Is Tobias Harris Really a Big Win for the Detroit Pistons?
The NBA trade deadline can get pretty ridiculous.
It's part of what makes the Association what it is.
While isn't not a guarantee that pieces will fit together when actually on the court, midseason deals can certainly work out.
Will that be the case for the swap between the Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons, a deal that now has forward Tobias Harris in Detroit and forward Ersan Ilyasova and point guard Brandon Jennings in Orlando?
Let's break things down.
What Detroit Is Losing
The Pistons are 27-27 at the All-Star break, and most other things about them are pretty neutral as well. At 101.8 points per game, they rank 16th among 30 NBA squads. They allow 101.0 per game, 12th-best in the Association.
They rank the same way over 100 possessions, with an Offensive Rating of 105.2 and a Defensive Rating of 104.4. Their Pace (possessions per 48 minutes) of 95.4? 16th.
With Ilyasova on the floor, per Basketball-Reference, the Pistons own an Offensive Rating of 104.9, a notch below their season total and a mark that would tie for 19th in the NBA. Without him on the court, they're at 106.0, which would rank 12th.
Similarly, their Defensive Rating improves from 106.5 (which would rank 18th as a standalone team) with Ilyasova to 102.8 without him, which would rank 6th.
Keep this in mind as we move along. Detroit has been better without Ilyasova on the floor.
Jennings, on the other hand, has seen the opposite impact, albeit in 416 on-court minutes compared to Ilyasova's 1,433.
|Brandon Jennings||Minutes||Offensive Rating||Would-Be Rank||Defensive Rating||Would-Be Rank|
Now, it should be noted that seven NBA teams have Offensive Ratings between 105.0 and 105.9, so use some caution with the discrepancy in the rankings, but the Jennings boost (are we really going there?) has bumped them up a considerable amount on a per-possession basis.
Again, we're talking 416 minutes, but things haven't been too bad with Jennings on the floor.
Ilyasova? Not so much.
What Orlando Is Losing
Harris has some interesting splits in terms of how he's impacted the Orlando Magic, a team that is 23-29.
The team's Offensive Rating improves by nearly two points per 100 possessions, but they allow about half a point more with Harris.
That Offensive Rating of 104.7 would tie for just 21st in the NBA (but the 102.9 would be 27th). The Defensive Rating straddles the league average of 105.7.
So, even though the defense has been marginally worse with him on the floor, it's been about average (105.7 is the league average) overall. Orlando's mark is 105.2 overall this season.
What else do we need to know?
A Deeper Look
Per NBAWowy, Jennings and Ilyasova shared the floor for just 100 minutes (205 possessions this year), and the team's points per possession mark with both was 0.990. That means their Offensive Rating was 99. Only the Philadelphia 76ers (96.7) are below 100.5 this year.
Their Defensive Rating was 111.2, which, well, is worse than the Los Angeles Lakers' 110.5 this year, which ranks 30th in the NBA.
It's a small sample, yes, but we've already seen that Ilyasova hasn't been great for Detroit, at least as measured by his overall impact while on the floor.
And looking at the team's starting five (sans Ilyasova) shows room for improvement.
|Points Per Possession||Reggie Jackson||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope||Marcus Morris||Andre Drummond|
As for Harris and the Magic, most of the big-minute players see little or no bump either way.
Why might that be? Well, Vuc is only shooting 49.3 percent without Harris and 49.9 percent with him, and his points per shot is roughly the same, as well (1.03 with him and 1.02 without him). Is it because of his three-point ability?
One gripe you might hear about this all is that Ilyasova can stretch the floor and Harris can't.
Ilyasova is shooting 36.3 percent from three-point range this year, and Harris is at 31.1 percent. Case closed? Not quite.
Check out how the two operate from different areas of the three-point area -- and how many of their overall attempts actually come from beyond the arc.
|Player||Ersan Ilyasova||Tobias Harris|
|% FGA 3-Pt||42.3%||27.9%|
|% 3-Pt Above-Break||86.0%||58.9%|
|% 3-Pt Corner 3-Pt||14.0%||41.1%|
For Ilyasova, 42.3 percent of his attempts are three-pointers. Harris is below 30 percent. Like Ilyasova, Harris shoots the majority of his threes from above the break, but corner splits are much closer to 50 percent than Ilyasova's mark of 14.0 percent.
Yes, Ilyasova is hitting on a higher percentage from both spots and overall, but their usage isn't the same. They can both stretch the floor -- but not in the same way.
That will be an interesting variable to watch with Harris transitioning to the Pistons. Don't expect him to play the identical role that Ilyasova has played.
The consensus seems to be that the Magic got the short-end of the deal, especially considering what Ilyasova has done this season.
As much as I personally believe in Tobias Harris, he hasn't made a significant impact on a bad team. Given the change of scenery, he could help the Pistons make a playoff push, but the numbers aren't exactly suggesting it.
Per our nERD metric, which indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team as a starter, both are above-average talents. However, Ilyasova clocks in at a 2.3, and Harris is at 1.6.
Detroit is the 10th-best team in the NBA, per our numbers, and owns a 69.7 percent chance to make the playoffs before the trade.
Orlando, 19th in our rankings, owned just a 5.0 percent shot before the deal.
It's easy to get excited about the thought of Harris on a playoff contender, but the deal may not be as one-sided as many seem to think.