Tuesday, August 21

Predicting Chris Wilcox

Back in the 1980s, when the Seahawks were the kings of Seattle, I remember a reporter asking Chuck Knox, why there were so few good tight ends in the NFL. The coach’s response was classic Knox – terse, and to the point: “They’re all power forwards in the NBA.”

The taciturn one made a good point, in that power forwards and tight ends are very similar physically – tall, strong, fast, powerful. Heck, if you fit all those qualifications, would you rather average 20 points a game in a “non-contact” sport, or catch 3 balls a week while being besieged by maniacal linebackers? Not exactly a tough call, there.

Anyways, to my point, in a way Sonic power forward Chris Wilcox has some similarities to former Seahawk tight end Jerramy Stevens. I don’t mean off the field, that would be an insult to Wilcox, but rather on the field. Both are immensely gifted physically, both were picked in the first round because of their potential, both attended successful big-time college programs ... and both have been disappointments in their pro careers.

Last season, though, Wilcox demonstrated that his stellar stint the previous spring was not a mirage as he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. Of course, it helps when you average a career-high in minutes, but even his per 40 minute numbers were pretty much at or above his career numbers.

So what’s going to happen to the former Terrapin this season? (Speaking of which, Wilcox makes it four Sonics with ties to Maryland, joining Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Delonte West. Odd.). Well, after five seasons in the league, I think it’s safe to say that we know what we’re getting with Chris Wilcox. Other than a fluky two-month span in Seattle in 2006, Wilcox has shot between 51.4% and 52.9% from the field, made 6.7 field goals per 40 minutes, averaged about 7 defensive boards per 40, 1.5 assists, a steal, .75 blocks, a couple of turnovers, and a few fantastic dunks.

There are a few mitigating factors for his production this year, however.

1) Minutes. With Durant and Green on board, and with Robert Swift taking some center minutes away from Nick Collison, Wilcox will likely see his minutes decline from 31.5 to around 28 or 29.

2) Shot attempts. It’s possible that Wilcox will get more attempts this year, as Allen and Lewis won’t be around to hog the ... err, lead the offense. There are about 35 shots a night missing from the lineup this season with Allen/Lewis gone, and even if Durant takes 20 a night, that still leaves plenty for everyone else to divvy up. Figure that Wilcox’ drop in minutes will be matched by an increase in looks. At the very least, he won’t have to stand around waiting for Allen to come off of screens 4 trips out of 5.

3) Free throws. Wilcox boosted his FTA/48 quite a bit last season, and hopefully that’s a trend that continues into the coming season.

That’s about it for analysis. Wilcox – for as frustrating as he’s been as a pro – has actually been pretty consistent, so it’s not difficult to guess what he’s going to do this season, assuming Sam Presti doesn’t deal him away mid-season. Where does it all leave us? Here’s how I figure it, on a per-game basis.

29 minutes, 13 points, 6.5 rebounds

And that’s Chris Wilcox, a 25-year-old power forward who will throw up the odd 25/15 to get you excited, then follow it up with a week’s worth of 11/4s to drench you in the cold water of reality. And considering his lack of interest in playing defense, and the Sonics’ revived interest in same, this season may be our last chance to see him in action.

10 comments:

AK1984 said...

As it stands with the present roster construction, I've got Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison penciled in at 32 minutes per game apiece at center and power forward, respectively, with Robert Swift and Kurt Thomas as their respective backups.

On offense, Wilcox is an athletic freak who excels in the fast break (Effective Field-Goal Percentage On Dunks: 88.7%). Moreover, he's a more effective shooter in the low-post (Effective Field-Goal Percentage On Close Shots: 56.7%) than along the high-post (Effective Field-Goal Percentage On Jump Shots: 31.4%).

Defensively, though, Wilcox indolence has stunted his all-around growth as a player (Opponent Efficiency Rating: 20.7; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 112.2; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: +1.5; Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 52.3%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: +2.1%).

I, therefore, advocated signing Wilcox to no more than the one-year, $3.6 million qualifying offer that he was tendered during the last off-season. Currently, I totally support Sam Presti dealing him elsewhere for a dominating defensive presence in the interior.

For example, a trade whereby the Seattle Supersonics send Wilcox ($6,500,000) and Luke Ridnour ($3,250,000 Incoming Salary & $6,500,000 Outgoing Salary) [Base Year Compensation Player] to the Washington Wizards for Antonio Daniels ($5,800,000) and Brendan Haywood ($5,000,000) would be a tremendous upgrade not only on defense, but also for the half-court offense.

http://realgm.com/src_checktrade.php?tradeid=4188824

That's just a pipe dream, though.

ryan said...

I think you're right that it's a pipe dream. It's a good trade for the Sonics because AD would be a nice fit for this team, and Haywood is a good shot-blocker, but then you've got new problems:

-How do you divide up minutes between Swift, Collison, Haywood, and Kurt Thomas at the 5? It's already crowded there, and if you figure Swift gets 20-25 minutes, Collison 25-30, and Thomas about 18, that doesn't leave much left for Brendan.

-I don't know that Luke is a great fit for Washington. Arenas is such a commanding figure on offense that he needs a player more like AD alongside him than someone like Luke.

Still, the Sonics ought to explore every option they can with Luke or Wilcox, because it's obvious that the team has too many players that will need minutes this year.

Also, I think Swifty is going to start at center. You've got to figure that Presti wants to see him get an opportunity to prove that he's ready to be an NBA center.

Rock said...

AK 1984, that is a nice trade proposal.

I have been advocating a bolder approach - trading for Jermaine Oneal. I would give up 4 of our 5 picks next year plus the Phoenix 2010 #1 pick plus Wally, Watson on Wilkins. Indiana would probably demand Thomas or Wilcox be included (or Luke or Petro or Sene). I would still do the trade.

Anonymous said...

AK... just to add to the conversation... Trading for Haywood & A. Daniels makes no sense.

AD is old & getting older - does not fit at all with trying to build around K. Durrant. Great Guy - solid Back-Up PG - but with 3 years left on his salary - not interested. I would not trade Luke straight up for AD.

And Haywood is - well - crappy. I mean - he sucks - period.

Luke played great the first 2 months last year - got in a funk with injuries & Hill's stupid rotations. Luke bears some resposibiltiy for sure in that - but the whole team was screwed up & Hill was clueless.

Luke is younger & still has upside IMO. He's had 3 coaches in 4 years. Young PG's take time to develop - patience - hard for us fans to give him but I'd be patient with Luke & give him this year to take his game up a level with a new coach. I would not give up on Luke for a career back-up PG who is in his 30's with 3 years & about 18 million left on his contract. I love AD & think he is a quality professional. But I don't trade him for Luke.

Wilcox has been inconsistent etc. -but no way I trade him for Haywood.

The JO trade idea is interesting & has merrit Rock - I doubt Presti will do it but it is interesting. Indy likley wants to deal JO - don't know if they would take what you suggest > I see no way they take Wally S. - just no way.

AK1984 said...

"And Haywood is - well - crappy. I mean - he sucks - period."

Nope, Brendan Haywood -- regardless of his reported attitude problems, which are a legitimate point of contention -- has been a great defender and an all-around proficient player thus far throughout his career.

2006-2007: Net +/- Production: +4.0 & Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -6.6

2005-2006: Net +/- Production: +1.3 Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -4.1

2004-2005: Net +/- Production: +11.5 & Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -9.9

2003-2004: Net +/- Production: +5.1 & Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -5.1

2002-2003: Net +/- Production: +1.9 & Opponents' Net Points Per 48 Minutes: -2.6

In this case, the reality about Haywood's undeniable abilities thoroughly trumps your baseless perception of him.

I, however, will admit that my wariness toward acquiring Haywood -- which is due to his off-court issues with Etan Thomas over playing time -- would probably prevent me from pulling the trigger on such a deal.

"AD is old & getting older - does not fit at all with trying to build around K. Durrant. Great Guy - solid Back-Up PG - but with 3 years left on his salary - not interested. I would not trade Luke straight up for AD."

Antonio Daniels, 32, was a productive ball-handler (Assists Per 48 Minutes: 7.9 & Hands Rating: 22.3), passer (Assists To Turnover Ratio: 4.2 & Passing Rating: 10.4), shooter (Effective Field-Goal Percentage: 46.8% & Free-Throw Shooting Percentage: 83.2%), slasher (21.7% Of Field-Goal Attempts Resulted In A Foul), and defender (Opponent Efficiency Rating: 13.9) last season.

Undoubtedly, Daniels is head-and-shoulders more skillful than fellow combo guard Delonte West—especially at running the point.

During the 2006-2007 playoffs, by the way, Daniels had a divine run that everyone should analyze for themselves. Indeed, anyone who claims that Daniels is an over-the-hill has-been is sorely mistaken.

Anonymous said...

AK....

I like AD & agree he can be a productive player. I loved him when he was with the Sonics. But at 32 I would not bring him in as a key component of rebuilding the Sonics - especially given his 3 more years of salary totalling about 18 million.

We can agree to disagree on haywood - I don't get to excited about your statistics - I've seen him play & I think he is a mediocre nothing of an NBA player - along with being a questionable locker-room guy as you mention.

Trades are fun to discuss & speculate on etc. - I'm just saying Luke & wilcox for Haywood & AD had zero appeal to me.

AK1984 said...

Okay, I'll admit that Antonio Daniels might begin to fade as a player during the next couple of seasons. In addition, Daniels is the sort of gutsy, indomitable player who's body could wear down due to the rigors of playing hard-nosed basketball.

At any rate, though, it'll be interesting to see how Daniels performs in the near future.

Regarding Brendan Haywood, he's the type of skilled defensive player who doesn't receive enough credit. Hell, if it weren't for Haywood's questionable character, then attempting to acquire him would be a no-brainer.

Anyway, as it concerns interior players in the NBA, the following my recently revised list -- which, by the way, is in descending order -- of the most undervalued man-to-man, one-on-one low-post and/or high-post defenders.

15. Andrew Bogut (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 52.1%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -0.2%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 110.7; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -4.6; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +3.7)

14. Nick Collison (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 50.6%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -2.6%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 110.4; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -3.2; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +2.0)

13. Zaza Pachulia (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 50.1%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -0.4%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 107.4; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -4.7; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +4.7)

12. Maybyner "NenĂª" Hilario (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 49.3%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -1.1%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 104.9; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -3.6; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +3.2)

11. Emeka Okafor (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 49.0%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -2.6%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 106.4; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -5.8; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +3.1)

10. P.J. Brown (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 47.5%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: +0.4%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 98.4; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -3.5; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +2.2)

9. Andris Biedrins (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 50.1%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -1.2%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 106.8; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -4.6; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +6.9)

8. Antonio McDyess (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 46.3%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -2.6%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 102.7; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -4.0; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +6.1)

7. Kurt Thomas (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 47.8%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -2.1%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 103.8; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -4.9; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +4.3)

6. Erick Dampier (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 47.4%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -0.7%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 101.8; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -4.4; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +7.3)

5. Brendan Haywood (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 50.7%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -1.8%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 108.1; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -6.6; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +4.0)

4. Radoslav Nesterovic (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 48.7%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -2.8%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 103.2; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -6.0; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +3.4)

3. Jason Collins (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 48.3%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -1.3%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 103.2; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -7.5; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +4.9)

2. Jarron Collins (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 49.3%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -0.4%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 101.4; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -8.9; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +3.4)

1. Joel Przybilla (Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: 48.5%; Net Effective Field-Goal Percentage Allowed: -2.8%; Opponents' Points Per 100 Possessions: 104.1; Opponents' Net Points Per 100 Possessions: -8.4; On-Court/Off-Court Net +/- Production: +2.5)

The one thing that each of those ten defensive stalwarts have in common is a positive on-court/off-court net +/- production rating; thus, regardless of any shortcomings on offense, they're all exceptional defenders who provide a tangible contribution for their respective teams.

Yet, as it is, that quality usually goes unheralded by not only casual fans, but also most sportswriters within the mainstream media—which is a downright shame.

In contrast to the ol' adage, ultimately, ignorance is not bliss.

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