Friday, July 13, 2007

Ranking the Small Forwards in the NBA

This is totally objective and can be argued. However, the point of this is where does Rashard Lewis rank in small forwards in the NBA. In other words, how did Orlando decide to offer this guy the Max Contract. When we (Kevin Pelton and Francis Williams) did our Top 100 players in the NBA Rashard was in the 30's.

Update: Shawn Marion has been added to the list. I orginally had him as a power forward in Phoenix system.

Rank (Pts, Rebs, Ass) (EFG% - Locke Off Ranking)
1) LeBron James (27/7/6) (55% - 19.9)
2) Paul Pierce (25/6/4 ) (57% - 23.9)
3) Shaun Marion (18/10/2) (59% - 19.4)
4) Carmelo Anthony (29/6/4) (55% - 22.6)
5) Josh Howard (19/7/2) (55% - 15.4)
6) Rashard Lewis (22/7/2) (59% - 22.7)
7) Andre Iguodala (18/6/6) (56% - 14.8)
8) Luol Deng (19/7/3) (56% - 16.0)
9) Gerald Wallace (18/7/3) (57% - 17.0)
10) Richard Jefferson (16/4/3) (55% - 14.0)
11) Ron Artest (19/7/3) (54% - 12.6)
12) Caron Butler (19/7/3) (54% - 12.0)
13) Tayshawn Prince (14/5/3) (53% - 9.7)

I placed Rashard 6th and maybe he could be 4th, (Howard wins) but he also could be very easily somewhere around 9th depending how you weigh defense in the equation. I think Iguodala will be #4 on this list at this time next year he averaged 20/6/6 for the second half of the season plus two steals. After Feb 1st Wallace average 21/8/3 shooting over 50%. Finally, Deng averaged 22/9/2 in the playoffs. In many people's analysis these three could be ahead of Rashard making him 9th. For that matter, unless Lewis takes another step he could easily be somewhere from 7th to 9th at this position.

Does that mean Orlando made a mistake or does that mean the NBA model is such that a Top 5 player at his position gets Max money?


courtsense said...

In terms of all-around skill and the ability to positively impact the game for their teams in a variety of ways, Deng and Igoudala and Wallace are all clearly superior to Lewis.

For better or worse, Rashard is a 6-10 jumpshooter who occasionally strays into the paint for a post-up, who has shown a propensity to disappear when matched up inferior players, and who contributes nothing if he's not scoring.

At best, Rashard is the 9th best player at his position...and the Magic just coughed up max money.


Dawgfan1980 said...

The whole problem is the Salary Cap is set up in such a way that you can really only have two max contract players, and now with Lewis and D. Howard, the Magic are locked in with those two to build a team around.

Did they make a mistake? Maybe not.

Howard, who still is getting better, will be a force down low, and will command double teams. That leaves Rashard open for jumpers. The question is can Lewis elevate his games in other areas, and does Howard down low help cover up some of his weaknesses?

The answer now is that the Magic overpaid for the best free agent out there, and sometimes you have to do that if you think you need to win soon to get butts in the seats.

The system isn't flawed, it is all about supply and demand.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, David. I appreciate your insights and your info. That's not just blather. This was in the Seattle Times on Tuesday and near as I can tell it's not only wrong - it was 180 degrees off. So, we hope you stay around.

"The Sonics and Orlando Magic completed a sign-and-trade deal involving Rashard Lewis that benefits all parties.


The deal allows Orlando to spread Lewis' contract out over six years, ease its financial burden and perhaps retain free-agent forward Darko Milicic. Last week, Lewis, his agent Tony Dutt and Orlando general manager Otis Smith agreed on a maximum contract that would have given the 6-foot-10 small forward a five-year, $97 million deal."

courtsense said...

"Does that mean Orlando made a mistake or does that mean the NBA model is such that a Top 5 player at his position gets Max money?"

Interesting question, Locke...

Without going through all the best players at each position to figure out who is/isn't presently getting Max money, I'd say it may well be that both choices are true:

1) the Magic made a mistake - or more precisely, a tactical error - by negotiating against themselves, with a little help from Mr. Dutt and Mr. Presti. The result being they got the right player at the wrong price.

2) the NBA model probably is Max money for Top 5 players at each position. But even if we concede that is apparently the mindset for most teams, then the next question becomes this:

3) Is Max money for Top 5 players a desirable and sustainable and successful model for a franchise to follow? In other words, if your team is fortunate enough to have more than one Top 5 player - does it still behoove you to give Max money to each Top 5 player on your team?

Can you win a championship that way, like Miami? Can you win 3 or 4 like the Spurs? Can you win 5 or 6 like Jordan's Bulls or Magic's Lakers?

The proverbial elephant in the room is the "San Antonio model."
They have arguably 3 Top 5 players in Duncan, Ginobli and Parker, but only 1 of them is now getting (or will likely ever get) Max money. At least as long as they stay in San Antonio...because Popovich and Buford and ownership have their model, which is Duncan surrounded by some great talent (Manu and TP) and some complementary talent, but the bottom line is it's the right talent at the right price.

I think it's a great strategy if you can pull it off, and if you have the right guys. For Seattle, Durant is obviously a great place to start...he's your #1. Can Green be a Top 10 "combo forward" in a few years? Who will Presti get for the other pieces? Can't wait to find out...

A final thought: a lot of people locally have ridiculed the whole idea of Presti copying the "Spurs Model" by saying "it only works for San Antonio because they have Duncan - take him away and it all falls apart." But that misses the point of what the model really is: the model isn't "get Tim Duncan, win multiple NBA Titles."

The model is: get 1 All-NBA, Very Best/Cornerstone/Superstar player, surround him with the right pieces which includes a couple other key guys who will play for less than Max money, and rotate the rest of the complementary players every 2-3 years as needed. Do not overpay.

I would suggest there is no such thing as overpaying for a true franchise player. Max money is a bargain for a multiple MVP and multiple championship player like Duncan or Shaq or Jordan or Magic or...maybe even a Kevin Durant.

(In contrast to the Spurs, look at Phoenix: Nash, Marion, and Amare probably all deserve Top 5/Max money. But that team will never win a Title for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that for all that talent and all that money, they haven't built the right kind of team that can reel off 3 or 4 championships.)

It's a great debate. We'll see how it all unfolds with Presti, Durant and the Sonics.

Anonymous said...

Lewis 19th on salary right now. After 08 and 09 free agents mostly re-up at higher pay from current teams Lewis may fall back toward 25-30th on pay. That may be market for his talent.He just got paid now.

Orlando still overpaid, unless NY or somebody was lurking to offer the 6 year S&T and swipe him from them.

Courtsense is right that San Antonio benefitted from having 3 all-star talents at 1 supermax level and 2 near younger max tobe able to fit all 3 under their budget. They are a small market team but importnatly still spent $65 million this year. Parker and Ginobli were far greater bargains before on first contracts. Bowen was a bargain compared to what you'd have to pay for a great defensive center. If Sonics can get or have a great defensive wing who can cover 2-4 that is an important thing worth copying from Spurs. Still need a 2 way strong big on the inside to succeed fully. Durant might grow into that but if he stays a wing that makes championship tougher and the search for a Duncan like piece will continue here.

RJ said...

When new tv money kicks in next summer max salary will rise, perhaps taking a significant step up (not sure on this).
There probably will be more $100+ million plus deals after a lull after league went overboard with them 5-8 years ago. Comparing Lewis to older such deals is ignoring salary creep and thus somewhat unfair.

But Lewis to G Wallace contract remains a fair criticism.

Jeremy said...


I'm just not a fan of the traditional rankings that you have rolled out here. It's more realistic to use tiers.

I find it surprising that you left Shawn Marion off this list as he should be in the top tier of players with James, Anthony and Pierce.

The difference between those 4 and the next group is much greater than the difference between those guys.

The next tier is the rest of the guys you have on the list. I usually have Rashard somewhere from 10th-15th because of his defense.

To me, he's clearly not a max player and the most I probably would have gone on him would have been 6/60.

He's essentially the new Detlef Schrempf or Peja Stojakovic. Both were effective as 3rd options on their team but both struggled when asked to be a franchise player. Rashard's game is the same.

The Magic will have to get lucky to make a championship run.

EJ said...

Hey Locke, Nice to know you're still connecting with the fans. I was totally going to miss your statistical analysis of the sonics and was bummed the ownership bumped you out.

About the SF list, how did shawn marion not make this list? I would think he's somewhere around 6 - 8.