Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pistons Agree to Deal with Aron Baynes

The Pistons have reached an agreement on a three year deal with former San Antonio Spurs reserve C Aron Baynes.  The rumored deal is for 3 years and $20M, with a player option on the third season.  However, that doesn't appear to be set in stone, as Vincent Ellis is reporting that the deal could change depending on how much cap space the Pistons have remaining.  More to come later tonight, or, at the latest, tomorrow.

Aron Baynes
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
FTr
FT%
BLK/36
2013-14
3.0
9.7
17.1%
46.7%
16.6%
13.6%
19.4%
.129
90.5%
0.4
2014-15
6.6
15.9
19.2%
61.8%
16.1%
11.2%
20.7%
.318
86.5%
0.7
Career
4.8
13.6
17.8%
56.7%
16.0%
11.8%
19.9%
.260
84.7%
0.7

Baynes went from little-used and unproductive in 2013-14 to slightly more used and surprisingly solid in 2014-15.  It's not often that you see a player make a major leap in efficiency in the same year that he's exposed to a bigger role, but that's exactly what happened with Baynes last year.  I'm going to chalk that up to the Spurs effect, but I also think that San Antonio used him in ways that fit his game; more on that below.  Focusing on his most recent run, Baynes was an efficient scorer, getting to the free throw line somewhat regularly and converting 57% of his two-point attempts.  He's an adequate, if unspectacular rebounder, and doesn't do much in the way of shot blocking.  While he's not much of a shot blocker, Baynes had a good season protecting the rim.  Opponents only shot 48.4% against Baynes at the rim in 2014-15, which ranked 30th out of 98 players with as many or more opp. FGA (4.5) per game.  It makes sense that Baynes will be backing up a player who is notorious for being hacked to take him out of the game; he's a spectacular free throw shooter for his size.  Also, for what it's worth, Baynes averaged a very solid 16.8 PPG and 7.0 RPG for Australia in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Baynes' offensive play-type stats provide some really encouraging details about what he could offer the Pistons off the bench:

Play Type
Possessions
PPP Scored (Rank)
Putbacks
60
0.92 (69/81)
PnR Roll Man
87
1.16 (10/77)
Post Up
48
1.02 (11/117)
Cut
127
1.31 (8/52)
Spot Up
30
0.70 (328/365)

In what's not a small amount of possessions, Baynes was extremely solid in pick-and-roll situations, which figures to be how the Pistons butter their bread this season.  In case you didn't know, the Pistons had four of the five most heavily used PnR ball-handlers in the league last season.  That doesn't figure to change this year, considering the PG that Stan Van Gundy acquired and inked to a big deal thrives in the set.  Having Baynes should allow the Pistons to freely sub out Drummond in the case of foul trouble or hacking, without seeing a dramatic drop in the ability of their C to set the table for the pick-and-roll.  Outside of that, Baynes was great in cut situations and pretty good in post up scenarios, although the sample size is far from adequate in the latter setting.

Defensively, the play-type stats don't really tell us a whole lot: he didn't have many possessions in any of the main categories:

Play Type
Possessions
PPP Allowed (Rank)
Isolation
48
0.88 (119/184)
PnR Roll Man
27
0.67 (15/131)
Post Up
105
0.78 (18/59)
Spot Up
54
0.69 (3/340)

The one situation where there is something to go off of is probably the most important.  Baynes was good against opposing post up scorers.  He's big and strong, so holding his ground shouldn't be much of an issue.  He could struggle against players who can take advantage of elite vertical athleticism, because Baynes plays his game close to the floor at both ends of the floor.  As mentioned above, Baynes was very good at defending the rim for San Antonio in the 2014-15 season.  If he can keep that up for the next two or three years, Detroit is going to love his game off the bench behind Andre Drummond.

While the contract that Baynes received is worthy of some criticism (the player option is the part that I don't like), you can't fault Stan Van Gundy for seeing how well he would fit into the team's goals.  He's a productive PnR screener, would provide an excellent free throw shooting alternative to Drummond in close games, and appears to be, at worst, a solid rim protector.  The deal looks like an overpay now, but Baynes had a seriously undervalued season for the Spurs in 2014-15.  If Detroit gets that same player for the next two years, I wouldn't be shocked if Baynes didn't pick up his player option for the 2017-18 season.  There's serious value, especially for the Pistons, in a guy like Baynes who's able to be a catalyst for basketball's simplest play.  With Stan Van Gundy looking to run his offense around the pick-and-roll, both with the starters and off the bench, I like "Baynes the player".  It's yet to be seen whether he can produce like he did last year, and make me come to terms with "Baynes the contract".  Either way, Baynes is an upgrade for the Pistons at the backup C position, when compared to Joel Anthony.  Plus, you can't argue with a guy nicknamed The Baynger.

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