Do you know what ESPN’s Trade Machine is? No? I shouldn’t link you to it, it might take your life away, or something. Oh well, you’ll google it out anyway, so here it is. The program allows you to shop around players and see a projected improvement (or lack of thereof) via an formula created by John Hollinger. While you might disagree with his metrics, one thing is sure, it’s fun and easy.
The big problem with the machine is of course, that it makes trades and NOT Free Agent signings. Fortunately, the Suns have a lot of salary to dump in Vince Carter in Aaron Brooks, so, we can easily make a play for most of the Free Agents without feeling the actual consequences.
So, here we go, a few proposals:
If you’ve watched Sun-n-Gun Live or read a few of my articles, you’ll know, I’m a huge Nene-to-the-Suns supporter. Nene is the gem of this Free Agency and the Suns can definitely afford him. Will he want to play for a mediocre team all over again, though? It’s hard to tell.
Either way, with the current roster, Nene would definitely improve it. What does Hollinger say? See for yourself.
A 4 win addition (6 wins if Aaron Brooks stays, by the way, But fortunately that won’t happen) would be absolutely crucial, considering 6 wins was the line between the playoffs and the lottery last season. Not bad, not bad at all, I dare say.
The second big free agent big guy who could improve the Suns, if he can stay healthy. While he’s probably a better fit based purely on being a “natural” Power Forward, he’s coming off an injury and his effectiveness might be questioned. This time, due to the cap system, the trade had to be simulated into a 3-team trade with the Nuggets being essentially a cap dump. Don’t worry about it, though, this will not change the result which is essentially identical to the Nene trade (Hollinger’s formulas are based on PER, and David West had an identical PER to Nene)
Ok, so when it comes to a big man, we have a big dilemma here. Who do we choose? Their PER is identical, West runs the pick and pop better, Nene runs the pick and roll better, both have past injury issues, and both can help in different ways. I’m a fan of Nene’s game, but I decided that the tiebreaker shouldn’t be my sympathies but one simple thing: Defensive stats.
You see, I’m a big fan of MySynergySports.Com. I think it’s fun to watch defensive stats in various contexts, instead of just watching the block numbers and saying “this guy is better.” So I went there and grabbed a comparison.
And… It looks like David West wins by a sliver. His PPP are pretty damn good, and he’d certainly help defensively. The Opponent PER stats from 82games.com tell a similar story. In the end, West’s scoring prowess combined with better defence mike make him the better choice, even if he’s not as efficient in his scoring as Nene. The fact of the matter is that West might just fit a bit more with his mid-range jumper than Nene with his at-the-rim capabilities. He might also be more affordable, so… Why the hell not?
Now, the Suns don’t just need a big guy, they also need a wingman, the dream would certainly be Arron Afflalo, who is probably the most underrated player in the league. The problem? The Suns will have to be very aggressive in throwing a QO that the Nuggets wouldn’t match. But lets just say the fax in the Nuggets office breaks for that 3 day offer-accepting period that is included in the new CBA.
Now this is where Hollinger formula fails. Afflalo is miles above Vince Carter. Need proof? Stats won’t bring it to you, but he’s a hustling player. Much like Jared Dudley, it’s a quality that brings intangibles. And while his defensive stats are certainly underwhelming (pretty much identical to Vince) he actually tries on defence.
Speaking of the Denver Nuggets, they have to a lot more interesting guys stuck in China right now — Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith are both stuck there, and they might come back (hopefully without Aaron Brooks). Let’s see those two guys.
Dammit, once again I have failed. Or, should I say, Hollinger failed to realize that this is a Energy player for two guys who just don’t care. Given that Chandler’s PER is smaller, he’ll also lose some wins. This however, does not include how they’d work in the Phoenix system, so… Who the hell knows?
Since Aaron Brooks departed, the Suns also need a backup point guard. A systematic fit would be J.J. Barea, but substituting Pippin for Merry isn’t quite what the Suns should be doing. Another (initialed) name to consider is T.J. Ford. In the end though, it might be better to stay pat with Zabian Dowdell manning the backup point and keep an eye out for amnesty plunder, which will be the topic of our next article.