It’s about the time of year when at Cavs:the Blog, I would start scrounging through the remaining free agents, looking for guys that met Cleveland’s needs, likely for the NBA minimum salary.
In summer 2012, wanting the Cavs to get bigger and more athletic, I fell for Derrick Brown. Of course, he never played in the NBA again. He did get invited to San Antonio’s camp, but was axed during their final cuts. At least it was the Spurs; that made me feel somewhat justified. Instead, Brown went to Europe, where with Nick Calathes he lead his Russian team to the Eurocup Championship, getting the squad promoted to the 2013 – 2014 Euroleague. With Calathes departed for the NBA, Lokomotiv finished a very solid ninth in Euroleague play, with Brown leading them in scoring and steals and finishing second in rebounding. So he is the best player on one of the ten best teams in Europe; I have zero doubts that Derrick Brown should be able to play on half the NBA’s teams.
In 2013, longing for wing shooters in Cleveland, my hopes rested on Luke Babbitt. He also headed off to Europe though, where he made a blistering 57% of his threes in the VTB United League and Eurocup, before eventually finding his way to New Orleans. He canned 38% of his threes there, chalking up a tidy RAPM of -0.03 (above average) and SWAgR of 1 in only 500 minutes.
This year, my under the radar target not only for Cleveland, but the entire League, is Josh Harrellson. And this is not only because he responded to one of my tweets yesterday. Long dismissed because of non-prototypical height, now three years through his professional career, consider:
- The esteemed @NBAcouchside has an xRAPM rookie projector. Thanks in part to Harrellson ranking as the 20th best offensive rebounder in the entire NCAA in 2010 – 2011, and also having the 14th best block rate in the SEC, plus 62% true shooting and one steal per game, his projected rookie and third year xRAPM were both -0.3. That is very solid, certainly a projection of an average NBA player.
- Since that time, nothing about his performance in limited minutes has dispelled that projection. If the box score is your thing, his career numbers are 13.4 PER, 0.116 Win Shares per 48 minutes, and 0.104 Wins Produced per 48 minutes (2013 – 2014 only for WP/48). With NBA averages of 15, 0.1, and 0.1, respectively, it is safe to say he has performed as an average NBA player according to the box score.
- If like me you prefer plus-minus regressions, his @talkingpractice 2013 – 2014 RAPM of -0.25 is impressive considering rookies start at -2.4 and he has only played 888 career minutes. That RAPM places him in the top thirty percent of NBA players.
- If combinations of the box score and play-by-play is what you like, Jeremias Engelmann’s xRAPM considered Harrellson the best defensive player on the Pistons last season and among the approximate top 100 of two-way per possession players in the League.
- It is well established that floor-spacing big men are a benefit to NBA offenses. In his NBA career, Harrellson hoists nearly four three-pointers per 36 minutes, making a tidy 35%.
So anyway it’s sliced, Josh Harrellson gives every appearance of being a capable NBA player. A big man that can defend and shoot, and is available for a low cost? That’s a pretty nice package, and it seems NBA teams should be seeking him out as cheap big man depth. Give him a call, NBA Front Offices. He’s probably a nice guy, too; he responded to me on twitter.