NBA Roundtable: So How's That Trade Working Out? The Moving Parts of Nene, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Brian Cook, and Ronny Turiaf
It’s been about three weeks since the Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets collaborated to exchange parts. The Wizards gave up Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf and got Nene, Brian Cook, and a 2015 second round draft pick belonging to the New Orleans Hornets (via the L.A. Clippers) in return. Los Angeles received Young in exchange for Cook and the second rounder, and Denver received McGee and Turiaf in exchange for Nene. The Nuggets soon thereafter waived Turiaf, who then signed with the Miami Heat. To check in on the aftermath of this trade, I turned to some authorities for the involved franchises for commentary. Nick Flynt (@ClipperBlogNick) of ClipperBlog, Jeremy Wagner (@RoundballMiner) of Roundball Mining Company, Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) of Bullets Forever, and Kevin Arnovitz (@KevinArnovitz) of ESPN.com/TrueHoop drop some knowledge on the Clippers, Nuggets, Wizards and Heat respectively. Read on…
Intro: The Clippers had to know what they were getting with Nick Young, right? In 1,211 minutes with Washington this season, Young had a FG% of 0.406 and an eFG% of 0.468; he also picked up 1.4 assists per 36 minutes. In his hometown of Los Angeles, Young’s FG% has dropped to 0.373, his eFG% to 0.444, and his assists/36 to 1.0. With a nice recent run of eight wins to one loss (vs. the Lakers), the Clippers are 9-4 since Young made his debut (although, 0-3 when Young starts). So… how’s that trade working out? (Bonus if you miss Brian Cook.)
NICK FLYNT – ClipperBlog:
I wrote a thing for Clipperblog about Nick Young recently that basically detailed my feelings about him. I find SwaggyP hilarious in terms of his gunning and style, and I thought he’d flourish with the Clippers, who weren’t really making it work with too much Mo Williams at SG (or Randy Foye at SG, for that matter). Unfortunately, the whole “flourish” thing was built on him still being able to make threes, and likely make more of them because he should theoretically be open when he’s on the floor with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Instead, SwaggyP is shooting 23-percent from long range with CP3 on the court and 42-percent with Chris Paul off the floor. Go figure. Anyway, I can still see him hitting his stride and having one explosive playoff game that makes renting him for a 2nd-rounder and Brian Cook worth it. I’ve also joked that his acquisition motivated Randy Foye to be better, because Randy has been shooting like 6-percent better from 3 since the Clips got Nick Young. It’s all about the intangibles.
Intro: From 1,126 minutes in D.C. to 215 minutes in Denver, JaVale McGee’s stats per 36 minutes have been relatively the same; overall, he’s averaging about six minutes less with the Nuggets (27.5 to 21.5). His free throw shooting is much worse (50% drops to 37.5%), he’s getting about 1.4 rebounds less per 36, and is picking up 0.7 more fouls. The only positive difference is McGee’s FG% going from 0.535 to 0.547. I haven’t seen many of Denver’s games, but I get the impression that he’s the same ol’ JaVale — he provides the most beautiful of stylistic plays that are combated with the most obnoxious, substance-lacking attempts at unfundamental basketball. The Nuggets are 5-5 since McGee’s debut… so how’s that trade working out?
JEREMY WAGNER – Roundball Mining Company:
The Nuggets acquisition of JaVale McGee was a move that was made with an eye on the future. The message that the team and media is delivering is that George Karl and the Nuggets’ coaching staff does a great job with player development and with McGee’s raw skills and physical gifts, they will be able to mold him into the player they want him to be. How that scenario plays out remains to be seen.
In the short term JaVale is who we thought he was. Fantastic dunks, highlight reel blocked shots, inconsistent decision-making and atrocious pick-and roll-defense are all there. In McGee’s first game as a Nugget, he grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw by Arron Afflalo and threw down a dunk to win the game. He played a fantastic game and Nuggets fans were quickly infatuated with the rangy youngster.
More recently when the Nuggets played in Orlando on a night where the Magic were without Dwight Howard, Denver could not take advantage of McGee’s length because he could not figure out that when you switch a screen, you stay with the man you have switched onto. McGee had seven rebounds in 11 minutes, but because he would switch a perimeter screen and then just sag back into the paint leaving the man he was supposed to be guarding wide open at the 3-point line the more important of those two stats is that he only played 11 minutes. Karl defended him after the game saying they asked him to do something he had not been asked to do before, but the concept of switching on screens is not some uber-advanced defensive philosophy.
In the ten games he has played for Denver he has gained and lost a starting job. Karl clearly does not trust him, and with good reason. With Denver fighting for a playoff spot it is unlikely that McGee gets more than 20 minutes a game from here on out. While that may be disappointing for Nuggets fans and McGee personally, this trade was not about the rest of this season. It is about the rest of McGee’s career, whatever that may entail.
Intro: No need to put it many ways other than the Wizards are bad. They’ve looked very nice with Nene in the lineup, even with an incomplete cupboard stocked by team brass. But without Nene, currently missing time due to plantar fasciitis (Trevor Booker has also missed several games with the same injury), the Wizards are terrible. Over the last 12 games, when a lineup of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Booker and Nene play together (5 games, 93 minutes), they have a plus/minus of plus-6.7 per 48 minutes. When Wall, Crawford, Singleton, Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin play together (the starting lineup in lieu of Booker and Nene – 10 games, 88 minutes), the Wizards are minus-15.3 per 48 minutes. Wow… a 22-point difference over the course of a game. The Wizards currently sit five wins better than the NBA-worst Charlotte Bobcats and three wins less than the third worst NBA/New Orleans Hornets. Also, Brian Cook! So how’s that trade working out?
SEAN FAGAN – Bullets Forever:
There are two types of spin you could put on this trade as a fan of the Washington Wizards. The first is that the team was able to acquire the most coveted free agent center of last offseason for the price of two parts who were either not returning (Nick Young) or looked to be out of sync with what the team was attempting to achieve (JaVale McGee). In the extremely limited sample size in which Nene has played, the Wizards resembled an actual NBA team that emphasized ball movement, teamwork and all those good things you hear about when writing a rosy post-mortem. The fact that Nene has been held out of the last several contests with plantar fasciitis probably has less to do with the extent of Nene’s injury and more to to do with the fact that the Wizards want to protect their $65 million dollar investment and are happy to tank to add another piece to the rebuild puzzle. The flip side of all of this of course is that Nene has a history of injuries and any ding or dent in our brand new toy is going to bring flashbacks of Gilbert Arenas to the most grizzled Wizards fan. The result is that Wizards will most likely get to play out the string watching the development of Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely, and wait until next year to see the full impact of the trade. I for one am still feeling good, but with minor hesitations.
Intro: Ronny Turiaf went from being out with a broken hand (again) on the hapless Wizards to starting for the Miami Heat, a team with championship aspirations (if their sensitive emotions don’t get in the way) — my how things can change in the NBA. In 10 games, four starts and 156 minutes for the Heat, Ronny Turiaf’s PER of 13.9 is better than his 11.3 in four whole games with the Wizards (but hey, Ronny finished 3-for-3 on FGs in DC!), and it’s just below his career average of 14.3. But, considering who else the Heat have at center (Joel Anthony – 9.4 PER; Dexter Pittman – 7.0; Juwan Howard – 3.3; and Eddy Curry – 0.3 – REALLY?), they’ll take it. So, how is the trade that Miami didn’t participate in but benefited from working out?
KEVIN ARNOVITZ – ESPN.com/TrueHoop:
So often, we look at the raw totals of a player’s contributions in a vacuum, without considering the margin of the upgrade he provides at the position he’s filling. To your point, it’s not as if Turiaf is lighting the world on fire down in Miami. But when you look at the production the Heat have gotten at center, Turiaf might as well be Alonzo Mourning. He’s not the defender Joel Anthony is by a long shot, but every minute Turiaf is on the floor is a minute Juwan Howard isn’t. And while I’m someone who feels that “energy” is an overrated and unquantifiable intangible, Turiaf’s motor seems to be infectious for a team that, at times, could use some giddyup.