How much are Deng and Gordon really worth?
I don't think that Deng and Gordon have peaked as many critics are saying, but I do believe that their ceilings have been realized... and it's not that much higher. So how much money Deng and Gordon are worth? I think the best way is to compare their overall game to to other players at the SF and SG positions. So I made a list of players that I think are better players than Gordon and Deng, and those who are of similar ability depending on the team's system. This list takes into account overall 2-way game, not just shooting ability. I looked at height, athleticism, set shooting, off the dribble shooting, ability to beat the opponent off the dribble, ability to finish in the lane, ability to finish with contact, ball handling under pressure, court vision, passing ability, offensive awareness, defensive awareness, on ball defense, help defense, passing lane defense, shot blocking ability, post defense, rebounding, clutch factor, selfishness, and intangibles.
Gordon is among the best at outside shooting (set shots and off the dribble) and is as clutch as anyone. However, he lacks height for the 2 guard (and lacks monte ellis' athleticism and finishing ability to compensate), is a subpar ballhandler, can't see over double teams and traps, and is absolutely useless on defense.
Deng is excellent at the midrange, average at finishing around the rim, slightly above average rebounder in traffic, and sometimes is a good on ball defender. He also has good height and wingspan. He lacks explosiveness, speed, and agility. He is an awful ball handler, can't pass, disappears in big games, and can't finish inside with contact.
I listed players at their natural position (eg Marion is really a SF, etc). I also tried my best to leave out personal feeling towards players (eg I think Vince Carter is a pansy but he is still a more talented basketball player than Gordon).
Players easily better than Gordon at the SG position (Note: the order of the lists is arbitrary, not a ranking)
- kevin martin
- Jason Richardson
- Joe Johnson
- Ray Allen
- Rudy Gay
Players clearly better than Deng at the SF position:
3 Caron BUtler
5 maggette (selfishness aside, he's still one of the best at finishing and getting to the line)
7 artest (even if he's a headcase, he's way more talented)
8 josh Howard
10 Gerald Wallace
12 Richard Jefferson
13 Tayshaun Prince
15 Mike Miller
16 Lamar Odom
17. Rashard lewis
Also while Deng is more polished offensivly, 18. Josh Smith, 19. Kirilenko, and 20. Shane Battier can impact a game as much as Deng in other areas. 21. Marvin Williams, 22. Al thornton , and 23. Kevin Durant all played well this year and have more potential than Deng.
Even if you disagree with a few players here and there on the list, it's clear that Deng and Gordon are currently not in the top 15 of their respective positions (and probably will never be in top 10). While they have made improvements in their games over their careers, they haven't made that huge leap that you normally see with young star players. It's hard to justify spending more than $10 million a year on these guys when half the league has better players starting at their respective positions. Unfortunately, it seems the Bulls won't have much choice but to overpay for their services.