FanPost

Killing the Hydra

From the FanPosts. -- TZ

The biggest current issue facing our new-look Kings is how to kill the hydra at small forward. There are now 5 (five!) prototypical small forwards on the roster. Sure, Donte Greene can slide down to play power forward in stretches. Francisco Garcia and John Salmons can play shooting guard, but I think that Paul Westphal prefers both players at the 3. As Ziller pointed out, Tyler Honeycutt could be a major talent and his skills are exactly what we are looking for. But he's not going to get ANY minutes trying to play behind the older and more experienced heads of the beast. The second symptom of this disease is that we're going to submarine the trade value of whichever 2 or 3 players don't really play next season by sitting them on the bench.

The obvious solution is that SOMEBODY needs to be moved. But who, and for what? We've all seen our boys perform well in stretches, but our cumulative opinions are largely swayed by our players' likeability and particularly remarkable performances, whether they are few or common. Let's take a look at their advanced stats and try to organize a ranking. Not to decide who's best, but to decide who's worst.

For current Kings I will use their stats from last season, but I'll try to point out if those stats look like outliers or not. For Mr. Salmons, I'll use his career averages, as we don't know how he'll fit in with these current players and this current system. We also know that he was limited last year by some injuries. I'll leave Honeycutt out of this project because I don't think he's someone that we're considering moving at this point, and his college stats probably aren't hugely reliable.

Many thanks to basketball-reference.com for the stats. Great website

Offense:

True Shooting %: Basically FG% but taking into account free throws and 3-pointers

Cisco is the most effective and efficient shooter of the four. His rating here would make him highest on the team last year after you subtract Beno. Donte brings up the rear in this category, which ties him for last place with Tyreke (of players that played at least 1,000 minutes) and just a frog hair below DeMarcus (The Cornerstones, everyone!). Omri and Donte both climbed over .500 last year, but dipped this year. Salmons has grown more efficient over the course of his career, but was down last year. Salmons' career TS% would put him 3rd on the Kings behind Marcus and Cisco. His 3 point percentage has climbed over the years as well and he shot the ball from 3 better last year than anyone on the Kings, and shot over 40% on threes his last year in black and purple.

Best: Cisco       Worst: Donte

Cisco - .551   Salmons - .540   Casspi - .517   Donte - .482

Usage Rate: Percentage of team possessions used by the player while on the floor

I like my SF's (for this team) to have a low usage rate, leaving plenty of room for DMC and Reke (and Jimmer) to get in reps and grow as players. All four players are close here, between 16.7 and 18.3. Salmons has the highest rate, but not by much. Omri has the lowest rate. It took a serious dip this season which I think is the main factor leading to his "slump". All of his numbers dipped as a result of being left out of the offense more in 2010-2011. I think this lead to him trying to do too much whenever he DID get the ball. A perfect storm of suckitude for Omri. This category is largely a wash. These guys aren't primary ballhandlers, so they won't really be the ones determining their usage rate. That's more in the hands of Tyreke, Jimmer, and Westphal. Slight nod to Omri here.

Best: Omri       Worst: Salmons

Casspi - 16.7   Cisco - 17.3   Donte - 18.2   Salmons - 18.3

Turnover %: Estimate of turnovers per 100 plays

I think we can all agree that we would prefer that the SF's on this team be defensive stalwarts that hit open threes and generally stay out of the way on offense. Failing that, at the very least, don't turn it over! These guys vary quite a bit on how well they care for the ball. Salmons, while the worst in this category, has improved over the last few years, although his injury-riddled 10-11 campaign was... not good. Cisco on the other hand knocks this one out of the park, and has reduced his turnover percentage in every season he's had. Donte and Omri have remained pretty consistent in this area. All four men do significantly better in this category than the Kings' worst culprits, Sammy, DMC & Reke.

Best: Cisco       Worst: Salmons

Cisco - 8.1%   Casspi -10.3%   Donte - 12.6%   Salmons - 13.6%

Assist %: Percentage of assists the player dished out per possession while on the floor.

Much has been made of John "The Black Hole" Salmons. I have been one of the people trumpeting this case. But let's dive in to the numbers to see how his passing ability fleshes out compared to our other SF's. Turns out, he doesn't just fare well here, he annihilates the field. Our eyeballs have been lying to us. His assist percentage is nearly twice that of Cisco and nearly three times as high as Donte/Omri. My eyeballs tell me that he pounds the rock WAY too much and loathes passing, but according to this statistic, he's much less of a black hole than our other SF's. He's not nearly on the level of Tyreke or Beno, but he's also not really supposed to be. Donte and Omri are pretty terrible here, rarely setting up their teammates for easy scores.

Best: Salmons (!)       Worst: Omri & Donte

Salmons - 15.4%   Cisco - 8.0%   Casspi - 6.6%   Donte - 6.5%

Player Efficiency Rating (PER):

John Hollinger's system (mainly offensive) rates Cisco and Salmons at the top of the pile, with Donte bringing up the rear (starting to sound like a trend?). Salmons has improved over his career, so probably going forward will rate higher in this category than Cisco. If Hollinger were picking our team, I assure you that Donte would be left off the roster, with a worse PER than anyone not named Antoine Wright.

Best: Salmons & Cisco        Worst: Donte

Salmons - 13.1   Cisco - 13.5   Casspi - 11.7   Donte - 9.7

Offensive Rating: Purely a scoring metric, designed to look at points produced per 100 possessions

This is another way to measure offensive performance, which somewhat closely matches what you'd expect to see at this point.

Best: Cisco       Worst: Donte

Cisco - 113   Salmons/Casspi (tie) - 106    Donte - 97

Defense:

We all know that defense is not defined by blocks and steals, but the more data the better, right? So we'll quickly look at these categories.

Steal %: Percentage of opponent possessions that end with a steal by the player while on the floor

All four small forwards rate pretty equal in steals, with the slight edge given to (surprise!) Cisco. In another surprise, Casspi and Greene have exactly the same steal percentage, while Donte is widely considered to be the superior defender. Salmons is about middle of the road here. I'm a little shocked that Cisco ranks so favorably here, over better-regarded man defenders in Donte and Salmons.

Best: Cisco       Worst: Donte & Omri

Cisco - 1.9   Salmons - 1.7   Donte/Casspi (tie) - 1.6

Block %: Percentage of opponent possessions that end with a block by the player while on the floor

No big surprises here. We already knew that Cisco is a phenomenal blocker for his position. Last year he had an astonishing 2.6 block rate. Donte has also been pretty good in this area with his superior size, but he couldn't even come close to Francisco. Salmons and Casspi are largely unspectacular in this area.

Best: Cisco       Worst: Omri

Cisco - 2.6   Donte - 1.3    Salmons - 0.8   Casspi - 0.6

Total Rebound %: Percentage of available rebounds grabbed by the player while on the floor

Strong rebounding from the SF position is always a bonus. It's a must if your post men are bad rebounders. Thankfully that's not something we need to worry about, so long as DMC, JT, and Dally all remain in the fold. But it's still worth pointing out the merits of this skill. Unsurprisingly, Casspi excels here. His rate is almost twice that of the worst rebounder, Cisco. This is the one area where Francisco really falls behind his teammates and Omri shines. Cisco has decreased in this area over his career. However, last year (his worst rebounding year), he also put up the largest number of 3 pointers, which he shot at a solid clip. Donte rates out OK here, but I'd certainly expect him to destroy this category with great size and strength, which is disappointing (again).

Best: Casspi       Worst: Cisco

Casspi - 10.3   Donte - 7.4   Salmons - 6.7    Cisco - 5.5

Defensive Rating: Estimate of points allowed by the player per 100 possessions

Not a hugely reliable statistic in my mind, but is another attempt to rank players by their defensive abilities. Salmons scores decently here, while Donte brings up the rear, again.

Best: Salmons       Worst: Donte

Salmons - 108   Cisco/Casspi (tie) -109   Donte - 110

Intangibles:

Fit:

Obviously Salmons isn't going anywhere anytime soon. PW wanted him here, and wanted him starting at small forward. Besides, he is a plus defender and a decent 3-point shooter, so his fit should theoretically be good. The real question is who is going to soak up the minutes behind him. Omri Casspi is young and what I consider a pure small forward. I would not feel comfortable with him in the post or at the 2, so flexibility is limited. He's a good 3 point shooter which is a good fit in our dribble-drive Tyreke/Marcus offense and our DMC low-post passing game. Donte can play 2 positions, but hasn't been given much opportunity to play the 4. If we keep all three of our foul-prone big men, he is a good fit because he can slide down there for spot minutes. However, his miserable 3 point shooting is a problem. I think that Cisco is a prototypical 3, but can slide over to play 2-guard in stretches, which would be good if we keep a 3 guard rotation on the wings and PW isn't in love with Thomas or Pooh. The truth is, however, that all three players could excel in that bench role as long as they can swallow their pride and play their role.

Team/Franchise Morale:

I think that Cisco is the obvious winner of this category. He brings veteran leadership that we have at exactly zero other positions. Salmons is quiet and reserved. I don't consider Dalembert much of an emotional leader, and the rest of our boys are very young. Cisco also seems like best friends with everyone else on the team. If there are attitude issues with our stars, they would probably be a lot worse if Cisco were jettisoned. Donte has an ebullient attitude which I love having on the team. And Omri is extremely fiery, especially if the team is on a run late in a game. However, Omri might become a poison if his minutes decrease. His public trade request (or whatever it was) is still stuck in my craw. He was one of my favorite players before that. Hey Omri, it's your second year, learn to keep your head down and take less shitty shots, then we can talk about going to a contender, OK?

Contract:

Obviously Salmons has the albatross that we won't be moving in the next couple of years. Cisco has the next largest contract, nearly 6 million for the next two years and then a team option for the year after that. However, we'll be able to clear that contract from the books before Tyreke, Demarcus, or possibly Omri would need to be extended. Donte and Omri are both on rookie deals. Donte has one more guaranteed year and Omri has two more. Omri is on one of the most affordable contracts for the longest period of time. But I don't believe that any of the three contracts are going to handcuff us in any significant way.

Verdict:

John Hollinger's crappy PER rating for Donte backs up everything I'm seeing in the other stats. He's the worst shooter of the bunch, turns the ball over a lot, has a decently high usage rate, shoots the three the worst, and doesn't set up his teammates well. But he's a good defender, right? Well, not so fast. He doesn't stand out with steals or blocks, and rebounds significantly worse than the shorter Omri, who is also a better shooter. His defensive rating is the worst of the bunch. I acknowledge that he had to defend some of the best offensive players while on the court. But I think the overall look of the stats show that if not a bad defender, he certainly isn't exceptional in any way. He has a good attitude (well, at least a fun attitude), but who knows how high his basketball IQ is. My eyes tell me that he doesn't have what it takes to be a real contributor, and the stats back me up to a large extent.

On the other end of the scale, Cisco looks kind of awesome. The common view is that he was largely unremarkable this year, but he's the best shooter of the bunch, provides the most leadership, takes care of the ball and has a decent PER. In addition, he is a spirited defender (if not great), and he is phenomenal at blocking. His contract would be difficult to move anyway, so I say keep him! I think that most of us get fatigued by long-term players that don't explode into super-stardom, and thus get more excited about young guys that might blossom. I believe that the truth here is that Cisco is our best SF, statistically speaking, and if not starting, he should at least be getting significant minutes. I'd like to point out that the most common knock on Cisco is that he gives us a couple bone-headed plays each game. But the stats show that he takes care of the ball better than ANYONE on the team and now (without Beno), shoots the ball better than ANYONE on the team. Weird, huh?

We're not really debating Salmons here because I don't think he's going anywhere, I just wanted to post his stats for comparison's sake. So that leaves Omri. The Playa from Judaea is a decent shooter that doesn't turn the ball over much. I don't think he's a great defender but he rebounds extremely well from his position. However, while I'd love to see him succeed here, I think he has the most value as a trade chip because of his youth, upside, tenacity, and marketability. I also want to avoid further poisoning our locker room with his delusional trade dreams.

Recommendation:

Move Omri AND Donte. I would suggest trying to swing a three-teamer that would net us a big man. Possibly Omri to the Knicks, Toney Douglas to the Spurs and Dejuan Blair to the Kings. Or Douglas to the Suns and Lopez to the Kings. I don't know, probably pipe dreams, but I know that the Knicks covet Omri and are probably willing to dump Douglas. I just think we could use a big more than we could use Toney. The second step is to flip Donte for future draft considerations. I doubt he nets us much more than that. I personally think the best case scenario would be to move both and receive a high-mid draft pick for next year, a loaded draft.

At that point we would have a pretty simple rotation. The hydra would be dead. Salmons will eat up the starter's minutes. Cisco will back him up primarily but will also get minutes at guard. And this way, we'll get to see Honeycutt (Josh Smith 2.0) a little bit next year, as he'll be third on the depth chart. We'll also hopefully have an additional future draft pick, that GP can eventually use to make the big superstar trade we all dream about.


Go ahead, tear me apart. It's my first post.

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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