Mavs Piece-By-Piece: Kaman Vs. Haywood

Mavs Piece-By-Piece: Kaman Vs. Haywood

Part of the Mavs' Plan B is to improve on last year's team. Piece-by-piece, they might just be doing so. What Are The Mavs Building? How does Collison compare to Kidd? How does Brand compare to Odom? And in this Part 1 of the series, how does this year's center Kaman compare to his counterpart from last year's team, Haywood? We use Synergy and The Eye Test to evaluate:



The silver lining of any sports crisis -- if that's how we wish to term DeronQuest -- is that you always get a second chance.

The Mavericks seized such a chance and in our opinion capitalized in fine Plan B form, rescuing their offseason from complete disaster with a flurry of clever moves following The Week That Wasn't.

First, it's long been suspected that Brendan Haywood would be amnestied, as his production has at best leveled off but more realistically declined in his two and a half years with the team. Such a move created a need for a starting-caliber center, and Chris Kaman, whom the Mavs have been after for years, was finally available within their price range.

Second, with the departures of Jasons Kidd and Terry, coupled with the failure to acquire Williams, Dallas had gaping holes in the backcourt. Enter one of the standby's of the Dallas Mavericks' front office of the past decade: turning one asset into multiple usable pieces. The trade of Ian Mahinmi for Dahntay Jones and Darren Collison is classic Creative Opportunism by Nelson and Cuban – turning one piece they didn't really need into two that they desperately did while upgrading the overall talent pool in the process.

Lets look at the newcomers and how each can help the team this season. For readability, I will break this up into a four-part series (or more depending on ensuing front-office's moves) comparing incoming players to their recently departed counterparts.
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In Part 1, it's a comparison of Chris Kaman and Brendan Haywood.

Basic Stats

What do you do when you cannot sign the second superstar that you've chased for a decade to pair with your own? Sign his buddy to keep the "Trade Dirk" wolves in the hills for a bit. It definitely doesn't hurt when that buddy is a former All-Star.

Beyond Kaman and Dirk's off-court chemistry, and the now common wisdom that Dirk needs an athletic, defensive-minded center to maximize his own talents, there are some signs that a Kaman/Nowitzki frontcourt could be promising this season.

His raw numbers are already better than Haywood's: 13.1 pts, 7.7 rebs, 2.1 assts, and 1.6 blocks, compared to Big Wood's 5.2 pts/6.0 rebs/0.4 asssts/1.0 blocks. Now to be fair, Kaman's situation was a bit different than that in Dallas last season. So with that in mind, and to mitigate the effects of LockOut Ball on our data, lets look deeper at some advanced numbers.

Advanced Numbers

The first number that jumps out is Kaman's 23.5 defensive rebound percentage (a measure of how many defensive boards a player grabs while on the court). By comparison, Haywood's was 18.0%, approximately the same level as Shawn Marion (18.6%). So there is reason to expect that Dallas will be an improved defensive rebounding team next season.
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However, the offensive glass will not be so clean. Haywood's offensive rebounding percentage surpassed Kaman's at 13.7% to 7.9%. Kaman's ability to play further from the basket than Haywood probably has a lot to do with this figure, but when paired with Dirk's paltry 2.9% ORB rate, its safe to assume that Dallas will likely not get many second-chances next year.

Defense

On defense, though Kaman isn't known as a defender, his advanced stats outshine Haywood in many areas. One, he surrenders only 0.81 points per possession to opponents compared to Haywood's 0.86 ppp (an improvement from 240th in the league to 128th). Further, Kaman fouls at about half the rate of Haywood, 3.2% of the time vs 7.4% for ‘Wood.

Kaman is a superior defender in isolation against his man, surrendering 0.71 points per possession and 33.3% shooting to Haywood's 0.81 ppp and 40.5% shooting. In post-up situations, Haywood is clearly superior by virtue of his larger frame. Indeed, Big Wood only surrenders 0.79 points per possession and 39.7% shooting in such situations. On the other hand, Kaman gives up 0.9 ppp and 47.7% shooting. It is important to note, however that Haywood fouls his man 10% of the time in such sets while Kaman rarely does, at only a 3.8% clip.

Defending the pick-and-roll, Kaman again is superior. Almost always, centers are charged with defending the ‘roll man' as a little guy handles the ball. In those sets, Kaman surrenders only 0.94 ppp, 65th best in the NBA, giving up about 47% shooting but fouling only 3% of the time. Meanwhile, Haywood, also an adept P&R defender, surrenders 1.0 ppp, 80th best in the league, giving up 50% shooting but fouling nearly twice as much as Kaman.

In spot-up situations, Kaman is nearly elite, at least statistically. He surrenders only 0.73 ppp and 31% shooting, 25th best in the NBA. Haywood, meanwhile, surrenders 0.91 ppp, 147th in the NBA while opponents shot 41.5% against him.

Taken together, these numbers suggest that Kaman will grab more defensive boards than Haywood, though fewer on offense. Also, while being a bit worse defender on post-ups, Kaman will otherwise help the Dallas defense in many areas with his athleticism.

Offense

On offense, the picture that advanced stats give us become cloudier, mostly due to difference in situation. Indeed, Kaman has a much higher usage rate compared to Haywood by virtue of being a much higher offensive priority on his team than Big Wood was last year.
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With that in mind, lets dive in. Kaman derives much of his offense from post-ups (35% of the time), pick and rolls (17%), cutters (13%) and spot-ups (11%). By comparison, Big Wood's offensive game was built primarily on cutters (27%) and picking up offensive rebounds (22.4%) with P&R's and post-ups each contributing about half as much (13% each).

Breaking down numbers by sets does not offer much to compare, as both players are shockingly similar. Overall, Haywood shoots about four percentage points better than Kaman, 49% to 44.8%. Much of that has to do with the types of games each brings to the table, as described above. Kaman draws shooting fouls on offense at about half the rate as Haywood, much of which I attribute to the Hack-a-Wood strategy and the bullish nature of Haywood's close-in offensive game. However, it was Kaman who drew more and-1's (9 to 8) than Haywood. Haywood turns it over a bit less, 14% of the time compared to 16.5%, however, as mentioned, Kaman had the ball in his hand twice as often as Haywood.

In summary, expect more skill from the offense at center this season with more points and shots coming from Kaman than we've seen from Haywood. However, given that skill on offense, expect a few less offensive rebounds and second-chance points.

Haywood's good work in combination with TY in the title season and even last year, when Dallas' overall defensive numbers were solid, sometimes gets buried by his too-often lethargic play. But right down to some of the littliest things, Dallas has a reason to feel positive about this switchout. Example?

Without Haywood around, the Hack-a-Wood strategy no longer is in play as Kaman shot nearly 79% on FT's last season.



In Part 2, we'll break down Jason Kidd vs. Darren Collison by the Syngergy numbers and by the DB.com Eye Test. Also coming up: Dahntay Jones vs. Terry and Brand vs Odom.

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