The Charlotte Bobcats have agreed to trade Raja Bell (SG) and Vladimir Radmanovic (SF/PF) to the Golden State Warriors for Stephen Jackson (SF) and Acie Law (PG) – and I have to ask why? The Bobcats send away 33 year old Raja Bell and his expiring contract for the 31 year old Jackson, and his contract that runs for 3 more years after this season, averaging over $9 million for those 3 years. Huh? Is Gerald Wallace getting moved? Are the Bobcats going to try and use Jackson as a 6-8 shooting guard (which he has spent just over 20 minutes at this season in Golden State and that for a coach who eschews traditional lineups)? I am not sure how he fits, in more ways than one.
Beside the position perplexity, what about role? The Bobcats need scoring – that is common knowledge. A cursory glance at numbers says that is why Jackson is moving to the Queen City – to be the primary scorer on a team without one. Not so fast – as in look at his numbers outside of the frantic pace of Warriors basketball. Yes, Jackson is averaging 16.6 points per game this season, and Bell just 12 – but per 100 team possessions the difference is just 2 points: Stephen Jackson has scored 23.1 points per 100 team possessions, and Bell is at 21.1. Another number to look at is points per shot: This season, Jackson is at 1.12 and Bell, 1.09 – for their careers, it is a virtual wash at 1.177 for Jackson to 1.175 for Raja.However, Jackson has needed 6.3 more possessions to get those points – so he is scoring more, but less effectively. Jackson does average nearly 5 assists per game, but, again, that number is partially inflated by playing for a team that averages over 15 (103.2 to 87.9) more possessions per game than the Bobcats.
The player swap tool is only so useful this early in the season, but it is useful to note two things – the expected defensive efficiency is nearly unchanged (actually improving a bit with Jackson – but that could well be negated by him playing out of position at SG) and the offensive efficiency drops significantly – from 106.7 with Raja Bell on the court to 102.5 with Jackson replacing him. Adding a low efficiency, high volume scorer is not what the Bobcats need at this point – it seems like a knee jerk reaction to an early season shooting slump – Gerald Wallace will not be at 35% for the season and D.J. Augustin showed a deft outside touch last year. The Bobcats are trading for a long term contract that does not even appear to be a short term solution – why?