Heading into Thursday’s draft is was becoming more and more obvious that the Wolves were going to the deal the 18th pick. They had very little activity with most of the draft prospects projected to go in that part of the draft and coach Rick Adelman had stated at the end of the season that he was tired of the work ethic of many of the younger players on the team. One of his desires in the offseason was to bring in some veteran talent via a trade or free agency that didn’t need to be coddled along as they adjust to the NBA style of play. He seemed to be sick of the careless attitudes of Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, and Darko Milicic to name of few. Coincidentally, all those players could be gone by next season. The team didn’t waste any time jumping into the offseason Tuesday by making its first move in trading the 18th pick in 2012 draft for swingman Chase Bundinger and Israeli forward Lior Eliyahu.
This move seemed to have many people scratching their head at first. Fans had wanted the Wolves to take a high upside prospect in Thursday’s draft, maybe even get lucky enough for a player like Austin Rivers or Terrence Ross to fall to them by. At pick 18, it is never a guarantee that you will get even a serviceable player at that slot, let alone a starter or even a star. Historically in draft, the 18th selection on average has produced a bust over half the time. And if the player isn’t a bust, it is more likely that he is just a role player than a starter or star.People need to realize that for every Marc Jackson, Joe Dumars, David West, Ty Lawson, and JaVale McGee — all players taken at 18th in the past — there are even more Oleksiy Pecherov’s, John Wallace’s, Marco Bellineli’s, Jason Collins’, and Chris Anstey’s. Collectively the 18th pick has a career average of 18 mpg and 7 ppg with .075 WP48. So for those thinking that this 18th pick was going to change the team’s fortune, they were putting hope in the wrong place. Also, people hardly trusted David Kahn with selections in past lotteries, I can’t imagine them trusting him with a pick when all the consensus guys are taken and it becomes harder to identify talent.
One thing that should make Wolves fan happy though, is that this trade has Rick Adelman’s signature all over it. Budinger was drafted by Adelman back in the 2009 draft and played two season under Adelman before he left at the end of the 2011 season. Adelman has been around a longtime, he knows what he is doing, he knows who fits into his offense. So if you want to get mad at anyone, just know the person who should be mad isn’t David Kahn, it is Rick Adelman, and personally I don’t think he deserves to be criticized for anything right now.
Budinger is as cheap as cheap can get, next season he is owed just $924,293. Based on how Budinger has played throughout his young career, he is worth a lot more than a million dollars. Last season Budinger produced over three wins. To put that in perspective, The Wolves had just three players produce over three wins last year — Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, and Ricky Rubio. I know that it is not saying much, but Budinger is an instant upgrade over what the team was trotting out at small forward last season.
Chasing the Numbers
On the surface, Chase Budinger looks like a clown. Digging deeper though, it becomes evident the kid has got some game…compared to the rest of the wings on the Wolves roster.
Looking at the chart above, two things are very clear. The Wolves wings were terrible and Budinger suddenly becomes the best one on roster, hands down. Budinger was the only player to produce a WP48 over .100 as well as a solid net PER (player’s PER – opponents PER). He only played 22 minutes a game last season — the same number as Wes Johnson — one would have to think that he sees a bump in his minutes next season.
Budinger can also shoot the basketball pretty well. The following table shows the shooting numbers for swingmen last season on jump shots taken 15 feet and beyond (200 FGA min.).
Heading into the offseason, the Wolves needed spot-up shooters, well that is what they got with Budinger. In terms of possession usage, Budinger took almost the same amount spot-up possessions as Wes Johnson did. He also took almost one seventh of the Rocket’s spot-up shots last season. The only difference between Budinger and Johnson, is that Budinger’s shots went in a lot more often. He produced a solid 1.07 point per possession (PPP) ranking in the top-60 of all NBA players. Budinger would have had the highest spot-up three-point percentage on the Wolves last season, posting a very good 42.8% on spot-up threes. If you think that was a fluke, the dude is a 39.6% (200-505) spot-up three-point shooter for his career (Click here for more of Budinger’s career Synergy stats). Budinger was almost as effective as the Wolves best wing player last season, point guard Luke Ridnour. He shoots a lot of wide open shots, he makes a lot of those wide open shots, playing with Ricky Rubio will get him more wide open shot. I think he will be just fine going forward.
In terms of defense, Budinger is an average defender, who doesn’t really the quickness to guard NBA shooting guards, but he does decent enough to stay on the floor against small forwards. He doesn’t do much in terms of taking charges, blocking shots, or getting steals.
By the way, Budinger is younger than by about 10 months Wes Johnson. That has got to make feel Wes good about himself. The number four pick just two years ago could be replaced by a younger more efficient version of the player he was supposed to be like. Sorry Wes your days as a Wolf may be numbered.
Don’t be surprised if Kahn deals him on trade night, just like Jonny Flynn was last year.