With defenses getting more complex and space harder to come by, the NBA has put a premium on role players with certain skill sets. If you aren’t a star and aren’t a seven-footer, you better be able to do two things well: stretch the floor on offense and lock down on defense. These “3-and-D” players are coveted, with guys like Jimmy Butler, Danny Green and Wes Matthews inflating their own value and reputation by doing those things extremely well.
Several players in that mold hit the market this summer, with some landing more lucrative contracts than others. Using Bryan Mears’ "salary-by-production" metric, we can see how these guys did compared to their salary last season and how their new paychecks stack up.
Contract: 2 years, $2.6 million
2013-14 Salary: $947,907
2013-14 Salary-by-Production: $3.9 million (win shares), -$8.975 million (nERD)
Playing on a league minimum contract last season, Anderson was one of a very small number of bargain contracts on the bloated Brooklyn Nets salary sheet last season. In the Nets’ first round victory over the Raptors, then-coach Jason Kidd inserted Anderson into the starting lineup to provide the shooting touch that Shaun Livingston lacked. While Anderson was a below-average shooter from deep over the course of the season, hitting just under 34 percent, he actually shot worse in the playoffs at 29 percent. Still, Anderson outperformed his contract in terms of win shares, and playing for the veteran’s minimum yet again, he’ll likely do the same in 2014-15. But while his reputation and Brooklyn’s plans for him may be to stretch the floor, he’ll have to hit at a much higher rate to actually provide that space.
Contract: 4 years, $32 million
2013-14 Salary: $7.28 million
2013-14 Salary-by-Production: $12.8 million (WS), $8.47 million (nERD)
Ariza put up a career year in his contract year last year, far outperforming his salary in terms of both win shares and nERD. Playing alongside expert drive-and-kicker John Wall, Ariza reaped the benefits, notching career highs in true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, three-point percentage and threes made and attempted. Yet the Wizards, perhaps for the first time in franchise history, weren’t willing to throw piles of cash at Ariza and instead let him head to Houston. There, he’ll provide better shooting and perimeter defense than the departed Chandler Parsons, who has the potential to be very good at both but hasn’t quite reached it yet. While many detractors are gleeful about Daryl Morey’s failed offseason plans, landing Ariza on a deal that declines annually is not a bad get; that is, unless last season in Washington proves to be a fluke. At least it will be hard for Ariza to be worse than his last stint in Houston.
Contract: 4 years, $32 million
2013-14 Salary: $2.5 million
2013-14 Salary-by-Production: $5.1 million (WS), -$12.15 million (nERD)
Bradley is a young, long defender, capable of guarding both guard spots, and he’s developed into a three-point threat from all around the arc. But on a team that currently has Rajon Rondo and just drafted Marcus Smart, this feels like an unnecessary overpay. Aside from the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Bradley hasn’t been able to stay healthy, from shoulder injuries to sprained ankles. Bradley’s numbers took a tip when Rondo returned to the lineup last winter, but he perked up and put up some impressive scoring numbers in the spring. If that carries over and Bradley improves offensively, this contract looks fair. But if he replicates last seasons’ numbers, Boston may be looking at a tough-to-move contract down the line.
Contract: 3 years, $12.6 million
2013-14 Salary: $3.18 million
2013-14 Salary-by-Production: $5.9 million (WS), $274,612 (nERD)
Far removed from his days as a high-flying 20 point-per-game scorer, VC has carved out a niche as a very effective role player, aging far better than anyone could have expected. Who would have guessed that Carter would work his way up into the top-10 all-time in threes made and attempted (7th and 8th, respectively)? Yet here he is, at 37 years old with a three-year deal to help provide some punch for Memphis. Carter played the fewest minutes per game of his career last season, but launched threes at as high a rate as ever, 6.8 per 36 minutes; his only higher attempts-per-36 number came in 2012-13. After gaining a rep as a weak defender early in his career, VC has learned how to play within a system and could often be seen directing players on that end in Dallas. He should have no problem fitting in with the Grizzlies and immediately becomes one of their best shooters and pick-and-roll players.
Contract: 3 years, $12 million
2013-14 Salary: $3.9 million
2013-14 Salary-by-Production: $3.6 million (WS), -$239,648 (nERD)
You can look at Sefolosha’s rough 2013-14 season two ways: it was either a down year or the beginning of a steep downslope for the swingman. After two straight years over 40 percent from long range, Sefolosha barely cracked 30 percent from three-point land last season (31.6 percent), rendering him unplayable toward the end of the Thunder’s playoff run. When you remember that Scott Brooks hadn’t changed his starting lineup for what felt like a decade, aside from injury, you realize how bad Sefolosha was. The Hawks are hoping he can recover some of that shooting stroke in their five-out offense. While his defense hasn’t fallen off (fifth on the Thunder last year with 2.1 defensive win shares), Sefolosha will need to rediscover his stroke to make him worth $4 million a year.
Contract: 2 years, $14 million
2013-14 Salary: $7.5 million
2013-14 Salary-by-Production: $6.66 million (WS), -$1.6 million (nERD)
Michael Jordan brought the former national champion at the University of North Carolina back home on a two-year deal, providing the Hornets with some length at the forward spot. With a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Williams could be part of a terrifying lock-down trio that includes Lance Stephenson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in Charlotte. While his 6-foot-9 frame seems a little small to pair alongside Al Jefferson, Charlotte had a very solid defense last season despite not featuring too many guys noted as stout defenders. Last year in Utah, Williams took and made career-highs in threes while maintaining a solid 35.9 percent clip. If he can come close to matching his salary-by-production from last year (at least in terms of win shares), his deal will look very solid next to the bargain the Hornets got in Lance.