Southwest Division Preview


55 Wins

Notables In:

Marco Belinelli

Notables Out:

DeJuan Blair

Best Value Large Contract:

Tim Duncan ($1,163,549 per Win)

Worst Value Large Contract:

Tiago Splitter ($1,511,842 per Win)

Best Value Small Contract:

Kawhi Leonard ($218,675 per Win)

Worst Value Small Contract:

Marco Belinelli ($3,565,849 per Win)

Consider the following two players' playoff performances. One of them was deemed to be an ascendant superstar this spring. The other was deemed to be just about finished as a player:







Player A






Player B






Player A is Manu Ginobili, player B is Paul George. Let me be clear: I am not saying 35 year old Manu is on Paul George's level (there is this teensy matter of something called "defense"). All I am saying is that Manu, if he can stay on the court, is not finished. That is all I was trying to say just now.

The Spurs are going to be good again. They retained Tiago Splitter. He is a good player who I think sometimes looks a like an oversized Kyle Korver.


52 Wins

Notables In:

Kosta Koufos, Mike Miller

Notables Out:

Darrell Arthur

Best Value Large Contract:

Mike Conley ($724,720 per Win)

Worst Value Large Contract:

Zach Randolph ($2,998,273 per Win)

Best Value Small Contract:

Mike Miller ($493,262 per Win)

Worst Value Small Contract:

Jon Leuer ($6,478,150 per Win)

So the Grizz picked up Kosta Koufos (excellent backup center) and Mike Miller (helps their below average 3pt% and league worst 3PA) for what would have been their third string power forward and 900k? That is some outstanding tinkering by Mr. John Hollinger.

After the break last year's Grizz were on pace to win 61 games as the team transitioned from one led offensively by Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay to one led by Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. This had the effect of turning a poor offense into an above average one, which with their defense was enough to make them a contender.

Is this sustainable? I think it might depend a lot on new coach Dave Joeger and how he elects to divvy up playing time. One thing I noticed looking at the numbers is part of Memphis' post break flourish was attributable to playing the starting lineup more. In the games leading up to the break Memphis' starting unit was on pace to play about 1050 minutes over an 82 game season. After the break Memphis' new starting lineup was on pace to play 1500 minutes over an 82 game season. Now this second lineup was definitely better than the first, but if Joerger prefers to mix and match more than Hollins (early indications are that he does in fact prefer this) then the Grizz's win total is probably going to suffer a little.


52 Wins

Notables In:

Dwight Howard, Reggie Williams, Omri Casspi, Aaron Brooks

Notables Out:

Carlos Delfino

Best Value Large Contract:

James Harden ($965,243 per Win)

Worst Value Large Contract:

Omer Asik ($2,109,343 per Win)

Best Value Small Contract:

Chandler Parsons ($129,211 per Win)

Worst Value Small Contract:

Aaron Brooks ($36,061,071 per Win)

Is it possible that after adding 5-star center Dwight D. EisenHoward the Rockets will only win two more games than they were supposed to last year according to point differential? I would not put money on it, but I do think it is very possible that Howard will not have a huge effect since a) he was good but not great last year and b) he is basically replacing the minutes of a guy who was about as good as he was last year. Is b) a controversial statement? Yeah, probably, so I would like to compare the two last year and show how not crazy is the notion that Omer Asik was Dwight Hoard's equal last year.

The following graphic is meant to indicate the effect Asik and Howard had on each of his team's 4 Factors. It does this by showing the differential between how the team performs with the player on versus off the court. This graphic is for defense, so negative numbers are good for eFG%, ORB% and FT/FGA, but bad for TOV%:


And here is the same comparison for offense, so positive numbers are good for eFG%, ORB% and FT/FTA but bad for TOV%:


Any analysis this crude has some major caveats to go with it, but given how much better Asik performed than Howard by this method, and given how much better Asik looked than Howard last year, I do not think it is unreasonable to suggest that they possessed equivalent value last season.

Perhaps there is reason to believe Dwight will do better than this in 2013-14. It was hard to find information about basketball players with herniated disks, but I found this one about baseball players and it has a couple good ideas to draw from.

First is that Dwight's recovery time was insane. It was almost half of what it is normal for an MLB hitter whose herniated disk is surgically repaired (11.7 months to get back on the field). So it seems like most of Dwight's numbers from last season can be dismissed as in-game rehab. Gary Vitti agrees. And I think there is some statistical argument for this as well. Here is a table comparing some of Dwight's per36 numbers. I picked the last 16 games of 2012-13 because these came roughly after the 11 month anniversary of his surgery, and I picked the 2011 season because this was the last completely healthy season for Dwight.








First 60 Games 2012-13








Final 16 Games 2012-13








2010-11 Season








This does seem to support the idea that Dwight got better as the season went along, but it also shows that peak Dwight has yet to return. If Houston is going to contend I think the Rockets will either need peak Dwight or they will need a canny trade to move Asik for another comparable but less duplicative piece. The idea of Dwight and Omer sharing the court leaves me skeptical.


45 Wins

Notables In:

Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, DeJuan Blair, Wayne Ellington

Notables Out:

O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Rodrigue Beaubois

Best Value Large Contract:

Jose Calderon ($1,125,808 per Win)

Worst Value Large Contract:

Dirk Nowitzki ($3,108,757 per Win)

Best Value Small Contract:

DeJuan Blair ($390,703 per Win)

Worst Value Small Contract:

Brandan Wright ($1,613,657 per Win)

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry were the most potent pick and pop duo of the last decade. So you cannot help but wonder if the Mavs envision either Jose Calderon or Monta Ellis in the Terry role. Mavs brass are welcome to envision this, but I do not think it is going to work that way unless Mark Cuban finds a way to fuse Monta and Jose's DNA and clone an adult from the product.

Calderon is a brilliant shooter who cannot attack the basket any more than Kyle Korver can. And Ellis is a dynamic slasher who isn't really close to the shooter that Terry was: Terry was good from three and elite from midrange; Ellis is good from midrange and bad from three. The best argument I can think of for Ellis providing a close facsimile of Terry's play comes from Ersan Ilyasova's numbers last year with and without Ellis:



Ersan w/Ellis



Ersan w/out Ellis



Still, even if neither Ellis nor Calderon is able to mimic completely Terry's synergy with Nowitzki, those guys are decent players and they're going to help win games.

If I were a Mavericks fan, this offseason-- this strategy of wasting another year of Dirk running with a bunch of average type vets-- would really frustrate me. Especially after last season. But as an outsider, I kind of feel like this is going to be a fun team to watch. I think this is a really well put together, average basketball team.


40 Wins

Notables In:

Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Greg Stiemsma, Anthony Morrow

Notables Out:

Greivis Vazquez, Robin Lopez

Best Value Large Contract:

Anthony Davis ($664,910 per Win)

Worst Value Large Contract:

Eric Gordon ($3,374,501 per Win)

Best Value Small Contract:

Al-Farouq Aminu ($586,231 per Win)

Worst Value Small Contract:

Austin Rivers (son of Doc Rivers)

What a weird team. Did you know Jrue Holiday is three months younger than Jeff Withey? I don't entirely know what to make of Holiday. There is such a large gap between the kinds of tools he shows (outstanding) and the results he gets (pretty average. Yeah I know he made an All Star game but so did Chris Kaman). You look at him and he has great size, he can shoot, handle the ball, pass, use his body well, brings defensive intensity, hits the boards well.... And yet, again, pretty-okay-but-not-that-great results.

I know a lot of Pelican fans are hoping the Jrue Holiday they get is the guy we saw prior to the All Star break when Holiday averaged 19/9 on 45 percent from the field. I think they will get their wish. Holiday's FG% dropped like a rock after the break, but that was mostly due to an aberrational dip in his shooting percentage from 10 feet to just inside the three point line. He is a career +40% shooter from those distances. The problem is that these were fairly empty numbers to begin with, as Holiday needed 17 FGA per game to get those 19 points and he turned the ball over 4 times a game in pursuit of those points and assists.

When you watch Holiday it seems like defense should be his bread and butter, but it is actually pretty hard to come up with evidence that Holiday is a great defender. Good, but not great. Among perimeter players recording at least 2000 minutes last year, Holiday was 26th in defensive Win Shares. Per he had an individual DRtg of 102 on a team with a DRtg of 103. His defensive xRAPM is only +0.5 (plus is good here). About the only evidence I can find that Holiday is a great defender comes from his phenomenal on/off splits from 2012-13, but those are likely a consequence of the fact that Holiday's backup, Maalik Wayns, may have been the worst defensive player in the league last year.

I still believe in Holiday's potential though. To me he seems almost like an unrealized, PG version of Paul George (size, athleticism, defensive intensity, range shooting, ball handling on the one hand; terrible FT rate, shaky decision making, offensive inconsistency on the other).

Stats courtesy of:

Basketball Reference


Hickory High

Team Rankings




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