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Just The Sports: When Trades Don't Really Matter

Just The Sports

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

When Trades Don't Really Matter

Making positive impact blockbuster trades is an exact science. For the person doing the trading, he must identify the players already with his team who no longer fit into the blueprint for the team's success, identify players on another team who would improve his team, and then convince a rival general manager to give up the players he wants while taking players he no longer cares to keep. If everything works out perfectly, then he has earned his paycheck for the year and his team should improve.

For the Indiana Pacers and the Golden State Warriors, their blockbuster trade where the Pacers added Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Keith McLeod, and Ike Diogu while providing the Warriors with Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Sarunas Jasikevicius, and Josh Powell did not provide the immediate positive impact either team probably hoped it would, despite the fact the Warriors did manage to sneak into the playoffs.

Before the players traded took up residence with their new teams, the Warriors played forty games and came out with a 19-21 record. During those forty games, the Warriors scored 107.4 points per 100 possessions and allowed 109.1 points per 100 possessions, which is very much in line with a record that hovers around .500. After the trade, in the next forty-two games, the Warriors went 23-19, but their offensive and defensive efficiencies barely changed. Instead of scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions, they ramped it up to 107.6 points per 100 possessions; defensively, they lowered the points they allowed per 100 possessions from 109.1 to 107.1. While it was an improvement, it was not enough of one to be statistically significant.

The Pacers experienced a similar ho-hum post-trade level of play. Like the Warriors, the Pacers were also mired around the .500 level before the trade truly took effect by going 20-19 in thirty-nine games. Of course, the trade did not exactly take the Pacers to the next level in the 2006-07 season since they only went 15-28 in the following forty-three games. Offensively, there was little change after the player switch. Before the trade, the Pacers scored 103.4 points per 100 possessions and afterwards, they scored 103.1 points per 100 possessions. Defensively is where the revamped Pacers roster were unable to equal their pre-trade brethren. After allowing 105.3 points per 100 possession before January 20, they allowed 107.6 points per 100 possessions including and after that date. Still, though, it was not a statistically significant decline and I hypothesize that the decline may be a result of the quality of opponent they played in those last forty-three games. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the Western Conference was superior to the Eastern Conference this season and the Pacers faced off against fourteen Western Conference opponents in their first thirty-nine games and saw the number increase to seventeen Western Conference opponents in their next forty-three games. In actuality, it seemed the Pacers did well to avoid a greater drop-off.

Next season, if all of the important players on these two teams are still playing significant minutes together, then there should be an improvement in their level of efficiency over what they showed last season.



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