Unless you have been living under a rock for the last twenty-four hours you have heard that a four team trade sending Dwight Howard to LA has occured. Finally, the "Dwightmare" has come to a conclusion. Involved in this certified blockbuster are two eastern conference foes, both taking very different approaches for the upcoming season. First, Orlando, who decided to go forward with roster void of any substantial talent, seemingly by design. On the other hand we have Philadelphia, who managed to finally find a solution for their uncontrollable urges to trade Andre Iguodala, while acquiring a top-three center in Andrew Bynum.
So that begs the question "How does this revitalized squad match up with a Milwaukee squad in vying for the postseason?"
For the sake of saving time I will only be evaluating my projected starting fives. During my evaluation I will utilize PER, WS (Win Shares), knowledge of player styles, and head-to-head stats. All statistics are from the 2011-2012 campaign gathered from basketball-reference.com
Brandon and Jrue where matched up three times during 2012 season and statistically Jrue generally had the edge. Posting a 3.7 +/- per 36 minutes Holiday shot a terrific 54% with Brandon on the court. Offensively Brandon was on par with his season averages shooting 42% and dishing 5.6 assists per 36 minutes. Jrue wasn’t asked to score to the extent Brandon was, as shown in the usage rates (Jennings posted a 25.9 USG% on 17.3 FGA per 36min compared to Jrue’s 21.8 USG% on 13.7 FGA per 36 min) and although Jrue had the edge last year talent-wise, and using my two key stats, I have to give the edge to Brandon.
It may seem obvious that Monta is a far better player at this point in their respective careers, with Monta averaging six points and two and a half more assists than a less explosive version of Jason Richardson. Unfortunately for the Bucks, Richardson brought it against the Bucks last season averaging over 18 points on 47% shooting while going 56% from behind the arc. He hit clutch shots on his way to helping the Magic sweep the Bucks 4-0 including some real heart breakers. Also, who could forget this? Now the Bucks have Monta and Richardson has a new team. Game on. Advantage Monta.
Luc Mbah a Moute (13.9 PER, 2.4 WS) vs. Thaddeus Young (18.9 PER, 6.33 WS)
For both of these teams the three spot is kind of up for grabs. I’m personally a big fan of stingy combo forwards so, even though Young only started one game last season, this is the direction I decided to go. Thaddeus Young has the advantage here offensively averaging 16.6 points per 36 minutes while shooting 50% compared to Mbah a Moute’s 11.9 on 51%. The reality of the situation is Luc will likely never play 36 minutes however his efficiency and defense will IMO give him the starting nod. Alas Thaddeus Young is more of a polished product and thus has the advantage.
Ersan Illyasova (20.5 PER, 6.4 WS) vs. Spencer Hawes (18.1 PER, 2.9 WS)
I have my doubts that Ersan is best suited in the starting line-up, also whether Spencer Hawes has the right game to translate to an NBA PF (although his mid-range game is somewhat effective in pick-n-pop situations). This is an interesting match-up (which may always be the case with Hawes) because Illyasova has an advantage with superior quickness however Hawes has a lot of size for an NBA four. It will be interesting to see in Lavoy Allen will work his way into the starting five while this could also be where Young ends up. For now, advantage Ersan.
Samuel Dalembert (16.9 PER, 4.1 WS) vs. Andrew Bynum (22.9 PER, 8 WS)
(I’m probably the only one who is going to sincerely miss a chance of a starting front court of Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes) The biggest name heading to the East, Bynum is simply dominant. A certified big good for around twenty points and ten rebounds night in and night out. Last year, Bynum alone would have made this matchup nearly impossible for an interiorly challenged Milwaukee team. The plan is Dalembert can put a body on Bynum and give Ellis and Jennings a fighters shot. Last year Bynum posted 25.3 points and 12.4 rebounds per 36 minutes against Dalembert, in short not good. A big advantage to Bynum here.
Average PER: Milwaukee – 17.44 Philadelphia – 17.58
WS per 81 games: Milwaukee – 26.10 Philadelphia – 30.10
Philadelphia won the series last season winning two of three eventually nudging the Bucks out of the playoffs on the way to a great postseason run. Both of these teams have made some shake-ups to compete for the playoffs in the 2013 campaign, but it seems Philadelphia has retained the advantage.
(Next I may do Washington, play with which stats I use, and add bench players, depends if this isn’t shut down by criticism! I know this is probably excessively long!)