Home » NBA » Pelton mailbag: Is Draymond Green a top-10 player right now?

Pelton mailbag: Is Draymond Green a top-10 player right now?



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This week’s mailbag features your questions on the best lefty guards in NBA history, Golden State’s bench, the future center market, Draymond Green’s status as a top-10 player and more.

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There’s no doubt that your best argument is a plus-minus metric like ESPN’s real plus-minus (RPM), which also incorporates box-score stats. Green ranked seventh in the NBA in RPM this season, ahead of MVP favorites James Harden and Russell Westbrook, because only Rudy Gobert of the had a better defensive RPM.Editor’s PicksNBA draft 2017: Key dates, news and analysisFrom prospect projections to the lottery and draft night, ESPN.com has complete coverage of the 2017 NBA draft.

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cheap nba tickets for sale While RPM can be noisy from season to season, factoring in multiple seasons of data actually makes Green look even better. He’s second in the results published by RPM co-creator Jerry Engelmann on Twitter, behind only LeBron James.

cheap basketball jerseys reddit wtf imgur So there’s ample evidence that Green has been one of the 10 most valuable players in the league the past few seasons. The one question that could be raised is whether his offense would translate quite as well in a situation in which he was asked to create more for himself instead of playing off of ’ other stars. But if you’re overvaluing him, I doubt it’s by much.

Is Harden already the best left-handed guard of all time? #peltonmailbag

— Kevin Garrity (@kg_cagey) May 5, 2017

Hmm. My championships added metric would say yes. Adding in his 2016-17 regular season and All-Star appearance — but not yet crediting him for where he’ll finish in MVP voting and his playoff performance — Harden is up to 54th in NBA history, best among left-handed guards.

There were a pair of southpaw guards on the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list, compiled for the league’s 50th anniversary in 1996: Hall of Famers Nate “Tiny” Archibald and Lenny Wilkens. Neither ranks in the top 100 in championships added, largely because they didn’t make much of an impact in the postseason.

Archibald’s teams reached the playoffs just once in his first nine years, and while Wilkens’ St. Louis Hawks were a fixture in the postseason, he never made it back after being traded to the Seattle SuperSonics.

So the toughest competition for Harden in championships added is actually Manu Ginobili, who ranks 65th. Ginobili still has more career value, but Harden has several seasons better than Ginobili’s best, and that peak value gives him the edge.

@kpelton #peltonmailbag can u dispel the myth that Warriors depth is worst than last year. 2017 Bench > than players lost 2017 production

— Muna F. Bear (@Munabear007) May 9, 2017

Given the way that playing alongside Golden State’s stars benefits role players, I’m not sure we’d want to look at the comparison of how their former players performed this season — especially since Festus Ezeli never got on the court due to his knee. Instead, let’s take a look at last season’s Warriors bench vs. this season’s by RPM and Basketball-Reference.com’s box plus-minus (BPM).

2016 Warriors benchPlayerMPGRPMBPMAndre Iguodala26.61.71.6Shaun Livingston19.50.3-0.5Festus Ezeli16.71.4-0.1Leandro Barbosa15.9-1.6-2.1Brandon Rush14.7-3.4-1.3Marreese Speights11.6-1.2-3.9Ian Clark8.8-3.0Anderson Varejao8.5-1.5-2.52017 Warriors benchPlayerMPGRPMBPMAndre Iguodala26.33.63.0Matt Barnes20.5-1.20.6Shaun Livingston17.7-3.0-2.0Patrick McCaw15.1-5.2-1.7Ian Clark14.8-3.1-2.0David West12.62.12.2JaVale McGee9.61.20.8James McAdoo8.8-2.2-0.5Intriguingly, maybe the biggest source of decline for the Warriors was Shaun Livingston regressing this season. A better season from Andre Iguodala helped offset that, and together David West and JaVale McGee were probably more productive than Ezeli. So I would take the 2017 Golden State bench over its 2016 counterparts.

The Raps had difficulties even putting Jonas Valanciunas on the floor at times during their two series. Is this a canary in the coal mine situation? Is it possible that in, say, three years you might be paying max money to a 3-and-D wing that today is making the mid-level and someone like JV who today is making a mini-max is fighting for some team’s mid-level? — Scott Dedels

So far in the playoffs, 7-footers have been on the court for 8.2 percent of all minutes, which is down from 9.6 percent during the regular season but also the highest playoff rate since 2010-11.

There has been a trend in recent seasons toward 7-footers playing fewer minutes in the playoffs, which certainly makes sense, given the anecdotal examples like Valanciunas. But the trend over time is less clear. You have to go all the way back to 1994-95 to find a regular season when 7-footers played a higher percentage of minutes than 2016-17. And the playoff percentages have fluctuated around more or less the same average since about 2003-04.

Add in the fact that teams still need to win in the regular season to get to the playoffs, and I think that the shift in the center market may prove less about the demand side of the equation and more about the supply size. With so many centers capable of productive offensive play as part of offenses with great floor spacing, I think the supply has increased more than the demand has decreased. It’s the number of good options that figures to erode salaries for any individual center.

@kpelton Who wins a 7 game series: 1979 Supersonics or 1996 Supersonics? #peltonmailbag

— R McIntyre (@RobbyM20) May 5, 2017

Even though the 1978-79 team won the championship and the 1995-96 team lost in the NBA Finals, I think the 1996 squad would be a heavy favorite in a series.

The Sonics’ back-to-back Finals runs in 1978 and 1979 happened to coincide with a low point for the NBA in terms of elite teams between the ABA-NBA merger and the arrival of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson the following season. So the Sonics won it all with a 52-30 record that would have put them fourth in this season’s Western Conference.

By contrast, the 1995-96 Sonics won a franchise-record 64 games. The league was down a little after adding two expansion teams in 1995-96, one reason there were three teams that won 60-plus games, but even after accounting for that I think they were the far better team.