Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Seven

With news that the Raptors are set to sign Tyler Hansbrough to a two-year deal using part of their Mid-Level Exception, my first thought was the cheap shot Hansbrough delivered to Jonas Valanciunas in February and Psycho T’s general reputation as a guy who can hand out said cheap shots but backs away when personally confronted.

When you get past the fake-tough-guy stuff and actually examine the numbers, however, the addition of Hansbrough could be more encouraging than at first glance…

Hansbrough excels in two key areas of the game, offensive rebounding and defence, and in case you needed a reminder, the Raptors finished 20th in offensive rebound rate last season and 22nd in defensive efficiency.

Hansbrough’s career-high offensive rebounding rate of 13.4 in 2012-13 was excellent, ranking 13th in the NBA, ahead of players like Kenneth Faried and Nikola Pekovic. And even if you assume that 13.4 was an outlier, his career offensive rebounding rate of 11.1 would have ranked in the top-40 this past season, just behind Amir Johnson and level with Serge Ibaka.

While he’s clearly an offensive liability as an option himself, Hansbrough will keep plenty of possessions alive for the Raptors, and if he can get to a point where he understands that the majority of his offence should be coming off of put-backs and around the rim, he can be even more valuable on that end of the floor. For what it’s worth, Hansbrough managed to keep his attempts at the rim steady at 2.4 per game despite a decrease in minutes in 2012-13, while his attempts per game from three-to-nine feet, 10-15 feet and especially from 16-23 feet all went down (which is good, because his percentages from those areas were well below average).

On the defensive end, Hansbrough posted some elite individual numbers in 2012-13, albeit in limited action (16.9 minutes per game). His overall defensive rating of 0.72 points allowed per possession ranked 14th in the NBA according to Synergy Sports, with his 0.58 points allowed per possession on post-up opportunities ranking eighth in the Association.

Throw in a conscious effort to get to the free throw line, an Alternate Player Efficiency Rating (HoopData’s adjusted version of PER) of 16.26 last season and the fact that he’s missed just 13 games total over the last three years, and you can begin to look past the cheap shots and shenanigans.

If Hansbrough can continue to produce on the offensive glass, can continue to keep his shot attempts down from the areas of the floor where he’s clearly weak and can continue to provide excellent defence in the post, then he should fit in well in a rotation that figures to boast efficient offensive big men in Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas, a floor stretching 6-10 forward in Steve Novak and a young developing forward in Quincy Acy who will crash the glass and provide stingy defence himself.

Where my question lies now is in relation to Aaron Gray, as The White Panther and theĀ $2,690,875 player option he picked up for the 2013-14 season could have theoretically combined with Acy to provide the same rebounding and defence that Hansbrough has seemingly been brought in to provide.

I’ve slowly started to come around to the Hansbrough acquisition after a closer examination of the numbers, but I don’t see the need for Psycho T, Acy and Gray, and I would assume that no one’s giving up on Acy yet, so does Gray become the odd man out, or does Quincy just continue to ride the pine for now?

With all due respect to Gray, who can usually be counted on to fill his role, most Raptors fans are hoping it’s the former rather than the latter.

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UPDATE: Holly MacKenzie reported on twitter that the deal is for $3 million per year over two years, with the second year being a team option. If that’s the case, then it’s hard not to like this deal, as the Raptors would acquire a bench big man who addresses some needs in the short-term without taking on the risk of any unnecessary financial commitment in the long term.

It’s actually quite comical how quickly most Raptors fans (myself included) went from being disappointed by this signing, to impressed by Hansbrough’s advanced metrics, to completely content with the acquisition and reported contract. Having said that, I still think paying Aaron Gray nearly $2.7 million this season is now redundant.

Comments (16)

  1. Psycho T contributes to winning so much that Indiana always cut his minutes back in the playoffs. That should tell you how limited he is.

    I would rather see players with growth potential get minutes on this team.

    • Bench players usually have their minutes cut in the playoffs when rotations get tighter. And that’s what Hansbrough is, a bench player. If the Raptors can get Hansbrough for about $5-6 million total over two years and can move Gray, this deal is fine. If they overpay Hansbrough and end up paying Gray nearly $2.7 million to be a fifth big, it doesn’t make much sense.

      • That’s what I mean – in spite of certain stats, his overall production is limited enough that he’s the kind of guy who loses minutes in the playoffs. That level of contribution is not worth the trade-off of employing a goon, in my opinion. I don’t want to see him in a Raptors jersey anymore than I would want to see Sean Avery in a Leafs jersey.

        There are role players who play tough and hustle without being cheap/dirty – that would be my preference. I’m not about to give Pscyho-T a pass just because he switched jerseys.

        • I also don’t think Psycho-T is developing anymore. At this stage, I’d rather see minutes go to guys like Acy (or acquire a similar prospect), or a move for someone like Kosta Koufos who was just acquired for Darrel Arthur and a late 2nd round pick. That’s a pretty low buying price for a 24 year old centre who’s been seeing considerable improvement in his game.

          But whatever – ultimately, as you noted, the contract is short and reasonable and Hansbrough’s not gonna break the team one way or the other. Just preference.

  2. It basically sounds like a one-year deal as there is a team option for the second year. He’s a much better/versatile player than Gray but basically got around the same salary, not bad.

  3. Don’t know why there was such negativity to the signing in the first place. I can’t stand Hansbrough but nevertheless, this is a good pick-up. Gray should be the odd man out.

  4. I really don’t want to root for this douchebag. But hey while we’re at it let’s sign Matt Cooke too!

  5. I kind of like this pick up …. if he comes off the bench and lays the hammer down it should be interesting to watch … plus it’s only a two year deal so not much risk

  6. Why not let Acy loose, instead?

    • Alternate question: why pass up an opportunity to add positive value to the roster? Thinking longer term – adding value, in whatever form, creates options for trading and consolidating into better players down the road.

  7. Can Psycho-T actually guard centers? Seems like Gray may be worth keeping around as a big body with 6 fouls to give against big, physical centers – though I guess there are less and less of them these days. But if we let Gray go, we’re left with only one true center on the roster – Jonas – and he’s a few years away from being savy enough and having a big enough ass to guard a guy like Roy Hibbert for 4 quarters. Or can a combination of Amir (who I know often ends up guarding big guys more than Jonas), Hansbrough (I refuse to call him Psycho-T – can we retire that wanky nickname, please?), Acy, and Jonas hold up on D?

    • Man, I rant about his stupid nickname and then realized I called him that at the beginning of my post. I need to scrub it from my brain.

  8. Joe – the team used part on the mid level ex on TH – but not the bi-annual…what does that mean? Basically I just want to know how much money is left in total to spend for this up coming season – Can you help us out here, boss?

    • The Bi-Annual exception is something I believe capped out teams (but non-tax teams) can use every other year, and for 2013-14 it will be set at $2,016,000. If the Raptors use it this season, they cannot use it again until 2015. It looks like they’ll save it for next summer though.

      After signing Hansbrough for $3 million per year, the Raptors should still have a little over $2 million of their mid-level exception left.

  9. I like where things are headed. There is already substantial change for the better in roster construction. MU is clearly an asset collector in a way that BC never was – adding interesting, tradeable players on reasonable contracts. He’s filling holes without sacrificing flexibility – basically keeping his word that he wants to evaluate what he has with this roster, while still adding value.

    Whereas BC would have chased Korver and Zaza types with the MLE, MU has brought in picks and low salary players *that the rest of the league will see positive value in*. We know he’s a trader, and I’m sure those will come. When it does, it will pay to have a roster stocked with useful players that others want.

  10. Gray is the teams default 13th man. No issue with this signing. It’s a depth move. Look for Linas to be dealt next one way or the other, unless he actually gets healthy next year and returns to his former self. I rather have psycho T on our side ready to deliver a hard foul instead of Gray. Hansbrough can somewhat finish and has better hands than Gray.

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