best counter

Your Ad Here
Just The Sports: Ben Wallace Gets Overpaid

Just The Sports

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ben Wallace Gets Overpaid

Ben Wallace, welcome to the Overpaid Athletes Club. Do not confuse my sentiments here, though. I in no way begrudge Ben Wallace for the contract he signed with the Chicago Bulls worth $60 million dollars over four years. Chicago Bulls fans should not get overly exciting about the signing, but I actually think athletes should steal as much money as they can from the foolish general managers and owners who give them their contracts.

Still, his reaction to the Detroit Pistons' contract offer was a bit much, calling it "disappointing" and "not what I expected." Wallace perhaps should have taken what the Pistons were willing to pay him as a compliment since if he had signed his name on the dotted line, he would have been made the highest paid Piston on a team where he is not even the best Piston. That award goes to Chauncey Billups, who has had a better player win-loss percentage than Wallace over the past three years.

Actually, looking at Ben Wallace's career statistics, it's hard for me to project what kind of output he will give a team in the future, which would certainly scare me off if I were a GM. Of course, I am not a GM (if I were, I would not have signed Ben Wallace), but allow me to wear the hat of one and let you in on what I looked at concerning Ben Wallace and why I did not necessarily come away impressed.

Let's start with Ben's 2001-02 season, which was inarguably his best. During this season, he posted the best player win-loss percentage of his career of .960%. Player win-loss records were devised by Dean Oliver and narrows down how many games a particular player directly influences and either wins for his team or loses.

Since that season, his player win-loss percentage has decreased except for last year when it "mysteriously" increased again. I say mysteriously because I am always skeptical of a player who has a large jump in any stat during his contract year and that is what Ben Wallace did, with his win-loss percentage jumping up .095 points.

During that same time, his offensive rating decreased from 117 to 108 to 98 (below the league average) and then went back up to 105 and 112. Part of the decrease (108 to 98) can be attributed to Wallace using more possessions on offense for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, but he used about the same number of possessions when his offensive rating increased from 98 to 105 so maybe he got used to having more possessions and increased his offensive efficiency accordingly. When his usage rate returned to a more palatable rate during 2005-06, his offensive rating rose to 112, impressive, but he still does not contribute much on the offensive side as his 7.3 ppg attests.

However, it is his defense, what he is best known for, which has suffered recently. For the first time in Wallace's career in 2004-05, his defensive rating increased going from 87 to 94 and then from 94 to 95. Having a defensive rating of 94 still leaves Wallace comfortably below the league average of 106, but it should cause a red flag for any team that hopes Wallace will be the stopper of old.

For a better look at how Wallace has been slipping during the last few seasons, I took the difference between his offensive rating and his defensive rating, starting again with 2001-02. Wallace went from +24 that season to +18 to +11 to +11 to +17. Now, I am still not sure whether to count out the two +11 seasons because he used more possessions than what was good for the team and himself or if I should discount the last season because it was a contract year.

Because I was not satisfied with looking at just his offensive and defensive ratings because no matter how good of a statistic they are, they are still not good enough, in a vacuum, to project what a player will do, I also looked at Wallace's net PER to see how much net overall contribution he gave the Pistons over the opposing centers he faced. PER is a statistic developed by John Hollinger and attempts to give a per minute rating of a player's performance.

For this I started with 2003-04 (the first season I could find his net PER) and ended with his 2005-06 season, looking only at his net PER while he played the center position. The results certainly do not paint a pretty picture about how much net production Ben Wallace has been giving his team. Over the last three seasons, Wallace's net PER at the center position has gone from +3.2 to +2.9 to +1.4 so his overall contribution has decreased each year. His net PER drop-off was most glaring during the playoffs when he had a net PER of -9.8, being grossly outplayed by the other centers he faced while playing 74% of the team's center minutes.

Overall, after looking at all of these statistics, there is nothing I can point to with confidence to tell me Wallace will continue to maintain that +17 rating he put up last season or rebound from his reduction in net PER and nothing which would justify such an exorbitant contract.

If you are completely confused after reading this, then welcome to the party because I confused myself while writing it. There is one thing I can say with certainty, though. The confusion about what Wallace will give me on the court would far outweigh any leadership qualities he might bring to my team (leadership qualities that did not appear during the playoffs when he was criticizing Flip Saunders and questioning Saunders' coaching acumen while being outplayed by other centers).

But I wouldn't have traded for Stromile Swift, I mean Tyrus Thomas, either, so John Paxson and I would probably never agree on Ben Wallace.


Post a Comment

<< Home