Detroit Refuses Rondo?

Posted on June 29, 2009 by


This past week we have seen Cleveland acquire Shaq and Orlando acquire Vince Carter.  We have heard that Amare Stoudemire might be going to Golden State and Yao Ming might be done for awhile (if not forever).  And on top of all this we had the NBA draft.

All of this news gives me plenty of topics to discuss.  But despite this abundance I want to choose an item off the menu.  About a week ago, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Celtics were shopping Rajon Rondo.  And the potential trading partner was the Detroit Pistons.  Here was the specific proposal:

The Celtics send Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to the Detroit Pistons for Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, and Rodney Stuckey. 

Let’s look at this proposal in term of each player’s Wins Produced and WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] from last season:

Rajon Rondo: 18.3 Wins Produced, 0.332 WP48

Ray Allen: 9.8 Wins Produced, 0.163 WP48

Tayshaun Prince: 7.3 Wins Produced, 0.114 WP48

Rodney Stuckey: 4.0 Wins Produced, 0.077 WP48

Richard Hamilton: 1.9 Wins Produced, 0.040 WP48

So the Celtics were offering two players who produced 28.1 wins for three players who combined for 13. 2 Wins Produced. Of course Ray Allen – who turns 34 in July – is ancient by NBA standards.  But Stuckey is only two months younger than Rondo. So Rondo is not only the most productive player in this proposed trade, he is nearly the youngest. 

Despite what we can see about productivity and age, though, it was the Pistons – according to Wojnarowski – who rejected this proposal.  Here is what Wojnarowski said a week ago:

For the Pistons, this deal makes little sense, unless they wanted to let Allen’s expiring deal gain even more salary cap space for the free-agent class of 2010. The idea of trading his three best returners for an expiring contract and one good young player wasn’t worth considering for Dumars, sources said.

So Wojnarowski argues – and apparently the Pistons agree – that this deal makes little sense for Detroit. In fact, it wasn’t worth considering. Let’s try and understand this reasoning by focusing on points scored per 48 minutes

Rajon Rondo: 17.3

Ray Allen: 23.9

Tayshaun Prince: 18.3

Rodney Stuckey: 20.2

Richard Hamilton: 25.8

When we focus on scoring, the worst player in this transaction is Rondo. Given this lack of scoring, it’s hard for some to see Rondo as anything more than just a “good” player who might have some maturity issues.  In fact, such was the recent argument of Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe.  Massarotti argued that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are the key players on the Celtics and Boston could win another title without Rondo. 

To be fair to Massarotti, if the Celtics find someone as productive as Rondo, what he says is true.  But here is the list of point guards who produced more wins than Rondo last year:

Chris Paul: 29.4 Wins Produced, 0.471 WP48

Jason Kidd: 21.0 Wins Produced, 0.349 WP48

Yes, that’s the list.  And Kidd is now 68 years old.  After Rondo we see the following five names on the Wins Produced ranking of point guards in 2008-09:

Jose Calderon: 12. 4 Wins Produced, 0.255 WP48

Andre Miller: 12.2 Wins Produced, 0.197 WP48

Steve Nash: 12.0 Wins Produced, 0.232 WP48

Deron Williams: 11.9 Win Produced, 0.228 WP48

Chauncey Billups: 11.2 Wins Produced, 0.192 WP48

As one can see, after Rondo there is quite a drop-off.  And despite this drop-off, the Celtics appear to be casually throwing his name out there in the trade market.

Of course, players are not evaluated in terms of Wins Produced in the NBA.  When we look at player evaluations (from the draft, voting for the All-Rookie team, free agent market, and assignment of minutes played), scoring dominates the story.  And Rondo is not a scorer. 

Unfortunately for Boston fans (but apparently not fortunately for fans of Detroit), the over-valuation of scoring by talent evaluators in the NBA might end up costing the Celtics their most productive player from last season.  And despite the arguments of Massaroti, if Rondo is allowed to depart Boston can probably look forward to a longer wait for their next NBA title.

– DJ

The WoW Journal Comments Policy

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.