This off-season has been pretty damn good so far for the Spurs. It all started with the trade for Richard Jefferson. Many people, including people whose opinion actually matters, think the Jefferson trade was one of if not the most crucial deal for any team. It's obviously impossible to say it was at this point, before he has played a single minute for the Spurs. But fortunately for us and the Spurs, it didn't end there.
Draft night came and the Spurs we given the gift of seeing DeJuan Blair on the board at 37. "Why thank you other GMs, we will take the best rebounder in the draft." Apparently his nickname is Grizzly Blair. Apt. Even if the Spurs hadn't also been able to draft one of the best shooters/defenders in the draft, it would have been a success. But along came Jack McClinton. If you doubt his range you should watch this. What a great off-season already right? But wait, our front line consists of Tim Duncan, two guys who have practically no experience in the league, and Gingerhead Man. What a shitfest that could turn out to be. At least Rasheed Wallace is a free agent...
Man...why do I suck so much at being tall?
"FUCK YOU RASHEED WALLACE!!!" (me and every Spurs fan on July 5th) It's just a shame he was the only legit big man left in free agency (still laughing at the Marcin Gortat signing...$34 million). Antonio McDyess? Doesn't he not have knees either or something? Well sort of. He did rupture his patellar tendon and was bothered by that for several years. But he has been a very durable big man these past few years, playing in all 82 games in 2005/2006 and 2006/2007. He played in 78 games the next year and 62 last year (he had to sit out a month because he re-signed with the Pistons after being traded by them to Denver). Durability is all fine and good, but can he play? Stats time!!!
He became a starter for the Pistons in 2007/2008. He started all 78 games he played in and did fairly well in somewhat limited minutes.
MPG: 29.3 PPG: 8.8 DRPG: 5.9 ORPG: 2.6 FG%: 48.8%
If you extrapolate those numbers to 40 minutes a game you get:
PPG: 12 DRPG: 8.05 ORPG: 3.5
That would be 12 PPG and 11.5 RPG. not too shabby for a 33 old with a shaky knee. Now let's look at last year.
MPG: 30.1 PPG: 9.6 DRPG: 6.8 ORPG: 3.0 FG%: 51%
PPG: 12.8 DRPG: 9.03 ORPG: 3.98
Totals at 12.8 PPG and 13 RPG. Those are pretty great rebounding numbers for 40 minutes. And I'm not saying he'll play 40 minutes a game next year, but it give us a good comparison point (Duncan would be at 12.73 RPG if his numbers were averaged at 40 minutes a game).
What about his defense? We can head over to 82games for help with that question.
For the 2008/2009 season we have his defensive numbers (opponents by position):
Ouch. But Ankle Bones, why would the Spurs sign him if he sucked so hard at defense? To that I would say, "You realize they also wanted Matt Bonner and Jackie Butler right?" I kid, but seriously you have to take into account the type of defense he was required to play with Detroit. Jason Maxiell and Rasheed Wallace were their big men. Wallace is a good defender even though his D fell off last year. But McDyess was their other main post defender. He wasn't a help defender (pistons fans can correct me if I'm wrong). In the Spurs defensive scheme his primary concerns will be 1) rebounding, 2) coming over to help on defense, and 3) hitting open jumpers. For all teams other than the Lakers, he won't need to defend their big man one-on-one. That's not to say he won't be asked to do it, but his numbers will likely go down with his shift to helping Tim Duncan on defense rather than manning up on the other team's biggest player.
All in all I really like the McDyess signing. It was a cherry on top to the off season. A blowjob to go with the sundae would be getting rid of Michael Finley. But we'll have to wait and see on that one. With a lineup* like this, I see the Spurs winning a lot of games next year:
PG - Tony Parker - George Hill SG - Roger Mason Jr. - Manu Ginobili SF - Richard Jefferson - Malik Hairston (god willing) - Michael Finley PF - Tim Duncan - DeJuan Blair - Marcus Haislip C - Antonio McDyess - Ian Mahinmi - Matt Bonner
Throw in Marcus Williams, Jack McClinton, or even Bruce Bowen and that's a legitimate title contender.
* - the lineups will be more fluid than that. e.g. you might see Mahinmi at PF or Finley at SG.
Reports are that Ron Artest will sign a 3 year, ~$18 million deal (or possibly a 5 year, ~$33 million deal) with the Lakers once the Free Agent signing moratorium ends on the 8th. This news has been plastered all over the interwebs and TV (ESPN mostly). The question is, what does this mean for the rest of the league? Excellent question! Let's discuss shall we?
This means Trevor Ariza is gone (he has agreed to sign with Houston). While this may seem like a lateral move at worst considering Artest's defense and experience, you have to take into consideration the different types of players Ariza and Artest are. Ariza is lanky and quick while Artest is big and (somewhat) slow. Artest is a better defender though and has shown he can guard big shooting guards and most small forwards. His size almost hurts him though as it's not certain he can guard the quicker shooting guards and small forwards. Manu Ginobili, who has actually had trouble against Artest in the past, and Richard Jefferson will likely be the main focuses for Artest next season. Jefferson hasn't really had trouble scoring on Artest but they're both entering new systems. If Jefferson remains a primary cutter instead of a ball handler, where Artest could use his body more, I think Artest will have a rough time staying with Jefferson.
Thanks to 82games.com, we see that Artest's defense was less than spectacular last season. He allowed 45.9% shooting (16 PPG 12.3 PER) from the small forwards he guarded and 50% (18.0 PPG 16.4 PER) from the power forwards he guarded. Since Houston had Shane Battier, Artest was rarely if ever put on shooting guards. It's interesting to note he got absolutely TORCHED by Kobe while Battier did a very good job on him.
Compared to Ariza, Artest's defense was actually pretty good. Ariza struggled against shooting guards (69% FG, 20.6 PPG, 20.1 PER) and to a lesser extent small forwards (48.8% FG, 19.1 PPG, 16.0 PER). The more startling numbers were his stats against power forwards. They were held to 43% FG, 12.3 PPG, and 18.3 PER while Ariza was guarding them.
The thing Ariza did so well was guard quick point guards. 82games doesn't have enough numbers to give an adequate picture of how well Ariza did on guys like Parker. I think all Spurs fans remember how much trouble Parker had getting by and getting a shot off against Ariza. In that area, it's a clear move backward for the Lakers. The only people left to defend the Parkers of the league are Derek Fisher (he only defends with flops) and Jordan Farmar (who might be on the trading block). I expect to see Parker have huge games against the Lakers next season.
I might be in the minority on this but I think this move tightens the gap between the Spurs and Lakers. Artest might do well on Ginobili but it's likely Kobe will guard him mostly. If Artest is put on Manu, all Pop would have to do is bring in Jefferson. Kobe is quick enough to guard RJ, but RJ has a slight height advantage. It would be an interesting matchup. I don't think Odom is good enough defensively to have any kind of impact on Jefferson. Ariza could defend anyone from Parker to (now) Jefferson. The Lakers will miss that versatility.
All in all these might be silver-n-black colored glasses. But there isn't a guy on the Spurs Artest was made to defend. Plus he's a terrible ball handler and takes stupid shots. Oh and he has some mental issues...But good luck with him LA. Every Spurs fan and I hope you'll need it.