Raptors' Colangelo Betting on Big?

Aaah...so THAT explains Patrick O'Bryant...


Prepare yourself for an Aaron Gray max contract next off-season...

As part of my NBA off-season regiment, I've been playing catch-up on some reading.

Stacks and stacks of magazines plague my condo, and while I've gradually been going through them all the past few weeks, I've also put many aside that have caught my attention for one reason or another.

Take ESPN Mag's "Money Issue" from this past May.

There was a column included that looked at Undervalued and Overvalued assets in sports in general and one of the "over-valued" elements was NBA small ball.

From the post:

"Teams that finish in the top 25 per cent in wins spent much more on premium frontcourt players (centers and forwards in the top 10 per cent of salaries at their positions) and less on premium guards. Despite plenty of bad contracts offered in pursuit of impact seven-footers, spending on bigs creates the best Player Efficiency Rating relative to the league median for each position."

Interestingly, in the same issue, seven-footers were also included...and on the over-valued list too.

So what gives?

The key is supply and demand.

Big men are a scarce resource and from the post, a team exec confides that even an "average center is worth four times an above-average guard."

Translation - if you're going to dole out stupid contracts, do it on big men.

We see this "gamble on size" phenomenon each year in the NBA draft too, where prospects like Andre Drummond get picked before legit college studs like Jared Sullinger and Kendall Marshall.

What's interesting from a Raptors' perspective is that Bryan Colangelo has tended to gamble on small ball, over-paying for guards and wings.

Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Kapono, Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza, Jarrett Jack, Fred Jones, Quincy Douby, Hassan Adams, Will Solomon, and on, and on...

Amir Johnson would be an exception on the list, as would smaller moves like the signing of Patrick O'Bryant, Maceo Baston and Joey Dorsey etc, but for the most part, the significant free-agent moves on Bryan Colangelo's watch, weren't of the "big" variety.

And while it's obviously a more complex discussion, Toronto's best teams under Bryan Colangelo were those that not only had big man Chris Bosh at the core, but were also those surrounded by competent big men acquisitions like Rasho Nesterovic and Jorge Garbajosa.

Perhaps Colangelo has realized this, helping to explain his recent renewed zest in depth up front.

Recent drafts have netted the likes of Jonas Valanciunas, Ed Davis and Quincy Acy, and adding depth in the line of Aaron Gray and Jamaal Magloire has been a boon for a club that tended to be under-represented in the size department in the past.

Last year Toronto sported a rebounding percentage of .509, tied for ninth-best in the NBA so perhaps there's a correlation here, and betting on big is the way to go.

And if that's the case, suddenly acquisitions like O'Bryant, Jake Voskuhl and Primo Brezec make a lot more sense.

I think.

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