FanPost

Pareto Principle, Free Agency and the New Orleans Hornets

The idea of building a championship has always been centered around the idea of getting a "Big 3". Whether its from the draft, from FA or some combination of both, the idea is that in order to truly compete for a title, you need to get yourself 3 very high impact players that you can depend on game in and game out. Whether its an offensive juggernaut (Harden, Nowitzki, Pierce) or a defensive stalwart (Tyson Chandler, Ben Wallace, Rodman) or in the truest and purest form of the word, a true superstar that's a GREAT combination of both offense and defense (Lebron, Paul, KG, Duncan). It is the tried and tested way of building a championship team.

Lebron-Wade-Bosh, Durant-Russ-Harden, Dirk-TC-Kidd, KG-Rondo-Pierce, Gasol-Odom-Bryant, Duncan-Ginobili-Parker.. Do any of those group of names ring a bell?

They are a list of the supposed "Big 3" of the NBA Finalists of the past 4 years. And even if we extend it to include more years, the list expands even wider - Billups-Wallace-Hamilton, Howard-Nelson-Turk, Jordan-Pip-Rod, Stockton-Malone-Hornacek, Oneal-Hardaway-Grant, Jordan-Pip-Grant, Bird-Parish-Mchale, Worthy-Kareem-Magic and the list goes on and on and on.

But why is it so? Why is it that 3 high impact players pushes you closest to contenders? Why the number 3? Why can't it be 4? Why not 5?

Is anybody familiar with the Pareto Principle? Well it is an idea named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and is more commonly known as the 80-20 rule. It's widely believed that 80% of the effects come from roughly 20% of the causes. What does this mean? Well according to Pareto, 80% of the land in Italy is owned by 20% of the population. In other cases, like in business, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients or in software development Microsoft noted that in repairing 20% of the most reported bugs, 80% of the errors and crashes are eliminated. The number doesn't have to be exactly 80-20.

If we put this in the NBA perspective, the average NBA team typically employs anywhere between 13-15 players. 20% of that is around 3. Now, take note that the number's don't exactly have to be exactly 3. Does it necessarily mean that 80% of a team's win only comes from 3 players? Let us see (numbers are total WP of top 3, teams total WP and ratio of top 3 WP to total WP)

Numbers come from nerdnumbers.com

MIA 29.24 | 46.02 | 63.5%

OKC 30.56 | 45.89 | 66.6%

BOS 20.7 | 38.30 | 54.1%

LAL 23.55 | 35.73 | 65.9%

LAC 31.46 | 38.55 | 81.6%

....

So if you continue the trend, it comes out at anywhere between 60~77%. Is the number close? Not really. The number of teams who's top 3 WP add up to 63%. But take note that this is a shortened season AND that if you look at the NBA Champions from 1978 to 2011 (before this lockout shortened season), the top 3 WP add up to around ~73% of the team's wins..

So there is some truth in the idea that a Big 3 can carry you a long way in the league.

Free Agency

Thus it is important that whenever you give out a contract close to the max, then you are essentially extending a contract that's SUPPOSED to be an impact player. Having 3 players under said contracts means you are essential tying up anywhere between 40~60+ million of your room under the luxury tax. (60+ for those teams that have max players with over 7-10+ years of NBA experience). So, the question then becomes, is a player worthy of said contracts? Here are a few names to think about..

1.) Eric Gordon (RFA)

To me, when healthy, he is worthy of a max contract. That said, there is the underlying assumption - "WHEN HEALTHY". That's a pretty huge assumption for a guy who's missed almost 34% of his games in his first 4 years in the league. That's a scary number. The good thing? Those injuries aren't related (as I've constantly harped about) - wrist, shoulder, ankles, knees - its only his wrist ankle that was aggravated. Otherwise, all of his injuries have been in independent parts of his body. The bad thing? Those injuries are ALL OVER the body. I think more than anything, Gordon needs to adapt. IMO, He gets all these injuries because he attacks the basket relentlessly and without abandon. So the question is

When healthy, is he worth a max contract for you? And without any certainty on his health, is the risk/reward worth a max for you? If not, what is the max you offer EJ?

2.) Javale McGee (RFA)

DEN has Gallo, Afflalo, Harrington, Chandler on the books for a large sum of money with Ty Lawson and McGee coming. If a team we're to offer a number north of 10 million, would DEN have the willingness to match Considering they would have approximately 55+ million committed to only 6 players (assuming Lawson gets a max/near max contract) and the fact that 3 of these players play with almost the same skill set? (Gallo,Chandler,Harrington).

McGee has always been a good rebounder, shot blocker, and defender in general (based of the MySynergySports numbers @hornets247 seems to indicate). Add to that is his incredible combination of agility, leaping ability and length that rivals that of Drummond, the question becomes, is he worth the max/near max? and if not, what is you're max offer for him?

IMO, I think McGee is worth a shot (for a contract similar to DeAndre Jordan ~ 43/4) and I'll explain later.

3.) Nicolas Batum (RFA)

POR is in an interesting spot because they have the chance to either "retool" or "rebuild quickly" and if all the rumors are right, they might be looking to retool more than anything else. With the way they offered Hibbert a max contract, with Nicolas Batum still waiting (MIN apparently has a 45 - 50/4 mil contract which is near max), I think they'd be in quite a pickle because if they match what Batum is getting, then POR has around 30 million committed to 3 players (Batum, LMA and Matthews). So there's that. Same question -- is he worth it, if not, what's your max offer?

Other names with similar demands - Dragic (demands a 10 mil contract), Lopez (a skilled but oft injured C. will command 10+ mil and he's a Net (LOL)), Hibbert (skilled big), Ryan Anderson and Ilyasova (will both command SOMETHING from the market. Prolly around 8~9 mil starting) and Asik (a defensive behemoth and offensive liability). All of them are restricted free agents except for Ilyasova.

What does this all mean for the New Orleans Hornets

Thanks to Rohan's most recent post here, we can only offer one player - and only one player - with a sizeable contract. So in light of that, who among these FAs are most worthy of that contract?

It's important to note that Davis and Rivers are under a rookie contract for AT LEAST 2 years and quite possibly 4, and all our other players are either on rookie contracts for 2 more years (Aminu, Henry, Vasquez) or are on cheap contracts (Ayon and Smith) so we don't have a huge contract to worry about for at least 2 years, and possibly 4 (if we exchange those same guys with rookies in the upcoming years who play a role similar to theirs).

Personally, had HOU not offered a contract to Asik (which he accepted), I would have LOVED to have Asik to come over and play for us. He would form a GREAT pairing with Davis upfront on a contract that's good by me.

However, now that Asik looks HOU bound (although anything can still happen), the next FA on my eye is McGee and I'd be willing to throw all our cap space at that guy (with a signing bonus at hand) to pair him with Davis. Why? Because organization matters. McGee was a headcase and generally a headache to the team when he was in Washington. But you couldn't deny the fact that he was efficient, he was a great rebounder, and he was a great defender. Moving into an organization with structure such as Denver helped tremendously to McGee's game. Just go watch that first round they had against LA and tell me McGee wasn't a big part of how they were able to push LA to 7 games. With how relatively cheap our roster is right now, plus how everybody (including me) is raving about how good and humble and professional Monty is as a coach, I think Monty with McGee/Davis/Ayon as toys on the frontcourt will spell a possible top 5 defensive team for us. This means that we only need to be right around average to be a good enough team to compete for the playoffs. By the time McGee's contract expires, hopefully, Davis and Rivers are entering their primes as young studs, we can just let McGee go, and focus on Gordon/Davis/Rivers as our core. Those 3 will eat up AT MOST around 40 million of our cap space - and I hope they'll to live up to the Pareto Principle's 80-20 rule.

So, what's your take?

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