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Is Joe Smith The Answer?

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"Did those rumors say what we are giving up for him? What am I going to do with another big? Am I just collecting them?" Smith said with a laugh.

In leu of Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith's recent statement to the Orlando Sentinel denying his interest in acquiring an additional big man (Oklahoma City Thunder's Joe Smith), I decided to snoop around and see if this decision was good or bad for the team. 

 

A recent quote I came across by professor Dave Berri from the Wages of Wins Journal caught my eye regarding big men on elite teams:

"Cleveland (with Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, and A nderson Varejao), Boston (with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins), and the Lakers (with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) have all found some success playing big players.  In other words, the top teams seem to think that bigger is better in basketball.

 

Perhaps the Magic could learn from the example of the NBA’s top teams."

Perhaps.

 

Given what was stated above, I felt it was important to see if the Magic's big men were up to snuff compared to the other top teams in the NBA. 

 

When comparing big men, I wanted to see how Orlando stacked up against strictly the Eastern bloc (Boston, Cleveland) of the triumvirate stated above. 

 

Team A

Player A - PER (13.42), Offensive Rating (110), Defensive Rating (100)

Player B - PER (19.05), Offensive Rating (120), Defensive Rating (94)

 

Team B

Player A - PER (17.08), Offensive Rating (123), Defensive Rating (96)

Player B - PER (12.80), Offensive Rating (113), Defensive Rating (95)

 

Team C

Player A - PER (13.90), Offensive Rating (103), Defensive Rating (96)

Player B - PER (16.73), Offensive Rating (113), Defensive Rating (98)

 

Click after the jump to see the results. 

 

Orlando Magic

Tony Battie - PER (13.42), Offensive Rating (110), Defensive Rating (100) [16.5 min]

Marcin Gortat - PER (19.05), Offensive Rating (120), Defensive Rating (94) [10.7 min]

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Anderson Varejao - PER (17.08), Offensive Rating (123), Defensive Rating (96) [26.1 min]

Ben Wallace - PER (12.80), Offensive Rating (113), Defensive Rating (95) [24.3 min]

 

Boston Celtics 

Kendrick Perkins - PER (13.90), Offensive Rating (103), Defensive Rating (96) [28.8 min]

Leon Powe - PER (16.73), Offensive Rating (113), Defensive Rating (98) [15.7 min]

 

I purposely left out the best big men, in this case Orlando's Dwight Howard, Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Boston's Kevin Garnett, to see how each team's main "role-playing" big men stacked up against each other. 

 

As you can see, Orlando's crop of bigs actually compare favorably against Cleveland and Boston. Statistically, at least. In the case of Gortat, he has the best PER of the bunch but with such limited minutes, we can't be certain if he is able to maintain such a high output if granted more playing time. All we know for sure is that he has been highly productive with his minutes. If Gortat were to earn more playing time, it's likely he would take some hits statistically but he probably would still be a productive player. 

 

Since it's been shown that Orlando's bigs are "good enough", they could probably help the team if they were granted more playing time. That way, the Magic can emulate the top teams and play some "big ball" of its own, as Berri suggests earlier in this post. 

 

With all that said.

 

Would the Magic ultimately benefit from adding another big man like Joe Smith?

 

Here are his peripherals:

 

Joe Smith - PER (13.82), Offensive Rating (111), Defensive Rating (109) [20.3 min]

 

The one statistic that immediately jumps out is Smith's below-average Defensive Rating (league average this year is 106.6). One may think that this is due to the fact that Oklahoma City plays bad defense, thus affecting the stats of each of the team's players a bit. This specific point has certainly had a small effect on Smith, but for his career, his Defensive Rating stands at 106.  How about last year? When Smith benefitted from playing on a good defensive squad in Cleveland? It made no difference, Smith's Defensive Rating was 107 (league average last year was 107.5). 

 

Seeing how well the Magic have performed defensively this year, it probably would not be wise for the team to trade for Joe Smith. Sure, he may help Orlando a bit offensively, but he would hurt the team defensively, thus nullifying his impact. Also, since its been shown that the Magic's current crop of big men are adequate, Smith doesn't appear to be needed. 

 

So to answer the question, is Joe Smith the answer?

 

No.