Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Elton Brand chase

The big news this summer has obviously been the Elton Brand signing. We've discussed the signing fairly extensively already (disbelief that we were really in the chase, excitement at the actual signing, evaluating whether Brand made the right choice in choosing the Sixers over the Clippers), but we obviously can't have a round-up of the Sixers' moves this off-season without evaluating the Brand signing.

For the purposes of this analysis, it's important to recognize that the chase for Elton Brand actually involved two transactions by the Sixers- (1) the trade of Calvin Booth and Rodney Carney to the Timberwolves, and (2) the actual signing of Elton Brand.

First, let's look at the trade of Booth and Carney.

When it comes to Booth, it quickly becomes apparent that the Sixers didn't lose anything by trading him away. He didn't play enough minutes to be evaluated by Adjusted +/-, but his PER (7.11) and WP48 (-0.033) don't exactly inspire confidence. It's hard to imagine that whoever takes his limited minutes this upcoming season won't be an improvement.

The Carney story is somewhat similar. Carney's PER (12.15) and WP48 (-0.032) are both somewhat dismal. However, his adjusted +/- is actually quite good (1.54). Still, going with our "majority rules" principle, I think that we can make the assumption that trading away Carney isn't going to have a negative impact on the Sixers' performance this year.

So not only did trading away Booth and Carney create the cap room needed to sign Elton Brand, but the act of trading them away also removed some deadweight from the roster (clearly the case with Booth, likely the case with Carney). Good work.

Next, we turn to the actual signing of Elton Brand.

I (along with everyone else) thought the Sixers scored a real coup by signing Brand. Looking at the numbers is a little tricky since Brand was hurt for most of last year, but I think they bear out everyone's intuition that signing Brand was a good move. The only question raised by the numbers is whether Brand was worth the max money he received.

Brand didn't play enough minutes last season to have an adjusted +/- calculated for him, but he had a PER of 18.04 and a WP48 of .058. His PER was good (although lower than Igoudala's), but his WP48 last season was below average. Of course, if you go back to the 2006-07 season (i.e. when he wasn't injured), Brand had a WP48 of .213. And if you go back to 2005-06, Brand had a whopping WP48 of .274. Plus, Brand's career average PER is 22.7.

What do these numbers say to me? If Brand can return to his form from three years ago, then he'll be worth every penny of the money we gave him. Even if he doesn't return all the way to that standard, but simply returns to close to his 2006-07 form then it was still a signing that will signficantly help the Sixers on the floor this coming season.

Signing a top-tier low-post scoring threat wasn't exactly on the list of most desperate needs, but it sure isn't a move you can argue with-- act while the iron is hot and all those other good expressions. And the addition of Brand does actually help the Sixers' bench by moving Reggie Evans to the back-up power forward spot and allowing Thaddeus Young to play more at small forward.

All in all, a very nice move.


Louis said...

The question of whether or not he comes back at his top-flight form is the key to the entire off-season. If he's a busted player then the sixers essentially added nothing.

Thomas said...

I was a little bummed when I saw we traded Carney, but like you said, it shouldn't really hurt us. I randomly came across your blog when trying to figure out if one can get NBA League Pass in Anchorage. I then saw that you are coming here and that this is a Sixers blog. I just thought I'd hit you with an early "Welcome to Alaska", and more importantly, thanks for upping the number of Sixer fans here. Based on my experiences, the Sixer fan population here in Anchorage is mad low. Well I'm out, I have to go dig up my Ratliff jersey from '99.

Sam Cohen said...

thomas- I actual arrived last September...and now in two weeks I'm heading off to Washington, DC. I guess it's time to update my profile! I hope you'll stop by in the future and check out the (semi-regular) posts.

As for NBA League Pass, as of last September when I looked into it, GCI didn't offer the service. Bit of a bummer since it meant that I basically didn't get to watch any sixers' games all year long.