Greg Steele Grades the Northwest Division's Offseason

Editor's Note: Greg Steele graded every team's moves this offseason and kindly let us host it. Since we have less than a week since the NBA is back and an editor was slow on releasing this content, we're doing some clever combining of teams. Today's theme? The Northwest Division. Greg has his own win variant, so check out his site (link below) for his methodology. Also, if you notice any many transactions, let us know!

The Methodology (Again)

I have already outlined a method to accurately grade offseason moves based on an analysis of the cost of wins in the NBA, the relationship between performance and salary, and a rubric to help the grades make sense. Now, I'm presenting the first annual NBA Offseason Data Crunch, in which I evaluate every move made by every team this summer. Before you dig in, there are two caveats:

  • In what follows, I will evaluate all acquisitions in terms of the player's value relative to the value of his contract. This means that for trades, we are not interested (right now) in figuring out which team won or lost the trade. There is a time for evaluating trades in that manner, but today's analysis will consider moves purely in terms of cost-efficiency.
  • The data crunch will deal only with players who are likely to impact winning or losing NBA games this year, and players whose impact we are able to reliably estimate. Rookies and future draft picks, as they do not have any NBA data, are difficult to forecast with the same accuracy as existing NBA players, so I will leave them aside for now.

Denver Nuggets

Jamal Murray signs with Denver Nuggets for 5 years/$170 million

Gulp. Murray is a high-quality young player, a rising star entering his age-22 season. He has improved from 3.1 wins (=$5.5 million) as a rookie to 6.2 wins ($14.9 mil) as a soph to 7.2 wins (20.6 mil) last year. My instinct is to say that the Nuggets did well to lock him in long-term. Though Murray is not yet worth $34 million, he certainly looks like he is becoming the type of player who is worth that much. Since this contract will take Murray from his age-22 season through his age-26 season, it is difficult to fault the Nuggets for paying above his current value. The majority of NBA players improve between the ages of 22 and 26, and Murray has improved significantly in each season thus far. Your opinion on this contract depends mostly on your appetite for risk. If you’re a cautious, conservative decision-maker, this looks like devoting a ton of money to a player who may never be worth it. If you can stand some risk, this looks a reasonable bet on a young star to continue to improve.


Denver Nuggets trade OKC for Jerami Grant

Honestly, I like this deal for the Nuggets. Grant has averaged 3.9 wins per season since 2015-16, which makes him worth $7.1 mil/yr. He will make $9.3 million next year, then have a player option for the same amount the following season. Grant reached his apex as a low-usage, high-efficiency player in 2015-16, with 4.6 wins on 54% Total Efficiency. In the subsequent campaigns, he has expanded his game. Though the transition was difficult initially, he has progressed from 2.6 wins on 45% efficiency in 2017 to 3.7 wins in 2018 to 4.8 last year (with 51% efficiency in each of the last two years). Grant’s 2019 performance is valued at $9.5 million, and since he is entering his age-25 season, it is pretty easy to forecast him exceeding his contract.


Name Season Greg Wins Greg Wins per G Greg Wins per 48
Jamal Murray 2018-19 7.2 0.096 0.142
Jamal Murray 2017-18 6.2 0.077 0.116
Jamal Murray 2016-17 3.1 0.038 0.084
Jerami Grant 2018-19 4.8 0.06 0.088
Jerami Grant 2017-18 3.7 0.046 0.108
Jerami Grant 2016-17 2.6 0.032 0.081
Jerami Grant 2015-16 4.6 0.06 0.106

Minnesota Timberwolves

Jordan Bell signs with Minnesota Timberwolves for 1 year/$2 million

Y’all, send help next offseason if you haven’t heard from me. I think I’m the only person still holding out atop Jordan Bell Mountain, and it’s getting bleak up here. There are things my man does well, and I want to believe that he can turn his explosive dynamism into a career as a plus defender. He has put up 5 wins in his first two seasons, which should be a $4.5 million annual value. But… if he’s gonna earn legitimate playing time, he’s got to improve at staying engaged and attached to his man off the ball. His jump shot is still a work in progress, but man – his tools are top-notch.


Jake Layman signs with Minnesota Timberwolves for 3 years/$12 million

Layman broke through last season with 2.4 wins (a $4.4 million value). If Layman gets enough opportunity in Minnesota (which looks to be the case, given the three-year commitment), he should provide some excess value.


Name Season Greg Wins Greg Wins per G Greg Wins per 48
Jordan Bell 2018-19 2.2 0.032 0.134
Jordan Bell 2017-18 2.8 0.049 0.167
Jake Layman 2018-19 2.4 0.033 0.086
Jake Layman 2017-18 0.2 0.006 0.063
Jake Layman 2016-17 0.4 0.01 0.069

Oklahoma City Thunder

Mike Muscala signs with Oklahoma City Thunder for 2 years/4 million

Muscala’s annual value has ranged from $2.9 million to $4.1 million, although he has never reached average efficiency during that time. Even though Muscala will get OKC what they paid for and a bit more, we are really evaluating the Thunder signing him period. A low-usage backup big who is below average efficiency is just not a useful player to have on your roster, even if he is mathematically worth more than a minimum contract.


Oklahoma City Thunder trade HOU for Chris Paul, two first-round picks, and two pick swaps

CP3 has racked up 29 wins in the past four seasons, equating to $20.9 million per year. Unfortunately for the Thunder, last season was the first campaign in which there was a dip in Chris Paul’s per-minute productivity. Though he missed time due to injury in previous seasons, he still put up between .178 and .186 wins per 48 minutes in the ’16, ’17, and ’18 seasons. Since he is still owed just over $120 million across the remaining three seasons of his deal, Paul looks to be far too costly at this stage of his career.


Oklahoma City Thunder trade LAC for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, five first-round picks, and two first-round pick swaps

Gallo will make $22.6 million this year in the final year of his contract, despite having an average annual value of only $6.7 million since 2016. Even at his best last season, Gallinari was only worth half of his contract. Given OKC’s current situation, they may look to move Gallinari between now and the trade deadline, which would mitigate the negative impact of his price tag. As an expiring contract with on-court value, Gallo could be an attractive target for contenders.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an All-Rookie level performance last year, contributing 3.9 wins and $7.1 million in value. SGA will earn $13.6 million total over the last three years of his rookie contract. At only his productivity level from his rookie season, Gilgeous-Alexander would provide $8 million in value above his salary. However, since he just finished his age-20 season with a 55.4% TS% and looks to have plenty of room to improve, it is an easy bet that he is likely to provide the Thunder with two to three times as much value as he costs.

The draft picks, while as yet undetermined, are likely to provide good value due to the cost-controlled nature of rookie contracts.


Name Season Greg Wins Greg Wins per G Greg Wins per 48
Mike Muscala 2018-19 1.7 0.027 0.063
Mike Muscala 2017-18 1.9 0.035 0.085
Mike Muscala 2016-17 2.2 0.031 0.085
Mike Muscala 2015-16 1.2 0.02 0.1
Chris Paul 2018-19 5.4 0.092 0.138
Chris Paul 2017-18 7.2 0.123 0.186
Chris Paul 2016-17 7.1 0.117 0.178
Chris Paul 2015-16 9.3 0.126 0.185
Danilo Gallinari 2018-19 5.5 0.081 0.128
Danilo Gallinari 2017-18 1.2 0.059 0.088
Danilo Gallinari 2016-17 3.8 0.061 0.086
Danilo Gallinari 2015-16 4.5 0.085 0.118
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 2018-19 3.9 0.047 0.085

Portland Trail Blazers

Mario Hezonja signs with Portland Trailblazers for 2 years/$4 million

The actual total salary is $3.6 million, I just chose to round to the nearest million in the header. While the salary is negligible in the NBA landscape, Hezonja was only a legitimate rotation-quality player in one of the past four seasons (2017-18), so it’s really more a question of whether he is worth signing at all than it is a question of how much he should be paid.


Anthony Tolliver signs with Portland Trailblazers for 1 year/$2.6 million

Tolliver has generally not been a quality backup, averaging 2.2 wins per season and never meeting league average production rate in the past four seasons. He only met league-average efficiency in one of the four seasons. Like Hezonja, I evaluate Tolliver as a fringe player, not a player who should have a roster spot on a potential playoff team.


Portland Trailblazer trade ATL for Kent Bazemore

Bazemore is going to be significantly overpaid next year, to the tune of a $12.3 million overage. Eek. Bazemore is certainly a decent enough player, and the contract is about to expire, so some will applaud the move. Nonetheless, it is a significant overage.


Rodney Hood signs with Portland Trailblazers for 2 years/$16 million

Hood has been worth 3.4 wins per season over the last four years, though his performance has fluctuated wildly from year to year (as any observer can affirm). On average, Rodney Hood is worth $6.0 million a year, but the average is an unreliable predictive tool for Hood. Portland doesn’t really know if they’ll get the productive Rodney Hood from Utah, the dumpster fire who disappeared from Cleveland’s playoff rotation, or the surprise bench scorer who surfaced in Portland at the end of last year. The deal is a risk.


C.J. McCollum signs extension with Portland Trailblazers for 3 years/$100 million

McCollum has notched 28.6 wins since 2015-16, equating to an average annual salary of $20.2 million. His performance thus far falls well short of being worth $33 million per year, and McCollum's Total Efficiency has been below 50% in each of the seasons under consideration. To Portland's credit, they rewarded C.J. for a monstrous postseason performance. There is no harm in locking him up to an extension before he hits the open market, but this contract does set the ceiling for this Blazers team. They are not going to have meaningful cap space with so much of their money tied to Lillard and McCollum, and they are not likely to be able to trade for a star because they don't have many attractive trade assets (Aminu and Harkless are out the door, and nobody is hunting for Rodney Hood on the trade market). They cannot get equal value in a trade involving Jusuf Nurkic, so the Blazers are who they are.


Pau Gasol signs with Portland Trailblazers for 1 year/$2.6 million

Gasol has declined from 9.6 wins in 2015-16 to 0.9 wins last season. Given his track record and lack of minutes last season, coupled with the Blazers need for a dependable backup center in the absence of Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter, Gasol should easily be able to exceed the value of a typical minimum contract veteran.


Portland Trailblazers trade MIA for Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside is on the final season of his contract, which will pay him $27 million. With Portland needing a big man to fill in while Jusuf Nurkic is injured, Portland pulled the trigger to acquire him. “Wiltside” has averaged 7.7 wins per season since 2015-16, an annual value of $24.2 million. At his peak, however, Whiteside has produced at a value close to $37 million. This is a solid one-year rental.


Damian Lillard signs extension with Portland Trailblazers for 4 years/$196 million

Dame has averaged 10.4 wins in the past four seasons, establishing his baseline annual value at $58 million. In his extension, Lillard will make an average of $49 million per year. Lillard has two years and $61 million left on his current contract, which means that we can anticipate the Blazers getting loads of surplus value in the immediate future.


Name Season Greg Wins Greg Wins per G Greg Wins per 48
Mario Hezonja 2018-19 1.1 0.02 0.045
Mario Hezonja 2017-18 2.5 0.033 0.072
Mario Hezonja 2016-17 1.2 0.019 0.062
Mario Hezonja 2015-16 2.3 0.029 0.078
Anthony Tolliver 2018-19 1.2 0.019 0.054
Anthony Tolliver 2017-18 3.1 0.04 0.085
Anthony Tolliver 2016-17 2.1 0.032 0.068
Anthony Tolliver 2015-16 2.3 0.032 0.083
Kent Bazemore 2018-19 3.2 0.047 0.093
Kent Bazemore 2017-18 3.7 0.057 0.099
Kent Bazemore 2016-17 3.7 0.05 0.089
Kent Bazemore 2015-16 4.8 0.065 0.112
Rodney Hood 2018-19 2.2 0.031 0.057
Rodney Hood 2017-18 2.7 0.045 0.08
Rodney Hood 2016-17 3.2 0.054 0.096
Rodney Hood 2015-16 5.3 0.067 0.101
CJ McCollum 2018-19 5.7 0.081 0.115
CJ McCollum 2017-18 7.7 0.095 0.126
CJ McCollum 2016-17 7.7 0.096 0.131
CJ McCollum 2015-16 7.5 0.093 0.129
Pau Gasol 2018-19 0.9 0.029 0.115
Pau Gasol 2017-18 5.5 0.072 0.147
Pau Gasol 2016-17 5.9 0.093 0.175
Pau Gasol 2015-16 9.6 0.134 0.202
Hassan Whiteside 2018-19 8.1 0.112 0.231
Hassan Whiteside 2017-18 4.8 0.089 0.17
Hassan Whiteside 2016-17 9 0.117 0.172
Hassan Whiteside 2015-16 8.8 0.12 0.198
Damian Lillard 2018-19 9.6 0.12 0.162
Damian Lillard 2017-18 12.1 0.166 0.218
Damian Lillard 2016-17 9.6 0.128 0.171
Damian Lillard 2015-16 10.2 0.136 0.182

Utah Jazz

Bojan Bogdanovic signs with Utah Jazz for 4 years/$73 million

Bogdanovic has improved substantially in each of the last four seasons, from 2.8 wins in 2016 to 3.4 wins in 2017, to 4.3 wins in 2018, to 5.6 wins last year, yielding an average annual value of $7.3 million. As Bogdanovic enters his age-30 season, it is difficult to predict that he will continue his upward mobility. Last season, Bojan was worth $12.3, which would still well just short of the annual salary of his new contract. Bogdanovic should cost the Jazz at least $5 million per year more than he is worth.


Emmanual Mudiay signs with Utah Jazz for 1 year/$2 million

 In the last three seasons since his rookie campaign, Mudiay has put up between 1.6 and 1.9 wins each year. Though his efficiency has improved somewhat, his Total Efficiency has still not surpassed 45%. The cost will be low, however, so Utah fans shouldn’t mind the signing too much. In a significantly reduced role, and in a motion-based offensive scheme, the Jazz front office is presumably betting that Mudiay may be able to use his athleticism to attack the defense on the move rather than relying on his handle and decision-making with the ball, which have been well below standard thus far in his career.


Utah Jazz trade MEM for Mike Conley

Conley has averaged 7.3 wins per season in his last three healthy seasons. He should be worth about $63.9 million over the next three seasons; unfortunately, his contract will pay him over $97.5 million over that span. From a purely financial point of view, the trade is a losing move for the Jazz. In reality, Conley is likely the best player Utah could acquire. They know that they need a third star to go with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to have a chance of ever contending. Utah is unlikely to ever be able to attract a high-grade free agent, so trading for an aging star on a rebuilding team is probably their only avenue to attaining a top-shelf veteran.

The trade is really more about Donovan Mitchell than it is about Mike Conley. What this trade says is that Utah believes Donovan Mitchell can become good enough to carry them to a title if surrounded with a good secondary offense creator, possibly the best defender in the league, and a sufficient cast of role players. Time will tell whether or not that bet pays off, but for the time being, we can only say that the trade will cost Memphis more than it will be worth.


Joe Ingles signs a one year $14 million extension with the Utah Jazz

Editor’s Note: This transaction occurred after Greg’s initial draft. Thoughts are from Dre, so any complaints can head his way.

Ingles is a player where the Greg Wins and Wins Produced differ a little. By Wins Produced he’s a super-efficient great guard. By Greg’s numbers, he’s an average starter. The good news is that with this range, the Jazz are easily getting their money back. If Ingles could get more shots it would make both of us happier. I’ll conservatively say a B grade, but avoid leaving it official.

Ed Davis signs with Utah Jazz for 2 years/$10 million

Davis has been worth an average of 3.7 wins per season since ’15-’16, and has proven himself to be a reliable backup big man. The Jazz should double their money on this deal, as I project them to get $13.2 million in value out of Davis over the next two seasons. Davis should be a perfectly adequate replacement for Derrick Favors.


Name Season Greg Wins Greg Wins per G Greg Wins per 48
Bojan Bogdanovic 2018-19 5.6 0.07 0.105
Bojan Bogdanovic 2017-18 4.3 0.054 0.084
Bojan Bogdanovic 2016-17 3.4 0.041 0.077
Bojan Bogdanovic 2015-16 2.8 0.036 0.064
Emmanuel Mudiay 2018-19 1.8 0.03 0.053
Emmanuel Mudiay 2017-18 1.6 0.025 0.062
Emmanuel Mudiay 2016-17 1.9 0.034 0.064
Emmanuel Mudiay 2015-16 4.4 0.065 0.102
Mike Conley 2018-19 6.6 0.094 0.135
Mike Conley 2017-18 0.5 0.045 0.07
Mike Conley 2016-17 8.2 0.118 0.171
Mike Conley 2015-16 7 0.124 0.19
Joe Ingles 2018-19 5.3 0.064 0.099
Joe Ingles 2017-18 5.2 0.063 0.096
Joe Ingles 2016-17 4.1 0.05 0.099
Joe Ingles 2015-16 1.9 0.023 0.073
Ed Davis 2018-19 3.9 0.048 0.128
Ed Davis 2017-18 4 0.052 0.131
Ed Davis 2016-17 1.4 0.03 0.083
Ed Davis 2015-16 5.3 0.066 0.152

For more information and analysis, visit and follow Greg on Twitter @greekgodofstats, then be sure to check out The Basketball Bible.