Cost/Efficiency Analysis: Shooting Guards


The entire lockout, just about every team is dancing around the issue of analyzing what is on their roster. The fact of the matter is, with no collective bargaining deal in place and no rules for free agency or trades, there is little to do in the way of projecting what is going to happen once the lockout is lifted.

What we can do is evaluate what is on the Magic’s roster. A while back I took a look at an interesting way to evaluate efficiency and value on teams. Jason Fleming of HoopsWorld took up the task of breaking down a player’s efficiency as compared to his salary. The results are pretty interesting concerning starters in the league and how efficient they can be.

I took Fleming’s formula and analyzed what Orlando’s point guards did last year compared to their salaries, finding Jameer Nelson to be pretty average in comparison to his salary and Chris Duhon and Gilbert Arenas to be woefully overpaid. Fleming came out with the rest of his analyses, so I will take them in turn starting with the shooting guards today.

Shooting guard is an interesting position for the Magic right now. Jason Richardson is a free agent and Orlando will have to figure out if it can free up enough money to sign him or else turn the starting reigns over to J.J. Redick or (gasp) Gilbert Arenas. Quentin Richardson no longer has the speed to play the position any more. Options are limited for the Magic at this position.

So what kind of value are they getting from this position? Not much. But it was better than they were getting at the beginning of the season.

According to Fleming, Jason Richardson made $962,963 per PER efficiency point. That is very bad. Like one of the worst in the league among starters bad. Only Joe Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter rated below Richardson among starters. We will get to Carter and how little Orlando got from him this season in a moment.

Superstars are inherently overpaid. It is difficult to be super efficient and have a high salary. So the method Fleming used tends to favor players that produce high efficiency with low salaries — New York’s Landry Fields was the tops among starters with Philadelphia’s Jodie Meeks in second. The first player to appear on Fleming’s list that was making around the mid-level exception was Wesley Matthews of Portland at 16th among starters. This is a position most teams overpay for.

The Magic became no exception when they acquired Vince Carter and then Jason Richardson.

Specifically in a Magic uniform — the 14.9 PER that Fleming uses was his cumulative PER — Richardson posted a 13.2 PER (a career low). According to Basketball-Reference, Richardson made $14.4 million. Using Fleming’s methodology, Richardson posted a nearly $1.11 million per PER point. That would have put him ahead of only Carter on the list.

What about Vince Carter, the team’s original starting shooting guard? Carter had a 16.1 PER with the Magic this year. That is not a fantastic number for someone of his talent, caliber and salary, but you can see by the number it was better than Richardson and only slightly worse than his number in 2010 when he was, at least, semi-successful. Carter made $17.3 million this year. His cost-efficiency rating is $1.07 million per PER point.

In trying to determine who “won” the Magic-Suns trade from December, this is pretty solid evidence that Carter was at least more cost-effecitve. Not to say he would have gotten the Magic out of the first round, but he would have given them more bang for their buck (both Richardson and Carter are free agents this summer, so only Hedo Turkoglu’s contract makes the deal that much worse).

The fact of the matter is Orlando had two of the least cost-effective starters at this position in the NBA. Yes, it was a very bad season at starting shooting guard for the Magic.

That is a problem that needs almost immediate remedying next season. That does not mean the Magic have to get a superstar. Finding a low-cost, high efficiency player like Courtney Lee in 2009 (his nearly $111,000 per PER point rating would have been among the top three this year) is key. That is what I have a feeling Orlando hopes DeAndre Liggins will become. But who knows at this point?

There is a lot of room for improvement at this position for the Magic.

Off the bench, the Magic have J.J. Redick. He is on his declining contract from the Bulls offer sheet but most would say he is making starter’s money. Last year his salary was $7.25 million and he posted a respectable (at least for his career) 12.9 PER. Redick’s cost-efficiency was approximately $562,000. Compared to Richardson and Carter that is pretty solid.

It makes him comparable to the work Dwyane Wade and Stephen Jackson did this year. Of course they are getting paid significantly more and produce at a much higher efficiency. Orlando possibly could get more from Redick for his salary. Players with similar salaries run the gamut, producing slightly more and slightly less than Redick. But considering the other issues the Magic have at this position, where Orlando is with Redick probably is not a source for concern.

One thing for sure, the Magic have questions at shooting guard to answer once free agency starts.

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