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Thread: In depth Study: Amir John's contract vs. the NBA

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Default In depth Study: Amir John's contract vs. the NBA

    Since Amir Johnson inked his contract last year there has been a lot of comments here at the republic as to the quality of said contract. At times it seems like we are beating a dead horse. I’ll admit my bias right now. I am on the Amir bandwagon and loved that he was re-signed. When all the negative press came out surrounding his signing, many (including an article on NBA.com) got the numbers wrong; however, it didn’t stop me from wondering if we overpaid. Lately, there has been an argument that Amir is not a long term piece and that he could be moved for an equal player at a cheaper cost because Davis is our PF of the future. To weigh in on previous threads surrounding our PFs see the threads created by hateslosing, Raptor4Ever, & another one from Raptor4Ever

    Despite my negative first impressions of the contract I had come to think it was pretty reasonable considering he has shown improvement. In an attempt to justify Amir’s spot on the raptors I spent my boss’s hard earned money commissioning a study into Amir’s contract vs. other PF/C who have a comparable salary this year and/or a comparable contract over the next 5-6 years. To get a copy of the spreadsheet (broken down into 3 pages, please let me know and I can email it to you).
    All stats provided by Basket-Ball-Reference.com
    Salaries are provided by hoopshype.com


    Why did I choose per game stats as opposed to per 36? Because Darius Songalia still gets 4.8 million even though he only plays 7.1 minutes a game. When it comes to actual production/cost, game averages seem more reflective.

    Of the 45 Players making between 3 Million (Carl Landry, Matt Bonner, Joakim Noah[3.1]) and 8.2 Million (Lamar Odom, David West, Luis Scola [7.2]), here’s where Amir ranks on per-game stats:

    Minutes/Game: 17th
    Games Played: 12th
    Starts: 14th
    FG Attempts: 21st
    FG%: 2nd (behind Ronny Turiaf [2.6 attemtps vs. Amir @ 7])
    FTA/Game: 24th
    FT%: 10th
    Offensive Rebs: 7th
    Defensive Rebs: 17th
    Tot Rebs: 17th
    Assists: 18th
    Blocks: 5th
    Points: 20th
    Personal Fouls: 1st
    Age: Tied for fourth youngest with Hasheem Thabeet and YI Jianlian. Only Griffen, Love, and Beasley are younger while making >3 mil.

    None of these stats are particularly surprising for us because we know Amir’s game pretty well but to summarize: Amir is Great at FG%(even though he is slightly above avg. in attempts), Shot blocking, Offensive rebounds and not being injured. He is better than average at assists, defensive rebounds and points. He is below average at getting to the line but he hits a good percentage when he does. He is the best (read: WORST!) at personal fouls, but that doesn’t stop him from logging above average minutes. Other than fouls Amir is >average at everything compared to this group of peers. Here’s the list of guys that dominated these categories in my subjective order of dominance/ awesomeness

    Tied for first: Griffen & Love (pretty much 1 and 2 on every category)

    3rd: Harford (top 5 in almost every category)

    Rest of the Best (ranked in my subjective order of their overall ranking based on above categories):
    West
    Scola
    Blatche
    Beasley
    Green
    Millsap
    Gasol
    Varejao (this doesn't mean I think that Beasley is better than Varejao, just that he is better according to these stats)

    So based on these stats Amir is descent, but not spectacular. If he were to continue playing at this level he could be a starter, but not a good/great one. However, how good is he relative to his contract?
    This year Amir had the 24th best contract out of 45. So we have a better than average player getting paid a very slightly below average salary. Amir is giving us some value although not necessarily a whole heck of a lot. However if you continue to compare his salary year over year things get interesting. Next year Amir will be 23rd out of 38 players remaining under contract. In the 3rd year of the contract Amir will be tied with Channing Frye with the 19th best contract out of 28. The fourth year of the contract has Amir 15th out of 16, now slightly ahead of Frye. In the 5th and final year of his contract Amir is 9th out of 11th. ahead of Frye and Gooden (whose salary remains at 6.6 his 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of his contract).

    Finding: RELATIVE TO OTHER PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT, AMIR’S CONTRACT BECOMES MORE VALUABLE YEAR OVER YEAR. This is assuming he sustains his current output with no decrease or increase in production. However, the overall value of his contract will be greatly impacted by the outcome of the collective bargaining agreement which will determine the terms of new free agent contracts.

    So we got a guy whose production versus contract is good. However, there is a chance (and arguably a good one?) that he will not be our starting power forward of the future as significant improvement would still be necessary. There is an argument that Ed Davis is the PF of the future and we therefore have a redundancy or log jam (if Evans is resigned to a reasonable contract) at the four spot. Subscribers to this logic perspective argue to move Davis and get a “cheaper” player to play back up to Davis. Cheap is good, but if you really want to compete in the NBA you do have to spend some money, so ultimately value, is better.

    What happens when we compare Amir to back-up PF/C also making around the same money? When filtered for players with lots of games but few starts and playing between 32min/game (Jeff Green) and 8min/game (Hasheem Thabeet). How does Amir fair against this group of 27?

    Minutes Played: 4th
    FGs: 10th
    FG%:2nd (Turiaf again)
    FTA: 10th
    FT%: 6th
    Offensive Rebs: 2nd (Behind Jeff Foster [note: Reggie was excluded do to not enough games played])
    Defensive Rebs: 5th
    Total Rebounds: 5th
    Assists: 6th
    Blocks: 2nd (Behind Tyrus Thomas)
    Points: 10th
    Salary: 13th
    Age: Tied for youngest with Thabeet and Jianlian.

    When compared to the rest of these “back-ups” (Again it could be argued some of these guys are starters) Amir comes in top 10/27 in every category, even though he is 13th in salary. So he is still exhibiting value at 25.8minutes/game. However are they any other “cheaper” players that could net us a similar/better value? There are only 8 players on this list that are currently signed to => 3 year contracts and will make less than Amir throughout the entirety of their contract. They are:

    Jason Maxiell
    Hakim Warrick
    Brandon Bass
    Nikola Pekovic
    Chris Anderson
    Matt Bonner
    Brad Miller
    Zaza Pachulia

    Compared to these 8 players:

    Age: Youngest
    Minutes/game: 1st (2 5.5, Brandon Bass is 2nd @ 25.2)
    FGA:2nd (behind Bass w/ 8.5)
    FG%: 1st
    FT%: 3rd behind Matt Bonner and Brandon Bass
    Offensive Rebs: 1st, Bass is second
    Defensive Rebs: 1st, Bass is second
    TOT rebs: Amir followed by Bass
    Assists: 2nd Behind Brad Miller
    Blocks: 1st (Anderson Second)
    Points: 2nd behind Bass

    So it’s not surprising that Amir and Bass are 1-2 in almost every category because they play the most minutes. So far we have used per game stats because they reflect what is going on. However, when we shift to the possibility of could someone replace Johnson and duplicate his production per game stats are limited. What happens when we compare the “per 36 minutes” stats of these 9 players?

    FGA: Bass, Warrick, Pekovic, Amir
    FG%: Amir, Andersen, Warrick, Maxiell
    FTA: Warrick, Andersen, Pachulia, Pekovic, Bass, Maxiell, Amir
    FT%: Bass, Miller, Amir
    Off Rebs: Pekovic, Amir, Andersen
    Def Rebs: Andersen, Pachulia, Amir
    TOT: Andersen, Pachulia, Amir
    Assists: Miller, Pachulia, tied: Amir/Warrick
    Blocks: Anderson, Amir, Pekovic
    Fouls: Pekovic, Pachulia, Amir (WOW there are people with worse foul problems than Amir! )
    Points: Warrick, Bass, Pekovic, Amir

    It is pretty easy to argue that Andersen is better at defense than Amir and that Warrick and Bass are better offensively; however, it would be very hard to argue that any of these players are better than Amir at both ends. Amir also is the youngest of this group, so you could argue that he is as likely, if not more likely to improve relative to the rest of these guys.

    Based on what I’ve learned by going through this exercise, I would say that over the next two years…

    Best Case Scenario: Amir’s numbers improve significantly and although he is not an all-star is a slightly better than average starting Power Forward.

    Worst Case Scenario: His numbers stay the same, or decline slightly, and we have a slightly overpaid back-up Power Forward.

    Most Likely Scenario: Amir's production stays the same or goes up slightly and we have a very valuable back-up power forward.

    Based on Amir’s age, current production, and salary, combined with the organization not wanting to go to much younger, it would be VERY difficult to replace Amir’s production in both offense and defense with a “cheaper” player. Therefore, it makes sense to keep Amir for at least the next two seasons, at which point his contract will still be valuable even if he doesn't "fit" with the team or is unhappy in his role.

    ***Of course this all depends on the impact of the new CBA. If the new CBA significantly lowers the amount that players make then Amir’s contract won’t be as good as relatively speaker; however, it will still be good compared to all the rest of the contracts that were signed before the new agreement***

    This post took me over two days to compile analyse and write so I appreciate feedback, especially if you think it was too long/useless.
    Thanks!

    ***Also if one of the moderators could fix the thread title so it says "Amir Johnson's" not "Amir John's" I'd appreciate it.
    Last edited by ezz_bee; Thu May 12th, 2011 at 11:49 PM. Reason: Cleaned up some grammatical errors and misspellings
    "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee

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    Raptors Republic All-Star RaptorsFan4Life's Avatar
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    Wow, WALL OF TEXT! I guess I'll put it on my to read list.

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    Raptors Republic Rookie chrischris's Avatar
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    Great read. This was the BEST breakdown of any player I have ever seen. Nice job.

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    Raptors Republic Rookie Liston's Avatar
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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Thanks tom! I remember reading the hickory high article around the time my opinion on Amir changed but couldn't remember where I got it. I also thought of comparing using advanced metrics but couldn't handle anymore cutting/pasting/sorting...etc. so it's good you added the link to the statophile article
    "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee

    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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    Raptors Republic Starter albertan_10's Avatar
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    that was pretty good. I think you should do one for Bargnani. I'm scared of what the outcome might be but it will be insightful nonetheless

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    Raptors Republic Rookie CalibreMC's Avatar
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    Nice Job Good read

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    Raptors Republic Starter jeff_hostetler's Avatar
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    AHA! One of the greatest posts of all time!

    +1 to the sustained awesomeness of the Republic.

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    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    That was very good. Thank you ezz_bee. One thing to keep in mind is guys like Horford and Noah are near max level players starting next year, Griffin and Love will join them soon enough. Amir is also younger (years in fact) than many such as Scola, Green, Millsap, Miller, and Andersen. These two factors alone combined with he is under contract for the next 4 seasons is encouraging, in my opinion.

    I am fine with the contract - now. My only complaint with the Amir contract was the Raps were basically bidding against themselves it seems. 5 years and $25M might have sufficed versus 5 and $30M. Either way, what is done is done and I'm glad he is a part of the team moving forward.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star WJF's Avatar
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    Solid read, I hope that the people that read this can do so without their already tainted bias. Amir is what he is, and average player on an average contract. If he continues to increase his production he will be a good player on a bargain contract.

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    Raptors Republic Starter jeff_hostetler's Avatar
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    Only issue with this analysis is, like so often with just looking at stats (other than blocks), it's hard to discern a player's relative defensive skill, and the value they bring in that department.

    What about looking at opponent FG%, opponent PPG, opponent PER? Basically measure his opponent's offense and compare those to the opponents of the other players mentioned above.
    Last edited by jeff_hostetler; Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 09:45 AM. Reason: typo

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Quote albertan_10 wrote: View Post
    that was pretty good. I think you should do one for Bargnani. I'm scared of what the outcome might be but it will be insightful nonetheless
    Based on the time it took to compile this list I don't forsee me doing one on any other raptor in the near future although I am curious how bargs and Calderon would hold up. As jeff_hostetler points out these stats are offensively skewed. That was why varejao didn't do well even though he's going to get 10 mil next year. I wasn't afraid to use them for Amir because he is pretty solid defensively IMO. Bargs and Calderon would probably look pretty descent in this kind of analysis because their percieved defensive weaknesses are harder to measure. Like jeff also points out advanced metrics would help. Ok now I really want to do one on bargs... My gee fee gets back from the uk on Monday so if I can find some time this weekend I'll try and pit something together. Although it won't be quite as in-depth.

    ***EDIT*** It is Joakim Noah who joes from 3 mil to 10 mil next season not Varejao, but the point still is valid.
    Last edited by ezz_bee; Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 10:01 AM.
    "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee

    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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    Raptors Republic Starter jeff_hostetler's Avatar
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    From 82 games @ the PF position (opponent eFG%, opponent PPG, opponent PER - 48 minute production):

    Amir: .508 - 21 - 16.9
    Griffin: .486 - 21.4 - 14.8
    Love: .496 - 23.7 - 15.7
    Horford: .444 - 17.6 - 12
    West: .477 - 17.7 - 13.9
    Scola: .516 - 22.9 - 18.9
    Blatche: .513 - 19.9 - 17.6
    Beasley: .537 - 23.7 - 18.1 (worse numbers across the board at SF)
    Green: .538 - 25.8 - 21.4
    Millsap: .533 - 22.5 - 19.4

    Among the above 10, Amir ranks 5th in opponents eFG%, 4th in opponents PPG, and 5th in opp. PER. So, out of the above starters, Amir ranks firmly in the middle in terms of his ability to limit his opponent.

    Maxiell: .584 - 26.6 - 25.1
    Warrick: .534 - 21.3 - 15.8
    Bass: .486 - 19.1 - 13.4
    Pekovic: .600 - 21.4 - 18.5
    Bonner: .482 - 19.4 - 13.4
    Landry: .502 - 19.5 - 16.2

    Among the above 7 (including Amir, obviously), he ranks 4th in eFG%, 4th in PPG, and 5th in PER.

    So these numbers tend to show that Amir plays Defense to the average for other players like him. They also show that the good backup PFs play just as well on D (if not slightly better) as a good young starter, which Amir does.
    Last edited by jeff_hostetler; Fri Mar 25th, 2011 at 09:48 AM.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star ezz_bee's Avatar
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    Quote jeff_hostetler wrote: View Post
    From 82 games @ the PF position (opponent eFG%, opponent PPG, opponent PER - 48 minute production):

    Amir: .508 - 21 - 16.9
    Griffin: .486 - 21.4 - 14.8
    Love: .496 - 23.7 - 15.7
    Horford: .444 - 17.6 - 12
    West: .477 - 17.7 - 13.9
    Scola: .516 - 22.9 - 18.9
    Blatche: .513 - 19.9 - 17.6
    Beasley: .537 - 23.7 - 18.1 (worse numbers across the board at SF)
    Green: .538 - 25.8 - 21.4
    Millsap: .533 - 22.5 - 19.4

    Among the above 10, Amir ranks 5th in opponents eFG%, 4th in opponents PPG, and 5th in opp. PER. So, out of the above starters, Amir ranks firmly in the middle in terms of his ability to limit his opponent.

    Maxiell: .584 - 26.6 - 25.1
    Warrick: .534 - 21.3 - 15.8
    Bass: .486 - 19.1 - 13.4
    Pekovic: .600 - 21.4 - 18.5
    Bonner: .482 - 19.4 - 13.4
    Landry: .502 - 19.5 - 16.2

    Among the above 7 (including Amir, obviously), he ranks 4th in eFG%, 4th in PPG, and 5th in PER.

    So these numbers tend to show that Amir plays Defense to the average for other players like him. They also show that the good backup PFs play just as well on D (if not slightly better) as a good young starter, which Amir does.

    Awesome sauce! Coangelo should fire his team at the raps and hire the republic to do his number crunching!
    "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee

    "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon

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    Raptors Republic Veteran Bendit's Avatar
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    Well done! Intangibles like heart, toughness, playing with pain, coachable, good teammate etc cannot be quantified or easily priced. AJ has much of these as well.

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    Yet I predict people will still complain that he's overpaid. There are some people who, no matter how much evidence you give them, will still close their eyes and deny it.
    Read my blog, The Picket Fence. Guaranteed to make you think or your money back!
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    Raptors Republic Starter jeff_hostetler's Avatar
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    Quote Tim W. wrote: View Post
    Yet I predict people will still complain that he's overpaid. There are some people who, no matter how much evidence you give them, will still close their eyes and deny it.
    Christians? People who believe 9/11 wasn't an inside job? People who love Andrea Bargnani?

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    Raptors Republic Icon mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Quote Tim W. wrote: View Post
    Yet I predict people will still complain that he's overpaid. There are some people who, no matter how much evidence you give them, will still close their eyes and deny it.
    It is easier to go with consensus and be wrong than to stand on your own and be right.

    The consensus is he signed a 5 year, $34M contract yet that is clearly incorrect. Since people and especially media can't get that fact correct I do not think he or his supporters will have much luck in the near future convincing people he is worth the contract or is reasonably paid.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar heinz57's Avatar
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    Quote jeff_hostetler wrote: View Post
    Christians?
    you got beef with people who believe in an all powerful invisible entity who somehow inpregnated a virgin who gave birth to a freakish kid in a manger who could walk on water and was resurrected from the dead?

    for shame, sir.

    i'm going to ride over there on my unicorn and adminster a swift beating to you with the asgardian thunder god Thor's mighty hammer Mjollnir, that was given to me by a goblin for the price of three magic beans.

    RELIGION IS REAL!

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    Raptors Republic Starter bloodyhandedgod's Avatar
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    A great thread. Well done on the work.
    And yes, we should keep Amir.

    And thanks to this thread I feel even better about it. Imagine if he continues to improve?
    I have no idea who Chukwudiebere Maduabum is, but on his Draft Express profile, hes listed as Chu Chu. I think hes worthy of picking just for that. He immediately is in the running for best All-Time NBA name. -Tim W.

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