The Wizards / Eric Maynor Signing FAQ — Ending the Maynor vs A.J. Price Debate | Truth About It.net

The Wizards / Eric Maynor Signing FAQ — Ending the Maynor vs A.J. Price Debate

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Updated: July 6, 2013

On Monday, it was reported that the Washington Wizards had agreed to terms with free agent point guard Eric Maynor for a two-year deal using the full Bi-Annual Exception (starting at $2.016 million in year one with a player option for year two). Below, TAI breaks down the frequently asked questions regarding the move, all three of them.

The Wizards - Eric Maynor Signing FAQ - Truth About It.net

#1) Boy, that was quick, right?

Indeed. Ernie Grunfeld usually wags his tail looking up at the table, waiting for scraps.

Picking up the free agents that fall through the cracks is often a fair tactic to take when you’re looking for mid-roster free agent filler. There was no waiting to eat this time.

Not long into the early evening dusk of July 1, the first day NBA teams could contact free agents, reports started surfacing that Grunfeld had landed his target.

It was almost the end of August when Martell Webster was signed last summer, A.J. Price was signed on July 24. It wasn’t until August when DeShawn Stevenson and Fabricio Oberto were signed in 2006 and 2009, respectively. It wasn’t until July 19 when Darius Songaila was signed as a free agent from the Bulls in 2006. When Hilton Armstrong was inked as roster filler in 2010, he popped up on the radar after John Wall’s first—and only—summer league had begun in mid-July.

This time things are a little different. With Wall’s injury last season in mind, it was time to be aggressive and act fast. The Wizards targeted the free agent guard of their fancy (within what they were willing to pay) and enacted a deal. But was it the right move?

#2) What does Eric Maynor bring to the table (and is he a better fit than A.J. Price)?

As covered in a previous post, Maynor’s numbers—between a poor start in Oklahoma City to a better finish in Portland after being traded at the 2013 deadline—improved to more resemble his pre-injury levels. Maynor tore his ACL in January 2012 and only played nine games in 2011-12, so we will mostly analyze Maynor’s seasons before and after that season, as well as comparing them to the incumbent in Washington: A.J. Price. The Wizards could have just as easily kept Price, if not more easily. So the decision essentially came down to these two players.

The base statistics of my intrigue (via Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com/stats):

In 37 games with Oklahoma City in 2012-13, Maynor’s numbers:

7.5 PER, .326 3P%, .378 eFG%, 26.8 AST%, 20.0 TOV%, 2.6 TRB%.

OffRtg: 105.2, DefRtg: 101.7, PIE: 5.4%

In 27 games with Portland in 2012-13, Maynor’s numbers improved to a degree:

10.6 PER, .380 3P%, .479 eFG%, 30.0 AST%, 20.7 TOV%, 2.8 TRB%

OffRtg: 105.1, DefRtg: 113.0, PIE: 6.5%

In 82 games with Oklahoma City in 2010-11, Maynor’s full season before injury:

11.7 PER, .385 3P%, .458 eFG%, 30.3 AST%, 17.7 TOV%, 5.9 TRB%

OffRtg: 109.0, DefRtg: 100.6, PIE: 9.2%

A.J. Price, 57 games with the 2012-13 Washington Wizards:

12.4 PER, .350 3P%, .475 eFG%, 26.4 AST%, 12.7 TOV%, 4.9 TRB%

OffRtg: 97.6, DefRtg: 99.9, PIE: 9.6%

At face value, Maynor is a better shooter from deep and he creates more assists (and more turnovers).

Let’s dig a little deeper.

First, let’s take a look at Maynor’s zone shooting chart for the 2012-13 season from NBA.com. Over 64 games and 963 minutes (391 minutes with OKC, 572 minutes with Portland), Maynor had an eFG% of .438 and a TS% of .427 (.377 FG%, .354 3P%, .726 FT%).

{Sidebar: one area to be concerned about with Maynor and offense: his career 73.1 percent from the free throw line.}

Eric Maynor 2012-13 Zone Shooting Chart - via NBA.com/stats

[Eric Maynor 2012-13 Zone Shooting Chart - via NBA.com/stats]

But the Wizards, in signing Maynor, are more looking for a repeat of his full 82-game season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2010-11. That year he played 1,200 minutes and had an eFG% of .458 and a TS% of .485 (.402 FG%, .385 3P%, .720 FT%)—better by 4% and 5.8% (2.5%, 3.1%, 0.6%) from last season, respectively.

Actually, for the money they are paying, the Wizards should expect improvement upon these numbers.

Eric Maynor 2010-11 Zone Shooting Chart - via NBA.com/stats

[Eric Maynor 2010-11 Zone Shooting Chart - via NBA.com/stats]

For comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at A.J. Price’s zone shooting chart last season with the Wizards, a career-year for all intents and purposes (1,278 minutes, .475 eFG%, .501 TS%, .350 3P%, .790 FT%):

A.J. Price 2012-13 Zone Shooting Chart - via NBA.com/stats

[A.J. Price 2012-13 Zone Shooting Chart - via NBA.com/stats]

What you immediately notice is that Maynor is much more capable of getting attempts in the area close to the rim (36.3% of his field goal attempts last season, 36.0% of his attempts in 2010-11). Price, on the other hand, only takes 18.2 percent of his FG attempts from the area close to the rim.

Sure, Price makes his close attempts at a better rate (4-to-8% better), but that certainly doesn’t factor in a small guard missing a tough shot up close, attracting the attention of the defense, and allowing a teammate to clean up the mess. Penetration into the paint makes for better offense. Simple as that. Maynor could double Price’s attempts close to the hoop (in relation to the rest of the shots they take), and that brings a lot of value.

But there are several trade-offs with these two players. A.J. Price holds the upper hand when it comes to pick-and-roll basketball (as an offensive player), and Maynor when it comes to spot-up shooting.

According to Synergy Sports Technology, with the Trailblazers Maynor scored 0.79 points per possession (PPP) over 234 possessions that ended in a FGA, TO or FTs. Most of Maynor’s offensive plays came as the pick-and-roll (P&R) ball handler (91 plays, 38.9% of total plays), where he produced a paltry 0.49 PPP.

As a spot-up shooter (28.6% of his offensive possessions, second most), Maynor produced 1.13 PPP, sinking 39 percent of his 3-point spot-ups.

In 2010-11 with the Thunder, Maynor scored 0.82 PPP total (534 plays), 0.69 as P&R ball handler (158 plays), and 1.08 as a spot-up shooter (141 plays).

Price scored 0.86 PPP over 501 offensive possessions with Washington. He was much better than Maynor as the P&R ball handler, scoring 0.89 PPP (162 possessions, 32.3% of total plays). But on spot-up attempts, Price’s PPP was just 0.9 over 164 possessions (32.7% of total plays).

Price was also a volume chucker from deep. Per 36 minutes last season, for every assist that A.J. Price tallied (5.8), he also almost attempted a single 3-pointer (5.6)—a .966 ratio.

Maynor, on the other hand, picked up just under two assists (1.88) for every 3-pointer he attempted per 36 minutes in 2012-13 (6.8 AST/36 to 3.6 3PA/36). In 2010-11, Maynor total 2.45 assists for every 3-point attempt (7.1 AST/36 to 2.9 3PA/36).

With Maynor a better career shooter from deep than Price (.354 to .322), it’s clear what the Wizards are trying to establish: a point guard who can spread the floor with shooting, but one who will not settle for outside shots and will attack the basket as well.

In Maynor over Price, the Wizards are also aiming for more of a creator. Maynor averages 7.1 assists to 2.5 turnovers per 36 minutes over his career, Price’s averages are 5.2 and 2.1. And remember, Synergy stats available to general subscribers via mysynergysports.com can be misleading because they don’t consider passing and what happens as a result when presenting P&R stats, only whether that individual player shot, went to the line, or turned the ball over.

Let’s also take a look at some shooting heat maps from Basketball-Reference.com.

First, Eric Maynor’s full heat map from 2012-13:

Eric Maynor 2012-13 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com

[Eric Maynor 2012-13 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com]

Here’s Maynor’s heat map from 2010-11:

Eric Maynor 2010-11 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com

[Eric Maynor 2010-11 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com]

And A.J. Price’s heat map from 2012-13:

A.J. Price 2012-13 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com

[A.J. Price 2012-13 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com]

In comparing these heat maps, there is continued evidence that Maynor can get shots closer to the basket (which also sometimes leads to assists being kicked out to perimeter shooters). That said, what stands out most is the disbursement of scoring from A.J. Price. His shots come from all over the court (which could be a result of playing while Wall was injured), while Maynor’s attempts, especially around the 3-point line but also from mid-range, tend to favor the left side of the floor.

If you consider John Wall’s 2012-13 heat map (below), which conveys a concentration on the right side of the floor, the Wizards’ plan for Maynor, or at least one aspect of it, starts coming more into shape. Maynor is to not just serve as a backup point guard behind Wall, but also a guard playing next to Wall.

John Wall 2012-13 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com

[John Wall 2012-13 Shooting Heat Map - via Basketball-Reference.com]

Randy Wittman has not been bashful about playing Wall alongside a more traditional point guard. Wall and Price played next to each other for 158 total minutes over 20 games last season; their net point total was minus-11 points.

Maynor played just under 357 minutes over 26 games alongside Portland’s Damian Lillard (about 62% of Maynor’s total minutes with the Blazers). Remember, Maynor was only in Portland for 27 games, so he saw action with Lillard in all but one contest (Wes Matthews was the starting 2-guard). Lillard and Maynor averaged 13.7 minutes next to each other per game; their net point total over that time: plus-3.

The decision to sign Maynor over Price coming down to the ability to create, as well as shoot 3-pointers, is especially evident when you consider the offensive ability of Washington’s backcourt as a whole. Wall is just entering his fourth year and still has mountains to climb in terms of his own offense; Bradley Beal will be no where near as polished as he can be as an NBA soph; Garrett Temple has limitations that we are all well-aware of; Glen Rice, Jr. is only a second round pick from the D-League; and Wizards “wings”—Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza, Otto Porter, and Chris Singleton—all have below average skills when it comes to creating off the dribble. Maynor is an immediate update over Price in this regard.

#3) So is this a good deal?

The Wizards are putting a fair amount of eggs in the Eric Maynor basket, and with some good reason. Except for defense.

Desperate for more offense off the bench, Washington is choosing that over defense when it comes to the use of their Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) to address Wall’s backup and their backcourt situation. Maynor wasn’t the best option out there—Beno Udrih and Darren Collison are both better offensive players—but Maynor was the most bang the Wizards could get for their BAE buck (just over $4 million for two seasons). Both Udrih and Collison will be looking for more money in the wake of an NBA free agency temporarily held hostage by Dwight Howard.

When Maynor was on the court last season for the Thunder, the team Offensive Rating (OffRtg—points per 100 possessions) decreased by 3.8. The opponent OffRtg also increased by 3.3, making Maynor’s net OffRtg with Oklahoma City minus-7.1. In Portland, the team OffRtg increased by 2.6 with Maynor on the floor, as did the opponent OffRtg, by a significant plus-6.9, still keeping Maynor’s floor presence in the net negative at minus-4.3.

The 2010-11 season was a much different story for Maynor when his on-court OffRtg increased by 2.2 while the opponent on-court OffRtg decreased by 6.3, making Maynor a plus-8.5 net positive. Could it all be about the knee injury? (Or the team?)

The affect that A.J. Price had on the Wizards last season, analyzing the same statistics, is less dramatic, if not steady. When Price was on the court, Washington’s OffRtg increased by 0.1, and the OffRtg of opponents decreased by 0.4, making Price’s net OffRtg plus-0.5.

According to Synergy Sports Technology, Maynor’s defense allowed 0.88 PPP over 148 possessions with Portland that ended with a FGA, TO or FTs. Maynor was scored on 40.5 percent of the time. With OKC in 2010-11, Maynor allowed 0.86 PPP over 485 possessions, getting scored on 40.6 percent of the time.

Over 477 defensive possessions with Washington, Price allowed 0.83 PPP (ranked 107), allowing opponents to score 37.1 percent of the time.

A quick, but useful, sidebar in this discussion about defense would be to go back and compare the pre-draft measurements of each player—both Maynor and Price entered the 2009 NBA Draft at age 22, but Maynor is about eight months younger.

Price: 6’0.5″ without shoes; 6’3.75″ wingspan; 10’3″ no step vert. reach; 10’8″ max vert. reach.

Maynor: 6’2.25″ without shoes; 6’2.5″ wingspan; 10’5.5 no step vert. reach; 10’8.5″ max vert. reach.

The main takeaway is that although 1.75 inches taller than Price, Maynor’s wingspan is 1.25 inches shorter than Price’s, which could be part of the determining defensive factor.

But we also know that defense is highly influenced by heart and hustle. If Maynor has the heart, and a healthy knee, then he could be as adequate of a defender as Price, who’s not known to be a stopper, but rather a guy who won’t hurt you. To date, Maynor is mostly known for being a liability on defense.

Still, factoring in what Maynor potentially brings on offense, how he might fit in with Wall, and finally, his overall moxie, it’s not hard to see why Washington made such a choice. Maynor’s eFG% was .438 overall last season, but increased to .461 in the fourth quarter. Price’s .475 overall eFG% last season decreased to .424 in the fourth quarter.

Signing Eric Maynor is not a swing-for-the-fences move. But compared to Price, Maynor is aiming for a run-scoring double with a man on first and no outs, instead of simply trying to bunt him into scoring position. But it’s not all about comparing Maynor to Price, it’s about what the Wizards could have done had they not acted so quickly.

Other free agent options, such as Will Bynum, D.J. Augustin, and Aaron Brooks, seem impractical. Guys like Jarrett Jack or Rodrigue “Roddy” Beaubois could have been better options, but options willing to take the BAE, options the Wizards should have risked waiting for? Hard to tell.

Detractors of the Maynor deal easily point to the player option in year two—the commitment to a second-tier player past one season raises red flags. But perhaps the continuity of having Wall’s backup on contract past a one-and-done will provide meaningful results. Perhaps a 26-year old Maynor will a take the step once-upon-a-time anticipated from him in his fifth NBA season and fourth team.

Time owns the verdict on the underrated importance of this signing, even if the details of alternatives will never come to light. Losing A.J. Price, known for being the team hype-man last season, always first off the bench to greet and support battling teammates coming into a timeout, could mean a subtraction from team chemistry. But his replacement, Maynor, could be part of the spark the Wizards need to be more reliable when the offense discovers a rut (scoring droughts were a big issue last year), even if Maynor was likely $500,000 to $1 million more expensive than Price over the course of a season. The Wizards certainly could have done worse, but they probably could have done better with such an important role.

To always be continued…


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