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A Survey of Non-Elite Power Forwards

This thought exercise is as much for my own personal prejudices as it is for your consumption.

Drew Gooden overtook Shareef Abdur-Rahim as the best per-minute scorer of the bunch this season. Gooden has been the best rebounder of the group for three seasons. Gooden is statistically the best all-around player, and his peak several years ago is slightly lower than Shareef's early 20s peak.

The numbers hidden in the above survey:

Shareef turns 31 on December 11.
Kenny turns 30 on July 25.

Gooden turns 26 on September 24.

Everything we know about aging in basketball says the performance of Shareef and Kenny will decline, all other things being equal. Gooden may still improve, Gooden may decline... but we are fairly certain Shareef and Kenny will decline.

Judging by the numbers, Gooden is a good bet to perform better than both Shareef and Kenny over the next two years. (Gooden's contract runs two more years; both Shareef and Kenny's contracts run for three more years.)

Of course, this trade isn't Drew Gooden for Kenny Thomas or Drew Gooden for Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The answer in either one would be incredibly obvious. The question is this: Is the upgrade for two seasons worth giving up Mike Bibby's production?

This is where a whole host of other factors comes in. What's the other piece Sacramento will get back? Who plays point guard? What will be the total cap dollars savings of the move? How many minutes will Justin Williams have taken away? Will you be able to move either Kenny or Shareef? How does this affect the 2009 timeline? We can't even begin talking about those factors. All we can rationally measure right now is what we've done above -- how much better will Gooden be than Shareef and Kenny? Even that analysis relies on a whole lot more than what we've looked at -- there's no telling what kind of rebound numbers Gooden will get on this statistically odd team, or whether he's usage rate adjustment will affect his shooting percentages and scoring production.

It's clear Gooden is an upgrade. At this point, I don't think the upgrade is large enough to ship out Bibby. In my opinion, there needs to be a serious asset in addition to Drew coming back.

I have a feeling we'll know soon.