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February 16, 2010
Rating the Rumored
Breaking Down the Top Players on the Block

by Kevin Pelton


You've heard their names in trade rumors for most of February, if not longer. But how much do you really know about the players most likely to be moved before Thursday's trade deadline? Basketball Prospectus puts a starting lineup of five of the biggest names on the block under the microscope.

Player        Win%   WARP    TS%    Usg   Reb%   Ast%   SB%
Camby         .647    7.7   .497   13.2   22.7    4.3   7.0
Hinrich       .428    0.4   .474   17.4    6.0    6.2   2.4
Iguodala      .562    6.4   .523   21.7   10.2    6.5   3.5
Jamison       .522    3.5   .529   24.3   12.9    1.5   1.8
Stoudemire    .518    3.9   .610   25.6   13.7    1.3   2.9

Marcus Camby, C, L.A. Clippers

With Brendan Haywood in Dallas, the best short-term rental option in the middle is Camby, who makes little sense at this point for a Clippers team that has slipped 10 games below .500 and headed into the All-Star break on a four-game losing streak. With an expiring contract, Camby can help a team now without hurting the balance sheet going forward.

Now in his 14th season, Camby will be 36 in March, but his production has held up remarkably well in two seasons since being traded to the Clippers. The one place he has dropped off is in terms of his shot blocking, which can be explained by a combination of two factors. First, Camby was getting a healthy boost from friendly scorers at the Pepsi Center (they've since turned their attention to Chris Andersen). The difference in his block rate per 40 minutes on the road from 3.6 in 2007-08 to 2.5 this season can probably be largely attributed to playing alongside Chris Kaman, meaning slightly less responsibility for help defense.

Camby has been stronger than ever on the glass, pulling down a career-best 22.7 percent of available rebounds and essentially one in three opponent misses (33.1 percent of available defensive rebounds). Both marks lead the league. Camby does have some issues defensively in terms of stepping out on the perimeter and playing the pick-and-roll, but he is an excellent defensive anchor who would upgrade most teams in the middle.

After posting an impressive .556 True Shooting Percentage during his first season in L.A., Camby has slipped back to the near-50 percent range he settled in at with the Nuggets. Hoopdata.com's numbers show that Camby benefited from a temporary uptick in his accuracy at the rim in 2008-09. However, he's likely to improve the 27.0 percent of attempts he's hitting from 16-23 feet. While Camby has never been quite accurate enough to justify the number of long twos he takes, he's made between 35 and 37 percent of them the previous three seasons. Camby's free throw percentage should also bounce back, making him more efficient than he has been so far.

Kirk Hinrich, G, Chicago

The Bulls have caught fire since making Hinrich a starter, going 15-8 when he opens a game. With an eye toward cap space next summer, Chicago could still move Hinrich's contract, which extends through the 2011-12 season. Hinrich may be more valuable elsewhere with an opportunity to play point guard rather than off the ball alongside Derrick Rose, which doesn't take full advantage of his ballhandling ability. Hinrich is, as I've noted in the past, an especially good fit with a creative shooting guard because he can be a dangerous spot-up shooter but can help share ballhandling responsibilities.

The big question for teams kicking the tires on Hinrich will be understanding why his shooting numbers are down this season. After shooting 36.4 percent from the field in calendar 2009, he's rebounded a bit but not back to his career marks. Hinrich's three-point accuracy has bounced around quite a bit over the years, but his two-point percentage had been more solidly at 44.0 percent or better before slipping to 39.6 percent this year, the worst he's shot inside the arc since his rookie season.

Turning again to Hoopdata's numbers, a pretty significant chunk of the difference comes from Hinrich's accuracy around the rim dropping from the range of 55-59 percent to 43.5 percent this year. That's on 69 shot attempts, so it's almost certainly a fluke. Hinrich will only be an efficient option on offense when he's hitting his threes at a high percentage (that seems to be every other year), but he's not as bad as he looks this season.

Hinrich has an outstanding defensive reputation, and I've been on board with that. It's a little tougher to find evidence of Hinrich's defensive prowess in the numbers this year. The Bulls are merely slightly better on defense with Hinrich on the floor this year and opponents have been 4.1 percent more productive than normal against him by NBAPET's numbers, as opposed to 6.4 percent less productive a year ago. Given the variability in defensive statistics, I'm not inclined to read too much into that. Hinrich put on a defensive clinic in last year's playoff series with Boston, and I haven't seen anything this year to indicate he's dropped off.

Andre Iguodala, G/F, Philadelphia

My intuition about Iguodala's season does not entirely match the numbers. My suspicion was the drop in his True Shooting Percentage (a robust 56.0 percent a year ago, but just 52.3 percent this year) could be traced to him chafing in the role of go-to player and the 76ers slowing things down under Eddie Jordan. Neither is really supported by the statistics. Iguodala is actually using fewer of the team's possessions this year than last, and his usage rate peaked in 2007-08 (24.0 percent) before the arrival of Elton Brand. And while Philadelphia teams of recent vintage had a reputation for running (at least, again, before Brand), the 76ers have ranked about the same in pace since 2006-07--right about 20th in the league. They're 22nd this year.

Instead, the story the numbers seem to be telling is one of Iguodala missing Andre Miller. Remember, Iguodala's emergence as a top option on offense for Philadelphia came at the same time the 76ers added Miller in exchange for Allen Iverson. It seems that Miller's ability to create easy looks for Iguodala--especially early in the shot clock--helped prop up Iguodala's offensive numbers.

First, back to Hoopdata.com. Iguodala's accuracy at the rim, a phenomenal 73.0 percent a year ago, has slipped to 62.8 percent this year. More troubling is that he's getting an entire shot attempt a night less at the rim, since attempts tend to be less prone to random variation than makes. Meanwhile, Iguodala is taking more long twos and threes, shots on which he does not exactly thrive.

82games.com offers some additional context with its breakdown of player shooting by time on the shot clock. Igudoala is getting as many attempts as last year in the first 10 seconds of the clock, but their quality has diminished. His effective field-goal percentage in the first 10 seconds is down from 61.4 percent to 52.3 percent.

Overall, this tends to match the conventional wisdom that Igudoala isn't really a lead option on offense and needs someone else to create for him, especially in the open court. That all makes the chance he might be paired with Steve Nash very interesting. Miller is a good passer, especially in transition, but Nash is one of the best in NBA history. It's easy to see Iguodala filling a role as a smaller Shawn Marion in Phoenix, getting buckets in transition, hitting just enough threes to remain useful in the half-court offense and upgrading the Suns at the other end of the floor. Dealing Amar'e Stoudemire for Iguodala would create some size issues for Phoenix in the short term. (Would Grant Hill move to the four?) Still, Iguodala would be a great fit and could reenergize the Suns.

Antawn Jamison, F, Washington

In the midst of a turbulent pair of seasons for the Wizards, Jamison deserves a lot of credit for being the team's rock and continuing to play high-level basketball. He's taken a slight step backward this season, but at the age of 33 that kind of gentle decline is hardly reason for concern. Jamison is still aging remarkably well, hitting his career high in WARP in 2007-08 at 31.

There are a couple of mild concerns about Jamison's game beyond his age. First, aside from 2007-08, he's been a below-average rebounder for a power forward. He's not exactly a liability in this regard, but given the criticism Stoudemire takes for his rebounding, it's a little odd we never hear the same thing about Jamison. (As a former small forward, maybe Jamison is graded on a curve, but his days of playing on the wing are long gone.)

Second, Jamison is a good enough shooter to space the floor as a power forward but you probably don't want him attempting a lot more three-pointers than he is now (19.6 percent of his possessions) since he's just a 34.5 percent shooter from downtown and has been around that level the last four campaigns. The strength of Jamison's game is scoring inside and out. Should he end up in Cleveland, the Cavaliers will need to be creative to make sure they're not using him merely on the perimeter.

Jamison's other primary skill that will travel well wherever he ends up is his ability to score without turning over the basketball. The last two seasons, he's committed turnovers on precisely 7.1 percent of his possessions. Average for a power forward is 12.1 percent.

Amar'e Stoudemire, F/C, Phoenix

With Stoudemire apparently most likely headed to Cleveland, the question being asked is whether he can coexist with Shaquille O'Neal after that same frontcourt pairing was a bust in Phoenix. Stoudemire himself weighed in on Twitter Monday, posting, "I play very well w/Shaq. I averaged more pts last year WITH him & played better D. You guys can stop saying we don't play well together."

I'm sure he means two years ago, but I agree with Stoudemire to a point. The funny thing is, when O'Neal first joined the Suns, the talk was about how much he opened things up for Stoudemire, who played some of the best basketball of his career in 2007-08. When I investigated Stoudemire's value before last year's trade deadline, I attributed the drop-off in Stoudemire's stats more to Terry Porter's offense than O'Neal's presence. Also worth noting is that Stoudemire is a better midrange shooter than he gets credit for being. Hoopdata.com shows him making long twos at between 45-48 percent the last four seasons, which is excellent for a big man. He can do an adequate job of spacing the floor when he's not involved in the pick-and-roll.

Where I think the issues with the Stoudemire-O'Neal pairing are more legitimate is at the defensive end of the floor. While Phoenix improved on offense in 2007-08 after O'Neal's arrival, the Suns tanked on defense, and last year's squad came up short at that end of the floor too. Because O'Neal's mobility is limited, the Cavaliers need their power forward to chip in with help defense, and that has always been a weakness for Stoudemire.

While Stoudemire and O'Neal fitting together on offense is good news for the Cavaliers, it must give Stoudemire's other suitors pause. What, then, is the explanation for why Stoudemire's numbers are so far down since his transcendent 2007-08 season? With Alvin Gentry running the show, Steve Nash playing as well as ever at the point and Channing Frye around to space the floor, this season presented an ideal scenario for Stoudemire to put up big numbers that simply haven't materialized. Stoudemire hasn't scored poorly per se, but he needs to do even more to justify being considered a superstar because the rest of his game is limited.

Again, Hoopdata.com points to finishing. The last two seasons, Stoudemire has made 65.0 and 66.3 percent of his attempts at the rim. You'd expect more from a player with Stoudemire's freakish athleticism, and indeed he made 73.0 percent at the rim in 2007-08. Was that his high-water mark? Within the next few days, some team will surely be taking a major gamble it was not.

Join Kevin as well as Bradford Doolittle, Anthony Macri and Hoopdata.com's Tom Haberstroh to discuss the NBA trade deadline live this Thursday starting at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
The List (02/16)
Next Article >>
Tuesday Truths (02/16)

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2010-02-18 - Transaction Analysis: Deadline-Day Deals
2010-02-17 - Transaction Analysis: Jamison to Cleveland
2010-02-16 - Transaction Analysis: Camby to Portland
2010-02-16 - Rating the Rumored: Breaking Down the Top Pl...
2010-02-15 - Back and Forth: The NBA at the Break
2010-02-13 - Transaction Analysis: Dallas-Washington
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