Take Three: Diminishing Returns, Taking out Peja, Monster Alabi

A take on diminishing returns with top picks, Peja’s situation and an Alabi monster game.

Take One: Hanging on to top picks

From TrueHoop a few days ago:

In David Berri and Martin Schmidt’s book “Stumbling on Wins” they share data showing that draft position has a huge impact on minutes. Which makes a certain sense. “We used a really high draft pick on that guy … give him every chance to succeed,” kind of deal.

Doing that for a few months, or a season … that’s probably just smart, as you want to give the player time to adjust. You saw something in him that made you pick him so high. There is some adjustment period to the NBA. But teams often do it past the point of diminishing returns. Why?

Well, one reason would be because cutting a lottery pick seals the analysis of that pick as bad. Which hurts a GM’s reputation as a talent evaluator. Which hurts a GM’s ability to get his next scarce and lucrative GM job. So there’s always going to be a lot of pressure to have those high-profile picks work out.

But after a certain point, it’s the dumbest thing in the world. And if I were an owner, I’d look for a GM who was working in the best interests of my team by moving on quickly when things don’t work out. Among a team’s most precious resources are high draft picks. Perhaps an even more precious resource is playing time. So, you blew a huge draft pick on somebody who didn’t work out. Bummer. But now, you’re going to compound the error by blowing even more resources on the same dude?

The first thing that popped into mind was Bryan Colangelo’s love affair with Andrea Bargnani. From one angle, Colangelo deserves credit for sticking with Bargnani who is sure to be a decent offensive player for the rest of his NBA career. From the other, the notion that he is franchise-player material might sound absurd after 4 1/2 years of experience, if that ability were there, surely it would have surfaced by now in spades. The TrueHoop piece makes sense – see Adam Morrison, Kwame Brown, Darko Milicic and countless others – and it also found me struggling to find examples where top picks “blossomed” into All-Star type talent later in their careers, especially after struggling immensely the first few, Jermaine O’Neal comes to mind but that was due to a lack of playing time. If Andrea Bargnani turns into a perennial All-Star, it will be one of the bigger rebounds in the NBA.

Take Two: Peja’s Injury

Peja is nowhere to be found and he’s not injured. I mean, if he was injured he would’ve been healed by now. The Raptors have two options with him. Either they hang on to him and let his deal expire, thus going into the summer with some cap space. Or, they could flip him to someone looking for shooting and experience, and in return net a draft pick. If the return contracts are also expiring, it’s a no-brainer of a deal to make, if they’re not then Colangelo has something to think about. With the Carmelo trade talk heating up, I’m sure Colangelo is at least looking to see whether he can dangle Peja’s expiring contract somewhere in the middle of a three/four team trade which would net us back something. There is a third option, it’s to take Peja in the back and put him down.

Take Three: Solomon Alabi update

Alabi had a monster game in the D-League – 31min, 20pts, 9-11FG, 11 reb. Just thought you should know.

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