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Trading for a Championship

Also seen at ilevy.wordpress.com

BY IAN LEVY

Listening to Talking about Practice, Episode 11 this morning, I heard Jared Wade and Rob Mahoney discussing some of the deadline trades from this past NBA season. The context of the discussion was how dissappointing the additions of Antawn Jamison for the Cavs, and Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood for the Mavs, were from a short-term playoff success perspective. One of them wondered aloud if anyone had ever looked at how often the mid-season acquistion of that “big, missing piece” has worked out. I looked around the interwebs this morning, and not finding anything on the topic, decided to look at it myself.

The table below shows every NBA champion since 1987. I went with 1987 because, as near as I can tell, that is the first season that the NBA had a trade deadline. For each team I looked at players that were acquired by trade, during the season, who played at least 15 minutes per game for their new team over the rest of the season. For each player I included their Minutes per Game, PER, and Win Shares for their new team, broken down by regular season and playoffs.

Team Year Players Acquired through Trade MPG/R PER/R WS/R MPG/P PER/P WS/P
Los Angeles Lakers 1987 MyChal Thompson 20.6 12.6 1.0 22.3 11.1 0.7
Los Angeles Lakers 1988 None - - - - - -
Detroit Pistons 1989 Mark Aguirre 29.7 15.1 2.8 27.2 15.2 1.3
Detroit Pistons 1990 None - - - - - -
Chicago Bulls 1991 None - - - - - -
Chicago Bulls 1992 None - - - - - -
Chicago Bulls 1993 None - - - - - -
Houston Rockets 1994 None - - - - - -
Houston Rockets 1995 Clyde Drexler 37.1 22.1 5.2 38.6 21.1 3.0
Chicago Bulls 1996 None - - - - - -
Chicago Bulls 1997 None - - - - - -
Chicago Bulls 1998 None - - - - - -
San Antonio Spurs 1999 Steve Kerr 16.7 9.9 1.6 8.8 6.2 0.0
Los Angeles Lakers 2000 None - - - - - -
Los Angeles Lakers 2001 None - - - - - -
Los Angeles Lakers 2002 None - - - - - -
San Antonio Spurs 2003 None - - - - - -
Detroit Pistons 2004 Mike James 19.7 14.3 1.4 8.9 10.2 0.3
Rasheed Wallace 30.6 18.8 2.4 35.0 15.3 2.3
San Antonio Spurs 2005 Nazr Mohammed 18.1 14.2 0.8 23.0 16.3 1.7
Miami Heat 2006 Derek Anderson 20.2 8.7 0.6 8.3 8.8 0.1
San Antonio Spurs 2007 None - - - - - -
Boston Celtics 2008 None - - - - - -
Los Angeles Lakers 2009 None - - - - - -

I was pretty surprised to see that only seven of the last 23 NBA champions had even added a rotation player, through a trade, during the season. Drexler and Rasheed Wallace are the ones who stand out as being most successful. Although Mike James did not play often or well for the Pistons during their 2004 playoff run, he was a significant contributor for them finishing out the regular season. Looking at this table really highlights what an impressive coup it was for the Pistons to add those two players mid-season.

This is obviously a small sample, and doesn’t really give all the information I was looking for. Sometime next week I will try to dig in a little deeper, and setting aside championships, see if mid-season acquistions have historically had a certain type of impact. Stay tuned . . .

Topics: Indiana Pacers, NBA, NBA Finals, NBA Playoffs, Statistical Analysis

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