Jump to content

* * * - -

Blogcat's Take, 5/7

Don’t worry, I’m not going to recap Game South of Heaven 7 for you in this post. Trust me, I’d rather recap a botched nephrostomy. Instead, I want to first acknowledge and celebrate the tremendous success the Hornets had this year, and then I want to take a look at our free agent situation and start the circle-of-panic cycle anew.

Oh, what a season! Hypnotizing, mesmerizing me! 48 wins in a year in which the preseason Vegas over/under was about 32. And they did it with virtually no Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They had two gigantic marquee wins over the Cavaliers and the Spurs. And “rebuilt” isn’t a strong enough word to describe what they did to their offense; they straight-up David Bowie’d themselves. Last year, 3-pointers represented only 22.6% of Charlotte’s shot attempts, and they made just 31.8% of them. This year, they Stardusted all the way up to 3’s on 34.8% of their attempts, and the Hornets made them at a 36.2% clip. This propelled them to an unimaginable 9th in offensive rating, yet somehow they barely suffered at all on defense, where they finished 9th as well. That’s actually not even the most amazing part of the story. Take a look at the offensive and defensive RPM ratings for the top 8 Hornet minutes leaders and their ranking in their position groups (per ESPN.com):

Posted Image

Besides Kemba and Marvin on offense, and Jeremy Lamb on defense, no one else on the team put up top 10 RPM numbers at their positions. A lot of them aren’t even close! Also, Lamb only played the 7th most minutes out of anyone on the team. And yet the Hornets were a top 9 offensive/defensive team. I can’t think of better evidence of a great group of teammates responding to great coaching.

Okay, onto the panic! The Hornets have 5 key players entering free agency this summer—Nic Batum, Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, and Marvin Williams—so there is plenty of fear out there, begging me to rest in the quiet confines of my stomach pit. As usual, The Charlotte Observer is not helping things by flooding my Twitter feed with pointless breakdowns of quotes like this:

These quotes mean nothing. The Observer continues to be an annoying middle-school gossip girl, and the only things it’s missing are braces and acne. The Observer is actually worse than an adolescent busybody, because at least middle school girls can recognize sarcasm. Look at this:

Is the entire Observer staff on the autism spectrum? Anyway, I’ll leave the he-said/she-said to them. Meantime, I’m here to lay out some facts of life on you, Mrs Garrett-style, starting with Batum. Using Basketball-Reference.com’s win-shares metric, which factors in offense, defense, and total playing time (to account for injuries) all into one stat, plus age, salary, and contract status, we can get a sense of where Batum’s performance fits in among comparable players at his position. The point is to give us an idea of what his value might be going forward. None of us really knows what’s going to happen, but at least we can gain an idea of what his fair value might be, and what might constitute an overpay. Here’s Batum and the four closest players to him:

Posted Image

So I took anyone who was a small forward, within 2 years of Batum’s age, and within plus/minus 1 win-share. The first takeaway is, as always, Stan is the Man. Van Gundy has got the younger and more productive (at least by win-shares) Morris locked up for 3 more years at $5M per, and right when the salary cap ceiling is about to explode; amazing. We should also give a slightly smaller golf clap to Portland GM Neil Olshey for what he’s got with Aminu. The more relevant comparisons to Batum will be Bazemore, who is also an unrestricted free agent, and Parsons, who is expected to opt-out of the remaining year on his contract. I know the conventional wisdom is to give Batum the max, but I sure haven’t anyone say that about Parsons or Bazemore. And yet, on paper, they weren’t all that different compared to Batum. I’d be just as sad as everyone else if we can’t keep Batum, but imagine if we signed Bazemore to something like a $12M annual deal and used the extra money to get someone like Hassan Whiteside? That would sure make me feel a whole lot better.

Here’s the same exercise for Jeremy Lin:

Posted Image

The big takeaway here is the sheer volume of combo guards who are in Jeremy Lin’s age and win-share group, and the fact that many of them will also be available. In fact, I had to narrow the win-share range to just +/- 0.5, otherwise I’d be looking up contracts all day. I view this as good news in two ways: if you’re afflicted with full-blown Lin-sanity, the number of available combo guards with similar stats should drive down his asking price. On the other hand, if you’re worried that this season was merely a second flash in the pan that is Lin’s career, you can take solace in the theory that he’s relatively easily replaceable.

This takes us to Big Al:

Posted Image

This is super-interesting. There is a lot of availability at the 5-spot this summer, and many of the guys are younger, healthier, and less weed-ier than Jefferson. Hibbert’s obviously not going to get anything like the money he just earned this year; in fact, there’s a very good chance he’d be willing to play for a couple of million and some of Big Al’s stash, plus he’s two years younger. Mozgov and the Cavs have been on the outs more often than Strahan and Ripa—maybe we can lock Timofey up at a great price to be the anti-Whiteside? And imagine Smith’s gratitude if we freed him from the Sixers’ dungeon? Some of these guys aren’t in Big Al’s class in terms of offensive craftsmanship, but their careers are also not on such an obvious downtrend. And to be sure, I’d be happy if we just re-signed Jefferson, as long as it was at a significantly reduced price.

Next up is Courtney Lee, the secret sauce that GM Rich Cho spooned onto the roster to get us into the postseason:

Posted Image

Wow, one of these guys is HORRIFICALLY not like the others. It’s like looking at a police lineup of Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Ryan Gosling, and Joe Pesci. I really should just write “Shit-Show” for Wesley Matthews’ contract status. But leaving Matthews’ contract/toxic mortgage loan tranche aside, Courtney Lee was so useful, so not PJ Hairston, and most of all, so NOT Lance Stephenson that they ought to create a Courtney Lee Award and give it out on annual basis to a player who replaces a spectacular failure with mere competence and is beloved for it. For instance, the inaugural winner next year would go to whomever replaces Nick Young on the Lakers…actually, that could very well be Courtney Lee. I really don’t know where he or his salary will end up; he’s over 30, probably won’t ask for a lot, and he probably would like to hitch his wagon to a title contender. On the other hand, he probably also feels a bit of gratitude toward Cho for getting him on the last helicopter out of Memphis before it fell. Just in case this is the last we see of each other, it’s been a pleasure, C.L.

And finally… Marvin! He was a friend of mine! If there was any good news to the Hornets’ playoff crash-landing, it’s that Marv might very well have played himself right into a highly reasonable contract re-signing. But if you can get past your knee-jerk reaction of wrenching nausea over his playoff no-show and consider the entirety of the 2015-16 season, you’ll see Marvin Williams looked pleasantly visible amongst a glittering cast of his age/win-share peers:

Posted Image

Williams was in rarefied air this season; we’re talking Michael-Jackson-hyperbaric-chamber air. Even if you want to take Aldridge and Millsap out of this group (there are simply fewer win-shares to play with at this age/position group, so I threw them in there), you’ve still got a veritable superstar on this list in Melo, whom Marvin handily outplayed. Although Hornets GM Rich Cho has stated that re-signing Batum would be Charlotte’s #1 priority, Marv’s output and the scarcity of available forwards who will be on the market this summer make him arguably more of an imperative to re-up than Nic. Of course, there’s the contract year specter looming around Marvin like Mr. Robot, plus there’s his relatively advanced age, the playoff implosion, and several other variables in play; I don’t envy Cho’s task of having to juggle them all. Also, I apologize for inadvertently dragging several hideously maimed skeletons out of Charlotte’s playoff closet by including Deng on this list.

So that’s it for me until the draft—unless something weird, dumb, and/or frustrating happens, but c’mon, that never happens with this team. I hope you enjoyed my stuff this season, I hope it was humorous, and I hope some of the humor was intentional. I’d also like to think that this final post was the equivalent of 60 points on 50 shots, which means there’s only one way to end it: Blogcat out.

(Reminder: Please don’t forget to check out my e-book at the following link)
(Other Reminder: Please follow me on Twitter here)


    Great article Blogcat,


    If you have the numbers handy, How does Teletovic stack up against the Marvin Williams group?

    Teletovic was very comparable in age (30 years old) but unfortunately not production (just 3.8 win-shares). As you probably guessed, his defense basically cancels out his offense. He made $5.5M this year and is a UFA. If we can't keep Marv, he'd solve half of the problem...


    This gives me an idea for a future article: the "Victor Oladipo All-Stars." It would be the list of guys who are otherwise pretty ordinary but have completely terrorized us for years. Teletovic would probably be the starting forward.

    Alan Anderson
    Jeff Teague
    Porzingus (for now)
    Rodney stuckey

    Great article good read as all ways . If Marvin ends up too expensive. How would Cody and Frank fit in.

    Latest Forum Topics