It’s official! Bobby Jackson is no longer a Hornet; Mike James and Bonzi Wells now are. With this trade (completed an hour before the deadline), every one of the top 6 west teams has made a deal. Dallas got Kidd, LA got Gasol, San Antonio got Kurt Thomas, Phoenix got the Space Cadet, and Utah got Korver. Obviously, our trade isn’t on the magnitude of LA’s, Dallas’, or Phoenix’s, but how much will it impact the rest of our season? Let’s take a look:
Hey, this wasn’t a bad way to go out.
Let’s start with our guy, Bobby Jackson. I think any Hornet fan was moderately afraid every time B-Jax touched the ball early in the season. He had a tendency to put up shots regardless of distance and/or defensive pressure. But over the last month or so, he’s just been extremely reigned in, and extremely good. Want to know something crazy? Over the course of this season, he’s been our best ball-handler. Yeah, and that means better than Chris Paul. Of course, I’m using turnover-rates (Oliver’s not Hollinger’s) here to make my argument, not raw turnovers. But with a tiny turnover rate of just 8.9, he’s almost 50% better than both Paul and Pargo, who are both excellent ball-handlers themselves. So it was absolutely essential we got some sort of ball-handler from the deal, which the front-office made sure of.
Now on to the shooting: Bobby’s been on fire of late, obviously, but I really think that he was due for a stretch like this. A career .470 eFG% shooter, he’s slightly above that this season, but the real story is the long range distance he brings. Aside from Peja, Jackson was one of our top marksmen from distance, connecting on nearly 37% of his trifectas. Is it worth giving up a guy with vastly underrated ball-handling skills and a great jumper?
Statistically speaking, my initial impression is yes. The first guy we get- Mike James- was probably the most sought after point guard two off-seasons ago. That was following a year in which he posted a .538 eFG% mark, hit 44% of this threes, handed out 6 dimes a game, all while accepting a role as one of his team’s biggest scorers (20+ ppg). Ever since that season, though, his stats have been on a steady decline, and this year he’s averaging career lows across the board. He’s not going to hit as many threes as Jackson (he’s connecting on about 32% of his threes), and he’s definitely not going to take as good care of the ball (although by Oliver’s turnover rates, he still turns it over less than CP). But one thing he will bring is a pass first mentality Jackson never really had. This can be quantified by his career 25.6 AST% as opposed to Jackson’s sub 20% mark.
Of course Bonzi Wells is really the deal sealer. A rebounder almost of David West’s caliber, Wells brings some desperately needed frontline depth. Also, he brings one of the coolest names we’ve had in recent memory- Gawen Deangelo. The thing most people will miss about this trade is what each player brings on the defensive end. If I had to rank the three players defensively, my list would read 1. Bonzi, 2. Jackson, 3. Mike James. James has had some notoriously poor defensive seasons; in fact, during his career offensive year with Toronto, he posted one of the worst defensive seasons by a point guard in NBA history (a 115 D-rating where ~106 is league average and the lower the better). Conversely, Bonzi is one of the most underrated defenders of the last 10 seasons; this season his DRtg is an awesomely low 99, following a 98 he posted last year. For reference, Ben Wallace’s career DRtg is 94 (and he’s one of the best defenders in history). Jackson falls somewhere in between the two, at right around league average.
So my fearless predictions post-this trade:
1. We will see an ever so slight increase in turnovers. Tiny, maybe, but there.
2. We will see a smaller increase in overall rebounding numbers than one might expect (with Bonzi being added). The reason for that is Jackson was a solid rebounding guard, and better than James.
3. Offensively, we will actually get better. Bonzi gives our much maligned bench an option to throw to on the block that is not named Hilton Armstrong, and I really expect Mike James to pick up his numbers. There is absolutely no way he shoots 40% eFG% for an entire season. (Remember early in the season… I said the exact same thing about Bobby Jackson, and look what happened!)
4. Defensively, we will get better as well. Whether we get a lot better or slightly better really depends on James- while he did have that historically bad defensive season I mentioned, he’s been slightly better than league average this year. If I had to guess, I say this trade vaults us into the top 3 defensively (we’re 6th right now in Points Allowed/Possession).
And there you have it. Final verdict: Solid move. Oh and Bobby… remember this?
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