Like I mentioned Friday, much of this lockout is going to be spent analyzing every piece on the Magic's roster and trying to figure out exactly where they fit into the team's future. What is most important considering the Magic's current financial situation is getting the most value out of the players on the roster. No doubt under any rules in the new collective bargaining agreement, it is going to be difficult for Orlando to make any major moves.
That is why it becomes even more imperative for the Magic to get the most out of the players on its roster, especially when taking salary into account.
We look back to the team's current roster because it is nearly impossible to predict the future. Barring any aggressive moves or an outright pilfering of some team (it is times like these you wished David Kahn had a player you could actually use that was not named Kevin Love), the Magic are likely to head into next season with very much the same roster.
Everyone from Zach Lowe of The Point Forward to the crew at Eye On Basketball to even ESPN now are endeavoring to rank all the top players in the league. it does not take a genius to start perusing some of these lists and realize the Magic, aside from Dwight Howard, are a little short on top-end talent. Take Lowe's list, for example. He placed Dwight Howard as the No. 2 overall player in the league. The next Magic player on the list is Jason Richardson at number 64, followed by Jameer Nelson at 86.
Yeah, that does not bode well. Although it should be noted that neither Vince Carter nor Rashard Lewis made Lowe's list. Although Marcin Gortat came in at No. 70. Go figure, maybe Orlando actually won those deals from a talent perspective.
As Orlando evaluates its roster with all this down time, figuring out a player's output and production relative to how much he is getting paid is critcially important as the team moves forward and figures out who is worth keeping and who it should try to shop. Gilbert Arenas has already stated he is hoping to be worth his contract, for sure he is a long way from that.
Jason Fleming of HoopsWorld is beginning to take a look at player production and efficiency relative to salary. He started with the starting point guards in the league -- and he will continue with the other positions and I will follow with a Magic-specific analysis, like the one I am about to do.
By dividing a player's 2010-11 salary by his PER, Fleming found that Miami's Mario Chalmers was the most cost-efficient point guard. It should be noted, as Fleming does, that this tends to favor highly productive, reasonably salaried players over superstars. For example, Chris Paul finished 26th, Derrick Rose was 10th (but he is still on his rookie contract) and Deron Williams was 30th.
Either way, when you think of Jameer Nelson, you hope he is in the upper half of this ranking because he is close to being a superstar on a semi-reasonable contract. Instead, Fleming found Nelson finished 20th among the 32 starting point guards he included in his list.
Nelson had a solid season compared to the rest of his career. He averaged 13.1 points per game and dished out a career-high 6.0 assists per game. The only area he was below his career numbers were in PER (15.4 in 2011) and field goal percentage (44.6 percent). His $503,226/PER rating is not stellar -- nearly $100,000 worse than the starters' average.
Consider that in Nelson's stellar 2009 season, his $7.7 million salary with his 20.6 PER would have given him a cost-efficiency value of $373,786/PER. That would have moved him up to 14th compared to 2011's point guards. These numbers prove more than anything that it is difficult to get value for this kind of a player.
It seems beating the league average is more the goal than being at the top of the list. Chalmers, after all, is still on his rookie contract, as are everyone else in the top 10.
Nelson had a down year last year as far as overall efficiency goes. He is probably producing at about where he should be for his salary.
Especially when you start taking a look at the backups behind him.
Chris Duhon and Gilbert Arenas were major disappointments this year. Duhon took up half of the team's mid-level exception with a four-year deal and never found his fit in the offense. He seemed too willing to pass and too unwilling to shoot, never really finding his stroke. And Arenas, well, he was still hurting and never seemed in shape. Arenas is hungry for his chance and, by all accounts, has been working hard in between tweets.
Starting with Arenas, he posted a paltry 8.6 PER while playing with Orlando and a 10.8 PER for the entire season. It was by far Arenas' worst overall season in his career. When you add in his $17.7 million salary and you get a pretty horrendous ratio of $1,641,731/PER. Yeah, Orlando did not get its money's worth for Arenas.
During his best season (by PER) in his career in 2007, he posted a $462,367/PER ratio. I doubt Arenas will get back to that level again, especially with how much he is being paid not. But to get him down to six figures closer to, say $750,000, would lead to Orlando getting more value.
Chris Duhon was better, but not by much. Duhon posted a insanely poor 5.6 PER this year, posting career-lows across the board as his playing time dwindled. Duhon made $3.5 million last year and has three more years left on his deal. He is one of the players Orlando is looking to get something out of. His ratio comes out to $625,000/PER.
That does not seem so bad. It is better than seven starting point guards on Fleming's list. However, all but one of those, Atlanta's Kirk Hinrich, make more than $10 million. Like I said earlier, those who make a little bit more money, obviously are going to cost more for their production.
With such a low PER, you want to be getting more value out of Duhon. He has to be better next year if he wants a spot in the rotation. Orlando needs that too if it hopes to get out of his contract to bring in new pieces.
Overall, Orlando needs more from its point guards. Jameer Nelson can do a little bit more, but the real problem is Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon are not producing up to their salaries. Seeing as none of the three appear very tradeable, Orlando needs them to be better for the amount the team is paying them.
Photos via DayLife.com.