Why trading Rudy and Outlaw for Prince Makes Sense

This was originally a response to a fan post which responded to Dave's podcast.  A few posters said I should resubmit this as its own fan post, so... Here it is.

A Piston’s fan on another site wanted to know if Portland fans would welcome a trade of Rudy and Outlaw for Prince, Amir Johnson and #15. The trade doesn’t work financially, but the analysis focused only on the impact of Prince, Rudy and Outlaw which does work. Here was my response:

You have to make that trade if you are Portland. It perfectly balances out the roster maximizes the team’s potential.

The initial reaction that many people have is that Portland needs Rudy and Outlaw’s offense in order to be successful. I respectfully disagree. First take a look at the offensive production of Outlaw and Prince (who would take all of his minutes and then some):
Outlaw 27.7min; .453 FG%; .377 3P%; .723 FT%; 4.1 RPG; 1.0 APG; .6 SPG; .7 BPG; 12.8 PPG
Prince 37.7min; .450 FG%; .397 3P%; .778 FT%; 5.8 RPG; 3.1 APG; .5 SPG; .6 BPG; 14.2 PPG

Looking at the players, Prince puts up comparable offensive numbers, but is a bit more efficient in 3P% and FT%. In addition to effectively replacing all of Outlaw’s offensive production, Prince’s defense in place of Outlaw’s would shave a couple PPG off the opposition’s average.

I don’t think that anyone argued that Prince couldn’t replace Outlaw, but it is nice to be thorough. Now on to the part that makes everyone hesitant about making the trade… replacing Rudy Fernandez:

Fernandez: 25.6min; .425 FG%; .399 3P%; .839 FT%; 2.7 RPG; 2.0 APG; .9 SPG; 10.4 PPG

Those are difficult numbers to replace. A very efficient volume 3P shooter who scores 10ppg off of the bench on a team with a slow offense. The benefit of trading both Outlaw and Rudy for Tayshaun Prince is that the trade opens up minutes for other players on a very crowded roster. After the trade, the lion’s share of minutes will go to Martell Webster (who would not be able to play in the rotation next season with Outlaw and Rudy commanding a minimum of 55 minutes together. Compare Webster’s stats (from before his injury to Rudy’s):

Webster: 28.4min; .422 FG%; .388 3P%; .735 FT%; 3.9 RPG; 1.2 APG; .6 SPG; 10.7 PPG
Fernandez: 25.6min; .425 FG%; .399 3P%; .839 FT%; 2.7 RPG; 2.0 APG; .9 SPG; 10.4 PPG

A healthy Martell Webster put up comparable numbers to Rudy Fernandez this season. He is less efficient in 3P% and FT%, but the improvement in defense/rebounding that Webster offers would give Portland comparable production for those minutes. Admittedly, Rudy Fernandez has a higher upside than Webster, I’ll attempt to show how the change in the roster will continue to improve the team through other (post trade) adjustments that the team would likely make after taking into account the overall change in style of play based on the roster changes.

Overall changes in style with new roster:
1. The team relies more on the starting unit than the second unit. Last season, Portland was second in bench scoring and relied heavily on its scorers off of the bench. By adding a legit third option in the starting unit (Prince) Portland will play with their starting unit more than they have in the past.

2. The Blazers become a much better defensive team. Prince immediately becomes the team’s best perimeter defender, replacing Outlaw who was the team’s worst perimeter defender. Martell Webster, the team’s best perimeter defender from two seasons ago retakes his minutes which went to Rudy last season (Portland’s second wing defender.) Portland goes from having one good perimeter defender last season (Batum) to having three good perimeter defenders (Prince, Batum, Webster)

3. Portland’s bench goes from offensive minded to defensive minded. With Prince taking over for Outlaw, he would likely fill Outlaw’s role as the backup PF in a small lineup (if another PF isn’t acquired in the offseason.) That mean’s that the second unit will usually have four above average defenders: Webster (SG) Batum (SF) Prince (PF) and Oden/Przybilla (C). The other obvious difference between the benches is the lack of scoring on the new Blazers bench. Batum and Webster are both good open shooters but don’t often create for themselves. Both Oden and Przybilla are good at put back dunks, but don’t have strong offensive games. If only Portland had a, PG with a scorer’s mentality who could compliment a defensive lineup… oh yeah, his name is Jerryd Bayless.

When Portland had two volume shooters coming off of the bench (Outlaw and Fernandez) it made much more sense to have a distributor at the PG position (Rodriguez) which forced the talented Bayless to the bench. If, however, the second unit is predicated on defense, then it would make sense to put a scorer at PG.

Replacing Sergio with Bayless would improve both the scoring from the PG position (to additionally help offset the loss of Fernandez) and would improve the defense. Bayless’ tiny arms prevent him from being a lock down defender, but he was out best defensive PG last season and would replace our worst (Sergio.)

Replacing Sergio with Bayless would likely bring out the argument that Bayless lacks the PG skills to run the offense. If you believe that, then it is very nice that Tayshaun Prince is a point-forward who ran the offense in Detroit with both AI and Rip next to him. If Bayless isn’t successful attacking the opposition, Tayshaun Prince can run the half court offense. Additionally, since the trade creates a roster that is more predicated on the starting unit, there would likely be no distinct “second unit.” Instead, subs would compliment the roster while maintaining the style of play which means Bayless would likely be on the floor with either Roy or Price who are both capable of running the offense.

After the trade, Portland becomes a much better defensive team, while maintaining most of the offensive efficiency that they had last season by playing Webster and Bayless.

PG: Blake/Bayless
SG: Roy/Webster
SF: Prince/Batum
PF: Aldridge/Prince
C: Oden/Przybilla/

With that lineup, Portland would have the following assets to either (1) Upgrade their starting PG; or (2) acquire a bruiser backup PF: 24th pic; 33rd pic, 38th pick; two late 2nd rounders, Channing Frye S&T; Raef LaFrentz S&T and Sergio Rodriguez.

While it would be complete conjecture to suggest additional trades that could be made, I would think that those desirable assets could lead to trades or draft selections that would fill one or both of those holes in the lineup.

Another benefit of the trade is that the minutes on the new roster allow almost everyone to be happy. Here would be the break down:

Blake (25) Bayless (13) Roy (10, 4th Quarter)
Roy (27) Webster (16) Bayless (5)
Prince (26) Batum (18) Webster (4)
Aldridge (37) Prince (11)
Oden + Przybilla (48, distribution depends on Oden’s improvement/foul trouble)

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