis/Splitter are better than both those guys. It even frees up the ball more - Eric Gordon is ball dominant and so are Jrue Holiday/Tyreke Evans.

New York Knicks

If everyone stays healthy, this could work. One injury, the Knicks are screwed. That's kind of the case already.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Arron Afflalo has blossomed into a great 2-guard. Getting rid of Perkins is addition by subtraction.

Orlando Magic

This trade A) makes them worse for this year's draft, B) gives them a shot to try Oladipo at point without Jameer, and C) gives them an interesting former lottery pick in Jeremy Lamb. They also get picks from Oklahoma City and Indiana (both should be low first round).

Philadelphia 76ers

It's not fair that a team with so many young assets and picks should get an awesome selection in this year's draft. I don't think they should trade Thad Young unless it's a killer deal - he's a solid all-around player on a decent contract. I love Steve Nash coaching Michael Carter-Williams.

Phoenix Suns

It sucks that they give up Dragic, but they clear the balance sheet and get a first rounder from Sacramento for their troubles. Dragic and Teague will be fun but it is a little sad that Phoenix has to get worse before it gets better.

Portland Trailblazers

They are gangbusters right now and I didn't want to mess with it.

Sacramento Kings

They give up a 1st rounder to clear Rudy Gay and get two complementary pieces in Anderson and Gibson. Gerald Green is exciting which apparently is important to the owner.

San Antonio Spurs

This is almost the perfect team. Ball handling, passing, shooting, defense, rim protection, chemistry, basketball IQ... I could go on and on.

Toronto Raptors

They get rid of guys they were never going to keep and an additional asset from Brooklyn that isn't listed here. I don't know how these guys fit but they are young and have tons of potential.

Utah Jazz

Jazz management seem to be ambivalent about Gordon Hayward. The other Gordon has shown an ability to soak up more possessions while maintaining a decent level of efficiency.

Washington Wizards

Gerald Henderson is good perimeter defender. For a team projected to make the playoffs, they'll need him.

And that's it! Will any of these trades happen? Probably not. But if anything, these teams should start embracing some change.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Full Version

#YouMakeTheCalls You Make The Calls #TradeMachine #FakeTrades #PER #NBA #ESPNTradeMachine

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