One of the sneakier things the front office did at the deadline was trade Salmons and Tyrus and get back two guys on expiring deals, Hakim Warrick and Flip Murray, who seem to fit the vacated bench slots on first glance. Flip can score off the bench from the outside, and has done well scoring off the bench on teams with opportunistic frontcourts (2008-2009 Hawks, this year's Bobcats) and Hakim is a lanky forward who enjoys dunking who should be able to step into the role Tyrus would have made for himself if he had been capable of dependable play. But what do scoring rates and plus/minus numbers tell us about what we are missing/adding with these trades?
1. The trades will put more strain on the defense than the offense
According to the on/off court numbers at 82games.com, Salmons and Tyrus were making their biggest contributions on defense, not offense. On/Off is just the basic efficiency of the team when that player is on the floor and when he is not. It's a messy metric but I'm just going to use it to get a feel for what to watch going forward. With both former Bulls, On/Off indicates the offense was actually worse with them on the floor but the defense got significantly better (all stats are of the All-Star Break and do not include the two wins against the Knicks):
ON Salmons ORTG 102.2 DRTG 103.4 Thomas ORTG 101.6 DRTG 101.6
OFF Salmons ORTG 102.8 DRTG 107.8 Thomas ORTG 102.7 DRTG 106.0
NET Salmons ORTG -.6 DRTG -4.4 Thomas ORTG -1.1 DRTG -4.4
How do these metrics stack up with Murray and Warrick?
ON Murray ORTG 107.9 DRTG 103.7 Warrick ORTG 102.0 DRTG 107.3
OFF Murray ORTG 104.7 DRTG 104.4 Warrick ORTG 106.9 DRTG 103.1
NET Murray ORTG +3.2 DRTG -0.8 Warrick ORTG -4.9 DRTG +4.1
These numbers suggest Murray has been a net positive for his team on both ends of the floor, but Warrick hurt the Bucks on both ends. Ouch. I'll be watching Hakim closely to see if the defense suffers when Warrick is on the floor. The thing with on/off court numbers is they can fluctuate pretty dramatically from year to year and system to system, so they aren't a great predictor. Just for comparison's sake here are Murray's (Hawks) and Warrick's (Grizzlies) numbers from last year:
ON Murray ORTG 112.3 DRTG 106.4 Warrick ORTG 105.5 DRTG 109.8
OFF Murray ORTG 108.6 DRTG 110.3 Warrick ORTG 104.0 DRTG 111.2
NET Murray ORTG +3.7 DRTG -3.9 Warrick ORTG +1.5 DRTG -1.4
Murray improved a playoff bound Hawks team on both ends while Warrick did the same, to lesser effect, for a terrible Memphis team. Hopefully Murray can keep up his effective play for the Bulls, and Warrick can do better for us than he did in Milwaukee.
2. The new Bulls will help us get to the line more
John Salmons 4.2 FTA per 48 Flip Murray 6.3 FTA per 48
Tyrus Thomas 6.5 FTA per 48 Hakim Warrick 8.1 FTA per 48
Given that the Bulls currently rank 25th in Free Throw Rating (the ration of FTA to Field Goals Taken) and have one of the worst offenses by efficency rating (29th, according to hoopdata) in the league, Murray and Warrick may improve the offense by upping trips to the charity stripe.
Overall, I'm cautiously optimistic about Murray and pessimistic about Warrick. Losing Tyrus's defense is going to hurt-beyond all the spectacular plays he made, and the very visible times when he would blow a closeout on a three point shooter or give up points on a goaltend, he had a presence on defense and was rebounding much better defensively this year than he had in year's previous. Warrick has never had that kind of presence. Best case scenario, the frontcourt defense takes a dip but Warrick makes up for it by being reliable on offense in a way that Tyrus never was.
As far as Murray goes, Salmons has more size and is better from 3 by the percentages (38% to 31%), but Flip doesn't follow Fish's old adage to "Jab Step Twice, Shoot Once." Murray can make his own shot (the last two years, the majority of his shots were unassisted) and is generally aggressive with the ball. He will attack and get to the line, and with the guys in our frontcourt, who go after offensive rebounds, a good amount of those missed attacks will be put back. If he can play for us like he played for Atlanta last year (and you can make an argument for being a somewhat comparable team), I'm excited to see his offense off of the bench. There is a downgrade from Salmon's shooting, but if Flip keeps the pace up he could do just as good a job as Salmons did providing an offensive punch from the bench, albeit in a slightly different way.