Warriors fans aren’t going to be thrilled with one of the statistical analysis site FiveThirtyEight’s newly-released NBA player projections.
The site’s CARMELO system not only categorized Klay Thompson as an “average starter,” but also placed a value on him that is grossly under the $190 million five-year max contract he just signed with Golden State.
CARMELO says Thompson is worth only $64.7 million over five years. By comparison, Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio — also an “average starter” — is valued at $74.2 million/5 years. Ricky Rubio is $10 million more valuable than Klay Thompson?!
The CARMELO model projects a player’s impact by estimating the number wins his team could expect with him playing instead of a low-level replacement player (think call-up from the G League.)
FiveThirtyEight further explains:
“CARMELO projections forecast a player’s future by looking to the past, finding the most similar historical comparables and using their careers as a template for how a current player might fare over the rest of his playing days. After running a player through the similarity algorithm, CARMELO spits out offensive and defensive ratings for his next handful of seasons, which represent his expected influence on team efficiency (per 100 possessions) while he’s on the court.”
Thompson is one of the NBA’s all-time greatest three-point shooters, already ranked on most top-10 career lists. Last October, he scored 60 points in 29 minutes. No one else in NBA history has tallied 50 points in under 30 minutes. Thompson has done it twice.
In addition to his shooting prowess, the Warriors guard is widely regarded to be one of the best defenders in the league. CARMELO doesn’t agree, putting his defensive plus-minus at -0.8 over the last three seasons. Not terrible, but certainly not elite.
Thompson is 29 and just had a major knee injury that will keep him off the hardwood for much of next season. Historically, most players past the age of 30 see their performance steadily decline.
On the other hand, Thompson perfectly complements Golden States’s motion offense. Plus, he’s is a fan favorite who will help fill the new Chase Center arena.
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Even if the algorithmic projection is eventually proven correct and Thompson’s performance doesn’t match the expectations of his contract, some other Warriors free-agency deals could pay big dividends down the road. These three especially hold promise, according to CARMELO forecasts:
D’Angelo Russell, 23, the talented guard that the Warriors picked up via the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade deal with Brooklyn, is categorized as “future All-Star” with a five-year market value of $193.5 million. (The Warriors deal will pay him $117 million over four years.)
Willie Cauley-Stein, 26, the 7-foot-1 center the Warriors obtained from Sacramento reportedly for slightly more than the league minimum, falls in the “average starter” category and is valued at $68.9 million over five years. Over the last three years, Cauley-Stein has put up solid numbers in rebounding and defense.
Kevon Looney, 23, the power forward/center who played so brilliantly for the Warriors in the playoffs, may be Golden State’s smartest free agent signing of all. He’s projected as a “future All-Star” with a five-year market value of $156 million. The Warriors signed him for three years at just $15 million. (Note: The third year is the player option, which allows him to test free agency if he thinks he’s not being paid what he’s worth.).
Read Mike Moffitt’s latest stories and send him news tips at [email protected].
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