Steve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann of ESPN.com used analytics to decide the losers of the NBA offseason, and unfortunately, the Nets came up short.
Ilardi and Engelmann say that despite the Nets’ efforts to cost-cut this offseason, they still managed to overspend more than any other team in the NBA in 2015.
Of center Brook Lopez, Ilardi and Engelmann write:
It starts with injury-prone center Brook Lopez and his new three-year, $63 million deal. Over the past four seasons, Lopez has averaged only about 1,250 minutes per season — about half the playing time of a healthy full-time starter. While our forecast gave Lopez credit for his increased load last season (2,100 minutes), it remained a moderately skeptical about his long-term health outlook, especially given the poor track record of 7-footers battling foot problems.
But even if Lopez somehow proves capable of staying on the court for another 2,100 minutes during each of the next 3 seasons, his surprisingly pedestrian Predictive RPM (+0.24) is still far too low to justify his new $21 million-per-year salary. Remarkably, despite his rim protection, skilled post game and advanced ability to play facing the basket, Lopez no longer moves the needle in terms of team efficiency. Three seasons ago (2012-13), prior to the injury that derailed his 2013-14 campaign, Lopez posted a borderline All-Star-level RPM of +3.6. But since that time his usage rate, true shooting percentage, blocks, free throws, and assists have all fallen, and the team has played roughly as well — or poorly — when he’s on the bench as it does when he’s on the court.
They also add that the Nets overspent on Thad Young, as well as overpaying vet minimum players Shane Larkin, Thomas Robinson and Andrea Bargnani. Despite their low level contracts, Ilardi and Engelmann claims they aren’t even worth that much.
According to our valuation analysis, Brooklyn’s other summer missteps were less serious, but the team somehow managed to overpay for nearly every player they acquired. For example, they’re paying Thaddeus Young — essentially a league-average player (+0.34 RPM) — $14 million a year for a guaranteed four years. And they’ve signed three players, Andrea Bargnani, Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin, whose contributions project far below replacement level according to RPM. Even on minimum contracts, such players are overpaid.
What do you think Nets fans?