Friday, January 4, 2013

Checking In on the Contract Extension Signers

Before the season began/right as it began 6 players from the 2009 draft class signed extensions ranging from $38 million to $80 million.  With a little more than a third of the season in the books, let's take a look at all of the re-upped players' performances so far.

Stephen Curry
This is extension was one of the more tricky ones as it was clear that Curry deserved it, but the condition of his ankles were still in doubt.  Well, outside of a preseason incident in Portland, Curry's ankles have been just fine.  He has played in every Warriors game this year and has led to the team to a surprising 21-10 start.  Still his play hasn't been up to what we have seen out of Curry before as he is only shooting 42.8% from the filed, a career low (although he has been shooting 45% from the field over the past three weeks which is a huge improvement).  A lot of this can be attributed to being the focal point on offense without Monta Ellis (Only 37.7% of his field goal makes are assisted, by far a career low).  He is only taking 1.6 shots at the rim per 40 minutes, a career low which speaks to some lingering hesitance with his ankle.  Once he gains more confidence and forgets about his ankle woes this number should go up.  There have undoubtedly been some struggles, but his contract has definitely been worth it, especially when you consider what Curry would demand on the open market this summer.

DeMar DeRozan
It's the midsize/multi-year contracts for mediocre players that really kill a team's cap.  That is pretty much what this is.  DeRozan is the classic player on a bad team that will put up good point totals, but not much else.  The Raptors are actually 3.7 points per 100 possessions better when he sits.  DeRozan hasn't upped his assist rate (he has cut his turnovers though) and isn't much of a creator despite a 23.65 usage rate.  His improvements on offense have been nice, especially in the post where he is 20th best in points per play.  Still, his outside shooting (or lack thereof) hurts the Raps' spacing and the team shoots nearly 4% better at the rim without DeRozan.  His defense has improved, but it still isn't a big plus.  In the long run Toronto will regret this deal but, it hasn't been a complete disaster thus far.

James Harden
After being traded, Harden was promptly given the five year max from his new team, the Rockets.  So far, locking up The Beard for five years has looked like an excellent move.  He was probably the most efficient offensive player in basketball last year and his efficiency has obviously gone down with a higher usage. Despite that, he still is on the shortlist for most efficient on offense.  Harden is the number one player in the NBA in points per play as the pick and roll ball handler and has developed great chemistry with Omer Asik.  He draws fouls on nearly 13% of his possessions, an astronomical number.  He takes just above three fourths of his shots either at the rim or behind the three point line, a recipe for efficiency.  His defense has been mediocre and it obviously hasn't been the main focus of his energy.  His early leak outs have been a huge part of the Rockets' thriving transition game, but aren't the best strategy for defense.  With a third of the season gone it is clear that Harden is deserving of the "franchise player" type deal he got as he has lead Houston into the playoffs race.

Jrue Holiday
This contract is looking better and better by the day.  Outside of Harden, Holiday has been the best player of the extension signers.  He is in the running for the Most Improved Player award and has been playing at an all-star level.  Heck, he might even be the fifth best point guard in the NBA (My top 5 ranked by this season's play only: Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, and Holiday).  He has been the leader on an otherwise very average Sixers squad in the stead of Andrew Bynum.  He has blown away his previous career highs in points, assist rate, field goal percent, and PER.  There's no doubt that 18 points and 9 assists on 45% shooting along with stellar defense is production worthy of a player making scant over $40 million over four years.
Taj Gibson
Gibson so far this season has been a little underwhelming considering the money he signed for.  There are a couple of things that we know are a given with Gibson; his defense and rebounding will always be there.  He is still making a huge impact on both these categories when he steps on the court; the Bulls' defensive rating is nearly six points per 100 possessions better with Gibson and he hikes Chicago's rebound rate from a mark that would be 15th in the league to one that would be second.  The problem, of course, is offense.  He is shooting only 28% from 16-23 feet (for reference, Carlos Boozer is shooting 39% from there and Joakim Noah is shooting 37%).  Until this improves it's going to be tough playing him huge minutes.  I really think he can live up to his hefty contract, but he won't be able to until he improves his offensive game and and can get more consistent minutes.
Ty Lawson  
It's been a rough year for Ty Lawson to say the least.  He seems to have lost all confidence which is the opposite of what you would think a big contract would do to a player.  He isn't taking open looks and when he does shoot he is doing it horribly.  His 40.8% from the field, 30.8% from three, and 69.2% from the line are far below his career numbers.  He isn't assisting at the rate he got to last year and his PER is well below league average.  Lastly, the Nuggets are more than 8 points per 100 possessions better without Ty Lawson.  Yikes.  Doesn't sound like the things you want from a guy making $12 million a year.  While I do like Lawson's game and believe he might just be in a slump, I wouldn't be surprised if GM Masai Ujiri pulled the trigger on a trade.  He has immediately moved two other players after paying them big money (Aaron Afflalo, and Nene) so it is within the realm of possibility.

All statistics courtesy of Hoopdata, Basketball Reference, mySynergySports and                                  


  1. Are you guys going to make anymore posts? It seems that I've found out about this site too late..

    1. Maybe. You can find my work at, Clipperblog, and NBA247365. Surest bet to find my stuff is to follow me on twitter

    2. haha I already read those sites as well. Alright, I'm looking forward to reading your posts on those sites as well.