Do-It-Yourself: Free-agent bargain shopping

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
8:44
PM ET
By Will Cohen, ESPN Stats & Info
ESPN.com
The NBA offseason is finishing with a sprint as the schedule is released Tuesday night. Soon teams will be scrambling to fill out rosters with free-agent deals. Before your teams do that, you can go shopping yourself with our interactive graphic below.

Here are some takeaways that we saw:

Tyson Chandler is the prize
Tyson Chandler
Chandler

Believe it or not, Chandler was tied for fifth in the league in Win Shares per 48 minutes with Dwyane Wade. That is a rate stat so it can be a bit misleading but Chandler's 9.4 total Win Shares ranked 23rd in the league, ahead of more notable big men like Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire. Chandler certainly won’t garner that superstar-level money which makes him a bargain for any team.

Chandler produces an elite rebounding rate – his 19.7% of total rebounds grabbed ranked seventh amongst players with at least 50 games played. Throw in the fact that that he shot 65.4 percent from the floor and you have a tremendously productive player at a scarce position.

Josh McRoberts could have a bright future
Remember when McRoberts was the 2005 McDonald’s All-America Player of the Year? He’s finally seems to be living up to some of that potential.

McRoberts quietly put together a very solid 2010-11 season while playing a career high 22 minutes per game and is the youngest unrestricted free agent available on the market at 24 years old. But it's his per-36 numbers that show he can do a little bit of everything: 12 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG.

Perhaps the most important stat is that McRoberts dropped his fouls-per-36 from 5.2 in his age 21 and 22 seasons to 3.7 last year. At 0.147 Win Shares per 48, McRoberts is the second most valuable available forward who played at least 20 MPG last year.

Don’t overpay Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford
Crawford

Entering this free-agent period, the consensus seems to be that Crawford is the most valuable available guard. Unfortunately the numbers paint a less flattering picture.

Despite seeing 30 minutes per game last year off the bench, Crawford actually produced at a below league average rate. Known for his offense, Crawford’s ORtg of 105 was only 1.5 better than the league average. His DRtg of 111 (meaning he allowed 3.5 points more per 100 possessions than the average defender) couldn't overcome that slightly above-average offense. These numbers added up to a 14.2 PER, the lowest of his career since his age-20 rookie season. He now enters his age 31 season.

In a time when owners want to limit player salaries, the first test will be avoid overpaying for an underperformer such as Crawford.

Most valuable forward … Steve Novak?
Novak led all free-agent forwards last season with .195 Win Shares per 48 minutes. Instant caveat: he did this in only 7.2 minutes per game so there’s an obvious sample-size issue.

But even in that limited time, how did he manage to perform at such a high rate?

The key was his off-the-charts shooting. Novak shot 52 percent from the field last season and a whopping 56 percent from three-point range. He only played in 30 games so it’s not fair to expect that kind of production in the future, but his sharpshooting from outside isn’t an aberration. He’s averaged 42 percent from three-point range for his career. It's not likely that Novak can be more than a role player because he can’t do the dirty work expected of a 6-10 forward, but he can bring valuable efficient outside spot-up shooting with a low price tag.

Thanks to Basketball-Reference.com and Tableau.

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