Tuesday, July 3, 2007

How much is Andre Igoudala worth?

In yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer, a brief note mentions that the Sixers want to sign Andre Igoudala to an extension early this summer. If the Sixers are going to sign Igoudala to an extension, then the obvious question is "how much is he worth?"

For my tastes, the article is a bit hyperbolic in describing Igoudala. He's called the "cornerstone of the franchise" and compared to Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Tracy McGrady (as the only players to average 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists last season). I like Igoudala, but I think these statements overstate his value just a tiny bit. For instance, while he might be one of only four players to average 18-5-5, those other players averaged 31.6, 27.3, and 24.6 points respectively, not just the 18.2 points averaged by Igoudala.

Igoudala is still only 23 years old, so I'm assuming that the Sixers are going to pay him at least partly in the belief that he will continue to improve over the course of his next contract. If that's the case, how much better can we expect him to get? Based on the similarity scores developed by Basketball-Reference, the answer might be "Not much."

Briefly, similarity scores are a way to compare a player's season to other player's seasons by comparing various measures of statistical production. The results tell you which players had seasons that were most nearly identical to one another. According to this measure, Andre Igoudala's season at age 23 (i.e. this past season), most closely resembles the seasons of the following players when they were 23 years old:
  • Reggie Theus
  • Derek Anderson
  • Larry Hughes
  • Ron Artest
  • Doug Christie
  • Jerry Stackhouse
  • Steve Smith
  • Ricky Davis
  • Doc Rivers
  • Bob Sura
Many of these players are quite good and have had long, relatively distinguished NBA careers. On the other hand, most of these players never reached the stage where they were the cornerstones of legitimate title contenders. And, in many cases, many of them never sustained a level of play that was substantially higher than their performance as 23 year olds (when measured on a per 40 minute basis). Often they had a year or two of much better play, but then they returned to their more customary level of performance.

In negotiating with Igoudala, I hope the Sixers keep this sort of historical information in mind. He's a good player, but he should be paid like what he will most likely end up being in the long-run based on these comparisons--the third or fourth best player on a team with legitimate championship aspirations.

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