FanPost

Our roster improved, right?

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Vlade Divac retooled the roster yet again this summer. We had a total roster flip of 16 players with 8 new guys coming in and 8 leaving. Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis, Lamar Patterson, Malachi Richardson, Garrett Temple, and Anthony Tolliver all joined the squad with Quincy Acy, James Anderson, Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler, Seth Curry, Duje Dukan, Eric Moreland, and Rajon Rondo going to new teams or heading overseas. In the 2016-2017 season we will pay approximately $40 million to these new additions. All of that money going to veterans must mean we improved, right?

That's the case that I've been arguing for the past few weeks, that there is no way that this team will be worse than last year. Coaching changes aside, we've improved the overall talent of the roster! Arron Afflalo is better than Ben McLemore! Darren Collison is better than Rajon Rondo! Our overall depth is better than last season! I decided to argue with myself (Giraffes are known to do that) and figure out if I could prove my point statistically. Obviously, stats don't tell us everything about a player or team chemistry, but they are valuable in telling us what we should expect from any given asset.

All of these statistics were pulled from basketball reference. A quick explanation of some of the terms:

Per36 -€” The statistical averages a player would achieve if he played 36 minutes (starter's time) in any given season.

eFG% - A player's adjusted field goal percentage based on the fact that a three point shot is worth more than a two point shot.

PER -€” A player's efficiency rating is a per-minute productivity calculation developed by John Hollinger. Essentially, the higher a player's PER the more efficient of a player they are on the court.

TS% - True shooting percentage takes into account a players field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.

3PAr -€” The percentage of a player's field goal attempts that come from 3-point range.

OBPM -€” (definition from basketball reference) A box score estimate of the offensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team (i.e. -€” the higher the OBPM the more effective the player is on the offensive end of the court.)

DBPM -€” (definition from basketball reference) A box score estimate of the defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team.

BPM- (definition from basketball reference) A box score estimate of the points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team.

VORP - (definition from basketball reference) A box score estimate of the points per 100 TEAM possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level (-2.0) player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season.

Player Comparisons (Starters)

Next season, our starting five should see two positional changes with Darren Collison replacing Rajon Rondo and Arron Afflalo taking the minutes of Ben McLemore. Willie Cauley-Stein, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kosta Koufos won't be included because of their lack of positional movement.

Starting PG: Rajon Rondo vs Darren Collison

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Rondo 35.2 0.454 0.365 0.479 0.494 0.58 6 11.7 2 0.1 3.9 11.9
Collison 30 0.486 0.401 0.519 0.542 0.858 2.3 4.3 1 0.1 1.8 14

Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Rondo 36 0.454 0.365 0.479 0.494 0.58 6.2 11.9 2 0.1 3.9 12.2
Collison 36 0.486 0.401 0.519 0.542 0.858 2.7 5.2 1.2 0.1 2.1 16.8

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
Rondo 16.9 0.506 0.217 48 2.7 0.3 24.7 18.8 0.8 0.2 1 1.9
Collison 15.9 0.591 0.28 21.7 1.6 0.1 12.9 19.2 1.8 -2.2 -0.4 0.9

These numbers back up what most of us know about Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison. Rondo is the better passer and rebounder while Darren is the better shooter (4% better from the field, from the 3-point line, and two-point shots) and overall scorer. One surprise was the assist to turnover ratios. As much as we complained about Rajon throwing the ball away, he actually had a better A:T ratio (3.05:1) than Collison (2.5:1). One area in which Rondo was extremely careless was when he tried to push the ball up the court; he turned the ball over 38% of the time during transition opportunities.

Although Darren had a lower A:T ratio, he also had a much lower turnover percentage. That's indicative of the fact that Collison didn't really play point guard for the Kings last year. He was used as a combo guard/undersized shooting guard. In fact, of his 2,219 minutes played he shared the court with Rondo for 1,061 of those minutes good for 48% of total playing time. For half of the season we had Collison in a position where he wasn't going to be at his maximum level of effectiveness.

Rondo had a better defensive plus minus than Collison as well as a higher steal percentage and steals per game. Unfortunately, DBPM is by no means a perfect stat as our very own Sim Bhullar led the NBA in 2014-2015 with a 17.1 DBMP in three minutes played! Rondo tends to gamble in passing lanes as well as lazily reach around his man to try and strip him while Collison is more likely to man up to his opponent. The eye test tells us that Collison is the more effective defender in most areas.

Overall, I believe we will have a moderate improvement from last year for the starting point guard position.

Starting SG: Ben McLemore vs Arron Afflalo

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
McLemore 21.2 0.429 0.362 0.474 0.502 0.718 2.2 1.2 0.8 0.1 1.5 7.8
Afflalo 33.4 0.443 0.382 0.469 0.5 0.84 3.7 2 0.4 0.1 1.2 12.8

Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
McLemore 36 0.429 0.362 0.474 0.502 0.718 3.7 2 1.3 0.2 2.5 13.2
Afflalo 36 0.443 0.382 0.469 0.5 0.84 4 2.2 0.4 0.2 1.2 13.8

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
McLemore 8.6 0.531 0.407 7.9 1.7 0.6 16.5 17.6 -2 -1.2 -3.2 -0.4
Afflalo 10.9 0.531 0.298 9.9 0.5 0.3 8.7 17.9 -0.6 -1.8 -2.4 -0.2

Whelp, I was moderately excited about the Afflalo signing until I looked at a statistical comparison of the two last year. The raw stats can get you excited as Afflalo had more PPG, RPG, and APG while shooting better from the field and committing fewer turnovers. However, the per36 stats tell a different story. They have almost identical PPG, RPG, and APG with McLemore getting almost one more steal each contest. The only area of encouragement is the lack of turnovers on the part of Afflalo.

Essentially, Arron is a more composed, consistent player while Ben has more potential. The advanced numbers tell the same story – Affalo isn’t a very good player, but he’s a slight upgrade over Ben. We went from pretty bad to kind of bad in our starting shooting guard position. The BMP and VORP numbers say that neither player should be starting for a competitive NBA team.

Unfortunately, we didn’t move the needle very much in this area of desperate need.

Player Comparisons (Bench Production)

Not only did we make changes in the starting lineup, but Vlade also replaced four rotation players on the team. The Kings have a new backup point guard, backup shooting guard, backup wing, and backup big man. Only rotational players were included in the comparisons, so LaMar Patterson, Seth Curry, Caron Butler, Duje Dukan, Eric Moreland, and the rookies were left out of the equation.

Backup PG: Darren Collison vs Garrett Temple

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Collison 30 0.486 0.401 0.519 0.542 0.858 2.3 4.3 1 0.1 1.8 14
Temple 24.4 0.398 0.345 0.453 0.486 0.728 2.7 1.8 0.9 0.2 0.8 7.3


Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Collison 36 0.486 0.401 0.519 0.542 0.858 2.7 5.2 1.2 0.1 2.1 16.8
Temple 36 0.398 0.345 0.453 0.486 0.728 3.9 2.6 1.3 0.3 1.2 10.7

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
Collison 15.9 0.591 2.8 21.7 1.6 0.1 12.9 19.2 1.8 -2.2 -0.4 0.9
Temple 9.3 0.52 0.511 10 1.7 0.7 10.3 14 -1 0.1 -1 0.5

Um, yikes. Collison is the far superior player in literally every category. I believe D.C. is a solid starting point guard in the league, so moving him to the starting lineup was going to always create a drop-off in talent from the bench, but this transition is potentially catastrophic. Darren had double the points and assists per game while only playing five more minutes on average. Collison is also a much more efficient three point shooter (40% to 35%) even though over half of Temple's field goal attempts (51%) came from beyond the arc.

Oh, and by no means is Temple an actual point guard. He's a wing player who we are going to somehow stuff into the jersey of a lead guard. At best, he's a shooting guard that can bring the ball up if your point guard is under pressure. He only averaged 2.6 APG in a per36 perspective last year. His assist rate is at 10% which placed him at 214th in the league with players such as Jeff Green, Anthony Davis, Dion Waiters, and Arron Afflalo in the same range. He was the lowest ranked "point guard" that played any significant minutes. The next lowest group of guards were Seth Curry (14.2 AST% - good for 154th place) and Devin Harris (14.5 AST% - good for 149th place). If we don't find a real backup point guard then we are going to be in a world of hurt. The Kings can't afford to walk into the season without a point guard.

This is a massive, massive, underrated drop off in talent and positional fit. Don't believe what Vlade tells you, Temple is not a serviceable point guard.

Backup SG: Marco Belinelli vs Ben McLemore

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Belinelli 24.6 0.386 0.306 0.456 0.457 0.833 1.7 1.9 0.5 0 1.2 10.2
McLemore 21.2 0.429 0.362 0.474 0.502 0.718 2.2 1.2 0.8 0.1 1.5 7.8

Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Belinelli 36 0.386 0.306 0.456 0.457 0.833 2.5 2.7 0.8 0 1.7 15
McLemore 36 0.429 0.362 0.474 0.502 0.718 3.7 2 1.3 0.2 2.5 13.2

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
Belinelli 9.4 0.5 0.468 11.1 1.1 0.1 10.3 19.7 -1.3 -2.9 -4.2 -0.9
McLemore 8.6 0.531 0.407 7.9 1.7 0.6 16.5 17.6 -2 -1.2 -3.2 -0.4

Ben McLemore slightly outperformed Marco Belinelli last season. Even though Ben started the majority of the time (53 starts to Marco's 7), Marco actually played more minutes per game for some unknown reason. Sadly, Marco took almost half (47%) of his shots from beyond the arc, but only sunk a miserable 31% of them. For reference, Boogie shot 33% from three point range. The per36 numbers tell us that Ben was a slightly better player last year, but still wasn't good.

I would rather have an Afflalo/Ben combo than a Ben/Belinelli combo, but no real NBA team has either pairing as their shooting guard rotation.

Backup Wing: James Anderson vs Matt Barnes

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Anderson 14.1 0.376 0.267 0.478 0.441 0.759 1.7 0.8 0.4 0.3 0.8 3.5
Barnes 28.8 0.381 0.322 0.449 0.467 0.804 5.5 2.1 1 0.8 1.6 10

Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Anderson 36 0.376 0.267 0.478 0.441 0.759 4.3 2 1 0.7 2.1 8.9
Barnes 36 0.381 0.322 0.449 0.467 0.804 6.9 2.7 1.3 0.9 2 12.5

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
Anderson 6 0.469 0.483 7.7 1.4 1.6 18 13.7 -3.9 -0.3 -4.2 -0.4
Barnes 11.7 0.503 0.534 11.6 1.8 2.4 13.8 17.9 -0.4 0.8 0.4 1.3

Finally, a real upgrade! Matt Barnes is a true NBA contributor (albeit a douchebag) while James Anderson is a D-League/overseas prospect. Sacramento's Finest is a better scorer, rebounder, and passer while actually performing admirably on the defensive end of the court. Even though he's clearly on the decline, Barnes still statistically outperformed guys like Ben McLemore, Marco Belinelli, Arron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, and James Anderson last year. He's not going to wow you offensively, but you aren't going to have too many worries if he's a part of your backup wing rotation.

James Anderson isn't an NBA player, so replacing him with a legitimate talent is a significant step up.

Backup Big: Quincy Acy vs Anthony Tolliver

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Acy 14.8 0.556 0.388 0.606 0.6 0.735 3.2 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.5 5.2
Tolliver 18.6 0.386 0.36 0.5 0.533 0.617 3.2 0.7 0.4 0.2 0.4 5.3

Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Acy 36 0.556 0.388 0.606 0.6 0.735 7.7 1.1 1.2 1 1.1 12.6
Tolliver 36 0.386 0.36 0.5 0.533 0.617 6.1 1.4 0.7 0.4 0.8 10.3

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
Acy 14.7 0.629 0.229 8.1 15.1 11.6 4.4 1.6 2.2 10 13.1 0.2 0 0.2 0.5
Tolliver 10.2 0.543 0.819 3.1 16.1 9.3 5.6 1 0.9 7.4 12.4 0 0 0 0.7

Acy and Tolliver provide about the same production with different core strengths. According to per36, the bearded wonder (I think I just made that up) is a slightly better rebounder and scorer with a higher field goal percentage. Q.A. also has a higher 3-point percentage, but I think that statistic is a little skewed. He took less than one shot from the outside (.8) per game while Tolliver took almost four per game and shot a respectable 36%. I believe that if Acy increased his attempts to four per game his percentage would drop pretty significantly.

The team got no better or worse with this exchange of players.

Player Comparisons (Bonus Round!)

I added two more comparisons because of the belief that Rudy Gay is going to be traded this off-season for guard help.

Starting Wing: Rudy Gay vs Omri Casspi

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Gay 34 0.463 0.344 0.495 0.5 0.78 6.5 1.7 1.4 0.7 2 17.2
Casspi 27.2 0.481 0.409 0.537 0.571 0.648 5.9 1.4 0.8 0.2 1.4 11.8

Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Gay 36 0.463 0.344 0.495 0.571 0.78 6.9 1.8 1.5 0.8 2.1 18.2
Casspi 36 0.481 0.409 0.537 0.5 0.648 7.9 1.8 1.1 0.3 1.8 15.6

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
Gay 15.5 0.538 0.214 8 2 1.7 11.1 22.4 -0.4 0.1 -0.4 1
Casspi 13.9 0.587 0.441 7.5 1.4 0.7 12 17.8 0.3 -0.6 -0.3 0.8

Rudy Gay is a better, more versatile player than Omri Casspi. Rudini can take over a game if Cousins is in foul trouble, resting, or is injured while Casspi is more of a complimentary player who is very effective in transition.

The advanced stats tell us that there wouldn’t be a huge drop-off in scoring with the change from Rudy to Omri. Casspi is also one of the best outside shooters in the NBA at a scorching 41% from 3-point range. He’s also a better rebounder than Gay although he may struggle to body up with other power forwards in a small-ball format. Neither player is much of a passer as Gay had an AST% of 8% while Casspi was at 7.5%

Rudy Gay is a better player than Omri Casspi, but we have much greater areas of need than starting small forward. If Rudy is moved for a point guard then there would be a moderate drop off in the starting wing talent.

Backup Wing: Omri Casspi vs Matt Barnes

Per Game

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Casspi 27.2 0.481 0.409 0.537 0.571 0.648 5.9 1.4 0.8 0.2 1.4 11.8
Barnes 28.8 0.381 0.322 0.449 0.467 0.804 5.5 2.1 1 0.8 1.6 10

Per 36

Player MP FG% 3P% 2P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Casspi 36 0.481 0.409 0.537 0.5 0.648 7.9 1.8 1.1 0.3 1.8 15.6
Barnes 36 0.381 0.322 0.449 0.467 0.804 6.9 2.7 1.3 0.9 2 12.5

Advanced

Player PER TS% 3PAr AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
Casspi 13.9 0.587 0.441 7.5 1.4 0.7 12 17.8 0.3 -0.6 -0.3 0.8
Barnes 11.7 0.503 0.534 11.6 1.8 2.4 13.8 17.9 -0.4 0.8 0.4 1.3

Assuming that Barnes doesn’t continue to decline, then this would be another small downgrade in talent. Casspi is a much better and more productive offensive spark plug while Barnes can hold it down on the defensive end of the court and can also be used as a physical enforcer. I think we will see a lot of Matt Barnes, especially if Casspi moves into the starting lineup.

So, did we improve?

As of right now, I don't believe the roster is any more talented than it was last year. The minor upgrades that we've seen are negated by the massive hole at starting/backup point guard. The good news is that the offseason isn't over. Vlade still has a couple of moves to make and the short term future of the franchise depends on his ability to pull off a minor miracle.

For example, earlier today a trade was suggested (not rumored, just suggested) on Twitter of Rudy Gay + Ben McLemore for Trevor Ariza + Pat Beverly. That's the kind of move that will really help fill out the roster. We would have a stop gap for the games Collison is going to miss as well as someone to come off the bench when Darren returns. Two defensive focused players in exchange for an expiring contract of an unhappy player and a failed lottery pick would be a great haul. We still wouldn't be a playoff caliber team, but the organization would be in much better shape than it is right now.

Vlade didn't make any huge mistakes this offseason, but he didn't hit any homeruns either. Signing veterans for locker room influence is something an already competitive team focuses on while struggling teams should merely add talent wherever possible. If we walk into next season with the roster as currently assembled, expect a chaotic start to the season and a disastrous ending.

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