Finding the Best Fit: Updated 2015 Trade Grades


Mar 25, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (34) shoots the ball during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks ago I wrote a trade deadline article, proclaiming that by Real Plus Minus, that the Heat were the big winners of the trade deadline, and the Thunder the big losers. This probably seemed half right on that day– Dragic finally gets to hold the basketball in Miami — and half-stupid, as the Thunder have been in dire need of a competent offensive center for most of their existence in the National Basketball Association. But, most all-in-one stats looked very unfavorably on Enes Kanter, to put it mildly. His Box Plus Minus (BPM) while on the Jazz was a bottom feeding minus-4.2.

To determine which teams have made the most impressive moves this season, I looked at *all* traded players logging at least 250 minutes per team and their per-team Box Plus Minus. By doing this we can compare a player’s performance and value added per possession to their team, on each team.

Of course, this isn’t measuring how a player might improve in the future, their contract, or how much they might decline – which are all extremely important in making front office decisions, but at the very least we can estimate some of the impact these trades have made on the regular season.

Here I measure two things:

  1. “Better Fit Score[1. “Better Fit” Score = Average difference between all new players’ BPM on Your Team minus their BPM while on their Prior Team, minimum of 250 minutes per team required for each player]”: how much better players’ box-score contributions per 100 possessions is on their new team than their old team.
  2. “Trade Score[2. Trade Score = Average BPM of all new players minus Average BPM traded away (BPM while playing for said team only), minimum of 250 minutes per team required for each player]”: how well new players have performed minus the performance of those traded away.

The Heat are receiving some obvious praise here, getting rid of Norris Cole and gaining Dragic seem to be obvious victories. The Hornets dumping Neal for a much-improved Mo Williams has certainly gone in their favor as well. At the bottom of the list, we see the Mavs not exactly enjoying the fruits of Texas-Rondo (and playing without Brandan Wright!) The Bucks are also not exactly enjoying losing their team-best BPM player Brandon Knight (+2.3) and gaining the very meh -2.0 Michael Carter Williams.

The Jazz *and* the Thunder have benefited from Kanter’s movement as you can see below: -4.2 on the Jazz and +1.7 on the Thunder. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that his jump is nearly the highest of all players on this list. But J.R. Smith actually has had the biggest overall BPM improvement, -3.3 on the Knicks and +3.4 (!) on the Cavs. Better coaching and way less offensive attention on the best offense in the NBA have certainly been factors at play.

PlayerPosAgeFirst TeamBPMSecond TeamBPMDifference
J.R. SmithSG29NYK-4.3CLE3.47.7
Enes KanterC22UTA-4.2OKC1.75.9
Will BartonSG24POR-4DEN1.15.1
Mo WilliamsPG32MIN-2.6CHO1.54.1
Anthony TolliverPF29PHO-3.9DET-0.13.8
Ramon SessionsPG28SAC-6.1WAS-2.63.5
Timofey MozgovC28DEN-1.8CLE1.63.4
Iman ShumpertSG24NYK-1.9CLE12.9
Tarik BlackC23HOU-3.7LAL-12.7
Goran DragicSG28PHO0.8MIA3.12.3
Quincy PondexterSG26MEM-2.4NOP-0.32.1
Thomas RobinsonPF23POR-3.8PHI-1.72.1
Alexey ShvedSG26PHI0.1NYK2.12
Reggie JacksonPG24OKC-0.4DET1.51.9
Jeff GreenSF28BOS-1.7MEM-0.21.5
Gary NealSG30CHO-4.4MIN-31.4
Austin RiversSG22NOP-3.4LAC-2.60.8
D.J. AugustinPG27DET-2.2OKC-1.90.3
Thaddeus YoungPF26MIN-0.1BRK0.20.3
Andre MillerPG38WAS-2.5SAC-2.30.2
Jameer NelsonPG32DAL-1DEN-1.1-0.1
Tayshaun PrinceSF34MEM-2.1DET-2.2-0.1
Isaiah ThomasPG25PHO1.4BOS1.2-0.2
Jae CrowderSF24DAL1.1BOS0.6-0.5
Josh SmithPF29DET1.3HOU0.6-0.7
Lance ThomasSF26OKC-5.5NYK-6.2-0.7
Michael Carter-WilliamsPG23PHI-1.2MIL-2-0.8
Dion WaitersSG23CLE-3.1OKC-4.1-1
Corey BrewerSF28MIN0.3HOU-0.7-1
Isaiah CanaanPG23HOU-2.1PHI-3.1-1
Norris ColePG26MIA-3NOP-4.6-1.6
Rajon RondoPG28BOS0.3DAL-1.4-1.7
Arron AfflaloSG29DEN-1.5POR-3.2-1.7
Kyle SinglerSF26DET-1.1OKC-2.9-1.8
Jonas JerebkoPF27DET1.1BOS-1.1-2.2
Brandan WrightPF27DAL6.8PHO2.4-4.4
Brandon KnightPG23MIL2.3PHO-4-6.3