Thursday, August 21, 2008

Filling out the roster

After accounting for the draft (Marreese Speights), signing Elton Brand, and resigning our restricted free agents, the Sixers' roster for the upcoming season was basically set.

These moves left the Sixers' roster in the following shape:

PG Andre Miller, Louis Williams
SG Willie Green
SF Andre Igoudala, Thaddeus Young
PF Elton Brand, Reggie Evans
C Samuel Dalembert, Marreese Speights, Jason Smith (injured)

That's only ten players and every NBA team can keep fifteen, so the Sixers were clearly in the market for players to fill out the roster. These signing will hopefully contribute, but I don't really expect the 11-15th men on the roster to really be difference makers.

As of today, the Sixers have made three signings to fill these spots.

First, the Sixers signed two shooting guards-- Kareem Rush (most recenlty of the Indiana Pacers) and Royal Ivey (most recently of the Milwaukee Bucks). (FYI: I thought Ivey was primarily a SG--and the Sixers mentioned playing him alongside Williams--but Hollinger lists him as a PG. For now, let's just call him a combo guard.) Now, I'm glad the Sixers are looking to address the weakness at the shooting guard position that we identified in our original analysis of our off-season needs. That said, I'm not sure that either one of these players is really the solution.

Last season, Rush clocked in with a PER of 10.06, Adj +/- of -4.10, and a WP48 of -.001. Ivey, for his part, clocked in with a PER of 8.89, Adj +/- of -3.88, and a WP48 of -.054. If you want to get even more depressed, you can check out this chart (from the comments in this post at Pounding the Rock) showing the true shooting percentage of all guards last season who qualified for the points per game title. Our two new signees clock in at third (Ivey) and tenth (Rush) -- and this isn't a list on which you want to be first. Sort of makes the idea that Rush is coming in to be our dead-eye shooter from the perimeter (based on his 38% on 3-pointers last season) a little crazy. Making things even happier, guess who clocked in at number five on the list? (Yup, you guessed it. The man these players will be backing up, our very own Willie Green.)

In other words, the statistics tell us that basically every time either of these players take the floor, their team gets worse. To put it mildly, that's not very good. On the other hand, the Sixers are simply paying them the veteran minimum and they need to fill their final roster spots somehow.

The Sixers other "rounding out the roster" signing actually turns out to be a bit of a surprise (at least to me). Theo Ratliff officially signed with the Sixers today on a one-year veteran's minimum salary. Now, I'm a huge fan of Ratliff from his last go-round with the Sixers back in the Iverson glory years. But that version of Ratliff has very little to do with the now 35 year old player that the Sixers just signed. Between aging and battling injuries, Ratliff doesn't strike me as being the player he used to be. But when I looked at the numbers, I was shocked to see that last year's version of Ratliff posted a PER of 12.11, Adj +/- of 1.43, and WP48 of .059. His PER and WP48 are below average, but they aren't even close to being in the dismal range of Ivey and Rush (or Jason Smith for that matter, the player whose injury apparently led the Sixers to contact Ratliff in the first place). Ratliff is probably not as good at this point in his career as the players he'll be behind in the rotation, but I think he qualifies as a very, very solid option for our fifth big man.

The verdict-- While I appreciate the effort to address our weakness at shooting guard, the guard signings don't help us at all. The acquisition of Ratliff, on the other hand, helps to shore up our bench and bolsters what appears to be an already strong frontcourt.

There are still two more roster spots to fill, but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for an impact signing. We know what this year's Sixers squad is going to look like, now it's just a question of how well they'll play.

I'm pretty excited to watch!


Louis said...

Why not put out the roster with Iggy in the SG spot, as you were positing earlier? Then we have
PG- Miller, Rush, Ivey
SG- Iggy, Green
SF- Young
PF- Brand,Evans
C - Dalembert, Ratliff

That looks decent. Assuming health I see no reason we can't get one home court playoff series.

Sam Cohen said...

I'll post it in a second, but it looks like we have confirmation (from Stefanski) that the plan is to play Young at SF and Igoudala at SG.

You're missing some people (like Louis Williams), so our roster actually looks like this:

PG Miller, Williams, Ivey
SG Igoudala, Green, Rush
SF Young
PF Brand, Evans
C Dalembert, Speights, Ratliff, (Smith)

Igoudala (obviously) and Rush can also play minutes at SF.