2009-2010 Free Agent Evaluation: Chris Duhon | Magic Basketball



Jul 07

2009-2010 Free Agent Evaluation: Chris Duhon


Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Synergy-fueled player evaluations, with the help of other metrics, are always fun.

Today, Chris Duhon.

2009-2010 regular season Chris Duhon
Games Played 67
Minutes Played 30.9
adj. +/- -2.02
net +/- +1.0
statistical +/- -2.41
PER 10.7
WARP -0.5
Win Shares/48 .045

Since the beginning of the off-season, the Orlando Magic were linked to names like Carlos Boozer, Chris Paul, among others, in possible trade scenarios. As such, Magic fans were anxious to see if general manager Otis Smith would strike with another blockbuster move, similar to the one he pulled off last year when Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson arrived via trade from the New Jersey Nets. But Smith has maintained, since the season has been over for Orlando, that he wants to makes tweaks here and there, not alterations.

After not drafting a point guard in the 2010 NBA Draft, it was expected that Smith would address the need in free agency and that’s what he’s done. Perhaps that was Smith’s plan all along. In any case, Smith dipped into the free agent pool and made a minor splash, signing Chris Duhon to a 4-year, $15 million contract to play back-up point guard for the Magic. Given that the point guard crop in free agency is rather weak, it seems like this is the best Smith could do.

Yes, C.J. Watson is technically available. However, because Watson is a restricted free agent, if Smith signed him, he would have to wait a maximum of seven days before the Golden State Warriors could choose to match the offer sheet or not. That’s time that Smith couldn’t afford to waste, given that there’s not a lot of decent point guards available in the open market. Smith’s target, Duhon, could have been picked up before a decision was made on Watson. Then Smith would be empty-handed. So Duhon it is, two years after Smith pursued him in free agency in 2008.

It’s clear that the Magic needed to get younger at the point guard position, given that the two back-ups were Jason Williams (34) and Anthony Johnson (35). Williams and Johnson have been around the block, but it’s clear that Orlando needed an infusion of young blood at a position that was old this season. At the age of 27, Duhon is a youthful point guard that can defend, or at least that’s what his reputation dictates.

Is Duhon a good fit for the Magic?

Let’s find out.

Via Synergy Sports Technology:

2009-2010 regular season Time Poss. PPP* Rank Rating
OVERALL OFFENSE 100% 592 0.83 25% Below Average
P&R Ball Handler 37.3% 221 0.72 32% Average
Spot-Up 18.6% 110 1.04 73% Very Good
Isolation 10.6% 63 0.92 78% Very Good
Hand Off 10% 59 0.97 61% Good

.501 .472 4.9 25.9 18.2 13.1 107

For his career, Duhon has always been an average shooter at his best. Once in a while, Duhon will post some numbers above his norm but for the most part, he is an average player offensively. Duhon’s statistics were below-average this year, partly because he was battling a back injury with the New York Knicks. It should be noted that, in previous years, Synergy has rated Duhon as “Average” on offense. For his career, Duhon’s advanced shooting percentages have almost exactly been at the borderline of average. Do you sense a pattern?

One of the main reasons that Duhon should mesh well with the Magic is because he is able to run pick and rolls effectively. It’s no secret that head coach Mike D’Antoni runs a pick and roll-heavy offense with the Knicks. As a result, the 1/5 pick and roll with Duhon and David Lee was a regular sight at Madison Square Garden the past two seasons. Yet the stats show that Duhon was average in pick and rolls as the ball handler. Why? Well, Duhon isn’t the greatest shooter in the world and he does a poor job of finishing at the rim (48.1 percent). Nevertheless, Duhon does an excellent job of hitting the roll man. Duhon is a better passer than he is a scorer, in those situations. Even though Duhon is more than capable of executing pick and rolls, he shouldn’t be considered a devastating option offensively like Jameer Nelson. By the way, Duhon’s turnover percentage is alarming, given that his usage rate is low. That’s a problem.

When Duhon isn’t running pick and rolls, he is a good spot-up shooter. Duhon thrives in catch-and-shoot situations and oddly enough, fares better when he’s guarded (46 percent) than when he’s unguarded (32 percent). Given that a lot of Orlando’s points come from spot-up shooting opportunities, Duhon should fit in nicely in that regard. And because Duhon has never played with such a talented offense, with players like Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, just to name a few, the opportunity is there for him to achieve a career-high with his three-point percentage. If Williams could do it, so can Duhon. It’s not a guarantee of happening but given the circumstances, the possibility is there for Duhon as long as he remains healthy. It’s also encouraging to see that Duhon is able to create for himself when he needs to. Very rarely will the Magic need to rely on Duhon to generate points but whenever the second unit gets stagnant on offense, which will happen, he can get his own buckets if necessary … just not in the paint. Duhon is an average shooter. A streaky shooter, too, but average nonetheless.

Via Synergy Sports Technology:

2009-2010 regular season Time Poss. PPP* Rank Rating
OVERALL DEFENSE 100% 531 0.93 33% Average
Spot-Up 31.6% 140 0.89 23% Below Average
P&R Ball Handler 26.4% 74 0.68 25% Below Average
Isolation 13.9% 60 0.93 91% Excellent
Post-Up 11.3% 58 0.83 37% Average

net def. +/- dMULT opp. PER TRB% STL% BLK%
+0.40 1.119 19.7 (vs. PG’s) 4.9 1.5 0.1

There is a reputation out there for Duhon that he is a good defender. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why Smith decided to sign Duhon. Unfortunately for Duhon, the numbers don’t line up with the rep he’s received. Duhon’s average statistics could be explained away by the simple fact that he was playing with New York, a squad that plays little to no defense on a consistent basis. The truth is, Duhon was an excellent isolation defender in 2010 but he was average in 2009. During his time with the Knicks, though, Duhon struggled the most against spot-up shooters and pick and roll ball handlers. With the latter, sometimes Duhon got himself in trouble when he goes over, under, or into the pick. Duhon’s bug-a-boos in defending pick and rolls has varied the last two years, actually.

Duhon’s numbers have been consistently average for the past few seasons, which may be surprising to some people that have grown to consider Duhon a net positive defensively. The fact that Duhon is, cumulatively, an average defender, even when he benefitted from playing with the NBA’s best defensive unit in 2007 suggests that he might be average again while benefitting from playing alongside the best defender in the league. With a lesser offensive role, Duhon could concentrate more of his efforts on defense. Though even in a similar role, Duhon was no different defensively in previous seasons.

Closing thoughts
Steve Blake set the market for free agent point guards, more or less, when he agreed to a 4-year, $16 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. If you compare Duhon to Blake, the difference in talent is negligible. Both are below-average players, though Duhon is the better defender. Are both overpaid? Yes.

The issue, when it comes to Duhon, is whether or not the Magic could have gotten a better point guard in free agency. In Orlando’s price range, Watson was probably the best option out there but given that he is a restricted free agent, the Warriors were probably not going to let him go easily. The other options out there for the Magic didn’t differentiate themselves. So in that case, signing Duhon begins to make more sense, even though he’s just a decent pick-up. Indeed, Duhon had a bad season with the Knicks but he’s seen better days.

Is Duhon a home-run signing? No, but Orlando could have done worse than Duhon.

Ask the Minnesota Timberwolves.

*points per possession