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An empirical comparison of Robin Lopez to other centers Portland may have had a reasonable chance to obtain. Final Update - Howard added.


Robin Lopez is judged by many, I feel, not based on empirical evidence but on anecdotal factors such as the "eye test" and a simple lack of hype compared to his peers. I knew nothing about Robin Lopez when we traded for him, and as such I formed my opinion of him based solely on the available data. I've used bits and pieces of that data to defend Robin's acquisition and his likely impact to this team in numerous threads. The following is a thorough and comprehensive comparison of Robin Lopez to other centers Portland may have had a reasonable chance to obtain using per-36, advanced, on-off, and Synergy defensive stats.

I have color coded the players names. Differences are calculated as the absolute value of Robin Lopez’s stats minus the compared player’s stats. The differences are color coded by which player’s stats are better for a given metric.

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The per-36 and advanced stats highlight Robin's well established weakness of individual defensive rebounding compared to his peers. However, they also highlight his comparably superior block rate, fair to good individual offensive rebounding, low turnover rate, and low foul rate. They also show his fair ability to score the ball. Per-36 and advanced stats are probably the weakest reflection of Robin's comparative value. *This remains unchanged with the addition of Gortat and Jordan. **Per-36 and advanced stats are pretty impressive for McGee in this comparison. He's the first to best Robin's block rate. ***Per-36 and advanced stats are also pretty impressive for Koufus. He's very close to Robin's block rate. ****No surprise here, per-36 and advanced make Hickson look good.

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On-off is, I think, one of the areas in which Robin really shines. These stats more than make up for his poor individual defensive rebounding. In fact, with Robin on the floor, his team rebounded the ball a greater percentage of the time on both the offensive AND defensive ends than did any of his peers'. It ultimately doesn't matter that Robin isn't pulling down every defensive rebound himself as long as he is setting his team mates up to collect them. *This remains unchanged with the addition of Gortat and Jordan. ** McGee is the first to best Robin's on-off block percentage, but has the worst impact on team rebounding by far. The gap between he and Robin in team offensive and defensive rebounding is almost 11% in favor of Robin. ***Robin keeps his on-off edge with the addition of Koufus, but not by the landslide he does against others. Koufus is about as close in on-off as Pekovic is. ****On-off is quite telling for Hickson. Despite his great individual rebounding numbers, he's a total wash on overall rebounding. The team will grab the same percentage of rebounds with or without him. He's also a slight negative to overall offensive rating. The opponent scored a bit more and the Blazers scored a bit less with Hickson on the floor.

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According to Synergy, Robin ties with Splitter for best overall defender in this comparison. He is clearly superior to Asik and Kaman, besting the two in most categories by a fair margin. Robin is about a wash with Splitter with each claiming two out of four categories. Robin's toughest comparison is with Pekovic, who claims three out of four categories. However, in one of the categories, post-up defense, Pekovic only slightly edges Robin out. *Robin ranks ahead of both Gortat and Jordan in overall defense, though Robin and Gortat each claim two out of four categories. Between Robin and Jordan, Robin is clearly the superior defender. **Robin ranks ahead of McGee in overall defense and they split the categories taking two of four each. ***There's not a whole to say here. Synergy says Robin annihilates Koufus on defense. ****There's even less to say here. Compared to Robin or not, Hickson is cataclysmically awful on defense.

The available data indicate that Robin Lopez is squarely in the mix with these other centers when it comes to overall impact on total rebounding, defense, and even offense. It is clear from this comparison that the hype of Omer Asik over Robin Lopez, and the vociferous disappointment in Robin's signing, was totally unsupported by the data. Once cap considerations are added to the mix, Robin becomes an even more attractive acquisition.

*This conclusion is only bolstered by the addition of Gortat and Jordan, especially when one considers what we would have had to give up to acquire either of them.

**Again, the addition of another comparison, this time McGee, reinforces the general conclusion that Robin Lopez falls within a fairly tight statistical grouping of younger veteran centers. Spending significantly more in cap space or traded talent to acquire another center in this group would have been highly questionable at best.

***Same general conclusion, but Koufus is definitely an interesting comparison. Both he and Robin have been in the league for five years, they played 81 and 82 games respectively last season, and they're both on bargain contracts given their recent production. If it weren't for Koufus' awful defensive stats I might question us not making a play for him. However, the caveat to that is that Koufus was not a free agent. He changed teams in a trade for a power forward and the rights to a second round draft pick. Who knows if we would have even had the pieces to acquire him; perhaps leverage J.J. in a signed and trade and include Withey like we did for Robin.

****It's interesting to see what kind of upgrade we'll be getting from Robin over Hickson. Their per-36 scoring is basically the same. On-off shows Robin with a slight team offense and huge team rebounding advantage. Synergy should make us weep with joy that it didn't come down to keeping Hickson as our center.

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Here is a Robin to Dwight comparison just for sh*ts and giggles. Dwight appears to have had a J.J.-esque effect on team rebounding, not really grabbing boards that wouldn't have been had without him on the floor. Dwight is a better overall defender. It will be interesting to see these two go head-to-head next season.


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