1. Terry Porter
- Porter is a weird mix of peak and longevity. He played 35k minutes, with 13 different seasons posting higher than a +1 OBPM, and 9 different seasons posting higher than a +2 OBPM. And he retained fair value even late in his career, posting back-to-back +4 AuRPM seasons for the Spurs at the turn of the century. He's 55th in offensive win shares all-time, and 45th in VORP all-time. Most metrics really like Porter; he's more than one standard deviation above the mean in both PIPM and VORP, and his win shares and BackPicks ratings are still well above average.
Porter was a weird sort of tweener-guard. He rarely posted higher than league average usage rates, but made up for it with efficiency (consistently scoring in the +4 to +6% range) passing well (assist% in the 25-35% range) and being a fair ballhawk (ten different seasons at 2%+ steals). His seven-year peak:
19.9% Usage, +4.5% rTS, 30.5% Ast, 2.2% Steals, 15.4% TO, +3.3 OBPM, +3.9 BPM
It's good, but not great (though again, it's a strong peak combined with a lot of longevity). But in the playoffs he got better. For his nine-year playoff peak (89-97):
20.2% Usage, +7.3% rTS, 26.1% Ast, 1.6% Steals, 12.2% TO, +4.5 OBPM, +4.8 BPM
So in the playoffs (and in fairness, I'm taking slightly different years), Porter slowed as a distributor and grew into an extremely efficient scorer. A nine-year playoff peak with an OBPM at +4.5? That's pretty nice. I'll give you a hint on this; McHale didn't have a nine-year playoff peak at that level (though select seasons were certainly better).
Regular season Terry Porter? He was a strong player with a decently long career and a good peak. But playoff Terry Porter? Playoff Terry Porter was *really* good. Do you know how many players increase both usage and shooting against playoff defenses? Not a lot of them. But Terry Porter is absolutely on that list.2. Draymond Green
- Draymond is a weird player to evaluate. Normally I'm big on longevity and Draymond is still playing. But his peak (by certain metrics) was crazy. He's an insane ceiling raiser, like Ben Wallace but better. And unlike the Ben Wallace argument "Yeah, but having him kills your offense" you really can't argue that for Draymond. Because he was on a lot of extremely strong offenses. He wasn't a great scorer by a long shot, but he was an outstanding passer. A lot of people don't realize that Draymond often averaged more Assists/100 than Curry did (the two were neck and neck during their peak years). So despite not being a good scorer (and he was okay, averaging around league average shooting on high teens usage) he actually tended toward being a net positive on offense from all the impact data we have. And his ability to play a hyper-aware long-armed center in a lineup of all athletic wings (and Curry) transformed the Warriors. I'm not making any argument that Green is as valuable to the Warriors as Curry was. But his AuRPM numbers actually come out looking really close to Curry, and in 2017 were above Durant in both AuRPM and RAPM.
The Warriors from 2015 to 2018 were four of the best teams ever and every impact metric we have suggests that Draymond was a very close 2nd in value on three of them. Unlike shot-blocking bigs like Embiid and Gobert, Draymond's defensive value tends to go up
in the playoffs. Because smart switchability is a serious asset in playoff defense and Draymond has that as well as anyone.
Do I have him too high here? Maybe. His 2016 PIPM kind of broke my metric. But the impact metrics scream that he was one of the most valuable players in the league during his peak.
Was he a crap floor-raiser? Definitely. And if you like floor-raisers or wins-added, then Draymond is probably far lower on your list.
But we have to make our peace with the fact that he may have been one of the greatest ceiling-raisers ever. And there's some serious value there. From a CORP point of view, he has a pretty respectable argument. #3. Kyle Lowry
- This may seem incongruous, but Kyle Lowry has some pretty strong selling points. His career has actually been quietly impressive. He's got four different 10+ Win Share seasons and over 30k career minutes. He's got four seasons above 4.5 VORP. Did you know that of all active NBA players he's currently 11th in Win Shares and VORP? These are respectably impressive stats. But would you believe that Kyle Lowry's impact metrics are outstanding? He put up a +4.5 AuRPM in 2014, a +4.6 AuRPM in 2015, a +6.5 in 2016 (10th in the league) and a +6.3 in 2017 (6th). His RAPM in 2018 (including playoffs) was 6th in the league (ESPN's RPM has him #1), ESPN's RPM has him 5th in 2019 and it has him 6th in 2020. By Impact metrics, Kyle Lowry's been a Top 10 player in the league for the past five years.
How is this possible? After all, Lowry is a good offensive player but not great. He's pretty consistently in the low 20s for usage and his shooting was only around +3 or +4 in his five-year peak. How good can he be? But he's also a weirdly quality rebounder. Kyle Lowry may be the best rebounding six footer ever (not a huge claim to fame, but still). He has eight different seasons at 7% TRB or higher, while no other six footer has more than 4. You could argue that he's a rebound-chaser, but his impact metrics suggest that isn't the case. He's a strong floor spacer (half his shots are threes and he made them at 38% over the last ten seasons) and a strong passer (passer ratings at 6.5 or higher from Ben Taylor). I won't argue that he has the offensive impact of a Lillard (though he surely has more longevity). But unlike Lillard, Lowry is a strong defender, generally considered an underrated team defender with a knack for drawing charges. And if he's an actual plus on defense (as most metrics consider him) that means he doesn't need to be as good on offense for the same level of impact.
Has he struggled in the playoffs historically? Yes. But no more than Lillard has, and Dame has been getting a fair amount of love in these votes. And recently Lowry has turned it around in the postseason, posting the 4th best RAPTOR-WAR in the '19 playoffs (+6.6 average) and 5th best in the '20 playoffs (+9.3).
Like Porter, like a lot of guys I champion, he's not super-sexy. But he's had a long career and a strong peak. Instead of being an all-offense chucker he's good at everything, and was a key piece in leading the Raptors to their first ever NBA title. Maybe he deserves some love too.
Terry Porter > D.Green > Kyle Lowry > Eddie Jones > Bellamy > Z.Beaty > Jokic > A.Kirilenko > M.Cheeks > B.Walton > P.George > LaMarcus Aldridge > Webber > Sikma > A.Iguodala > Schrempf > G.Williams > Lucas > A.Hardaway > D.DeBusschere > J.Butler > M. Johnson > B.King > D.Johnson > C.Hawkins > M.Price > C.Mullin > N.Johnston > K.Irving > K.Thompson > Archibald