NBA Off-Season: Teams Adding the Most Value in Free Agency

Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

Teams Adding the Best Value in 2020 Free Agency

Outside of the draft, many teams have made moves to improve their rosters and get a shot at the playoffs and the championship. Free agency is a major factor in improving a team, and retaining and adding players can be the difference between a championship or a lottery pick.

*Win Shares per million (WSPM) = A player’s total win shares from last season / average annual salary

Attempts to measure value of a player in relation to his contract.

Higher WSPM = better deal for the team, WSPM generally around 0.25 for a contract of average value. WSPM may rise for lower-tier players with positive Win Shares due to league-minimum hovering around $1 million, while it lowers for higher-tier players as teams pay premium for superstars. (Examples: 0.8 WSPM for Terrence Mann, 0.23 WSPM for Anthony Davis, -0.61 WSPM for Jordan Poole last season)

 (Caveat: Win Shares are partially tied to a player’s games played and team success as well)

Atlanta Hawks

Key Additions/Retentions: Danilo Gallinari (3y/$61.5M), Rajon Rondo (2y/$15M), Kris Dunn (2y/$10M), Bogdan Bogdanovic (4y/$72M)

The Atlanta Hawks have been one of the more aggressive teams in free agency so far, using their immense cap space to lure free agents to play with Trae Young and the youthful Hawks. Adding Gallinari (0.31 WSPM), Bogdanovic (0.18 WSPM), Rondo (0.19 WSPM), and Dunn (0.46 WSPM) gives the Hawks a solid combination of value and veteran play. Gallinari and Bogdanovic will add wing shooting to a team that needs it outside of Trae Young (ranked 25th in the league in Effective Field Goal %). Meanwhile, Rondo and Dunn will help rectify Trae Young’s defensive struggles in the backcourt and add their combined 3.3 Defensive Win Shares to a lineup that ranked 27th in the league in Defensive Rating. Overall, the Hawks add valuable veteran experience, shooting, and defense, while giving out smart contracts to players that can boost the Hawks when Young is off the court.

Los Angeles Lakers

Key Additions/Retentions: Montrezl Harrell (2y/$19M), Marc Gasol (2y/$5.3M), Wesley Matthews (1y/$3.6M), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (3y/$40M), Markieff Morris(1y/$2.33M)

The defending champion Lakers seem to have only gotten better this free agency by upgrading the frontcourt and retaining key players. The big free agent add was Harrell, who brings a large 0.74 WSPM to the frontcourt, while Gasol also adds a whopping 1.13 WSPM in pursuit of a ring. Matthews (0.89 WSPM) brings great veteran value to the bench, helping fill the void created by losing Danny Green and Avery Bradley. Harrell and Gasol add to a 5 spot that lost Dwight Howard and was arguably the least stable part of the Lakers’ lineup, and their additions will also allow Anthony Davis to play the 4 more often, where he excels. Re-signing key players in Caldwell-Pope (0.28 WSPM) and Morris (0.6 WSPM) reinforces the Lakers’ lineup further. Rob Pelinka added a lot of value with lesser cap space, not to mention adding Dennis Schröder via trade, likely a result of players taking smaller deals due to the pull of playing with LeBron and the reigning NBA champs.

Portland Trailblazers

Key Additions/Retentions: Derrick Jones Jr. (2y/$19M), Rodney Hood (2y/$21M), Harry Giles (1y/$1.68M), Carmelo Anthony (1y/$2.56M),

While it may seem like the Portland Trail Blazers haven’t added much splash value through free agency, they have flown under the radar with their signings. Derrick Jones Jr. (0.46 WSPM) adds defense to the Trail Blazers (along with the trade acquisition of Robert Covington), who ranked 28th in the league in Defensive Rating last year. Big man Harry Giles is another new addition whose high 0.95 WSPM shows that he played some quality minutes when he was on the court, he will be a low risk depth add who could boom in the frontcourt if he develops into a more consistent player. Re-signing Hood (0.1 WSPM) and Carmelo (0.51 WSPM) gives the Blazers shooting back on the wing. Hood only appeared in 21 games last season (thus impacting his Win Shares), so having him for a whole year will especially help the team’s perimeter shooting. Portland re-signed key players while adding new quality talent at good value as well, giving them a solid free agency run.

*Information gathered from Basketball Reference and Spotrac

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