Mining the Pistons Mailbag: Detroit covets Chris Kaman?

Chris Kaman has been a divisive topic here at Detroit Bad Boys. Many have argued that Chris Kaman is an ideal fit for the Pistons. Greg Monroe may be better suited at power forward over the long-term, and he is an apt passer. A scoring big like Kaman may bring out those strengths in Monroe's game. Approaching the 2010-2011 trade deadline, a swap of Prince and Kaman was a common rumor. In a rare situation for the Pistons, the swap seemed to make sense for both trade partners, the contract length and time commitments made sense, and even rarer, the trade would result in each player returning home, presumably to wind down long, successful NBA careers.

Others have argued that Kaman's production is fool's gold, highlighting statistics that measure efficiency rather than totals. By this line of reasoning, Kaman's glaring deficiencies are masked by gaudy points and rebounds per game. In fact, those point totals come at such a high cost in terms of possessions used that Kaman's contributions do more harm than good.

Obviously, the rumored Pistons - Clippers trade never came to fruition, but judging from the Pistons Mailbag, Pistons fans remain interested in Chris Kaman. Twice in the last month, fans have asked about adding Kaman via free agency, and twice, Langlois has affirmed the Pistons interest.

After the jump, I'll take a closer look at Chris Kaman's statistical production over the course of his career to determine if the (presumed) Pistons' pursuit of Kaman makes sense.

On March 22nd, Langlois fielded two separate questions related to Kaman and offered the following responses:

I think the most obvious free-agent target will be Chris Kaman, for the obvious reasons - a Michigan native at a position of need who has expressed interest in coming home.

[...]

As for Kaman, it makes too much sense that both sides would be interested in exploring a fit to think they won't be in touch on or shortly after July 1.

On April 16th, Kaman was once again a topic of conversation, and Langlois reaffirmed the Pistons' interest in Kaman:

Written here before, Dawn, that I think the most likely target for the Pistons in free agency will be Kaman. It's tough to say what it would take to get him. If the Pistons are over the cap, they could offer Kaman the full mid-level exception. Will that be enough to land him? Great, unknowable question at this point. Logic says a 7-footer with his history of productivity and at his age - Kaman turns 30 later this month - would command more than the MLE. But Kaman also has an injury history to consider and we can't yet project what effect the new CBA will have on salaries offered in free agency. Stay tuned.

There are two primary points to tease out here.

The first is that the Pitons appear to view Kaman as a player with a "history of productivity." In other words, he's a good player.

The second is that the Pistons want him, if Langlois' comments are any indicator, and in my view, they generally are.

Obviously, the first statement is the most important; if Kaman is a good player, the Pistons should pursue him and vice versa.

So, is he? Here's a quick visual representation of Kaman's statistical production throughout his career. In my view, these numbers suggest that Kaman should be avoided at all costs - literally, I would be cautious to even invest the veteran's minimum in a thirty year old player with this statical profile.

Kaman-career-stats_medium

Kaman-career-shooting_medium

To summarize, yes, Kaman scores points, and at a better-than-average clip for his position. He's also solid on the defensive glass, and he's a decent shot blocker (without fouling too much), even in his old age. He's also a good free throw shooter, even if he doesn't get there as much as other NBA centers do.

The glaring problem, however, is that Kaman's points come at a very high cost -- poor shooting efficiency and possessions. Kaman scores a lot because he shoots a lot, and he wastes far too many possessions by turning the ball over. Plus, he's going to be 30. He's going to age like milk, not a fine wine.

Plus, I once scored on Kaman in a high school summer league. Is that really the type of player you want protecting the paint? Huh, do you? Do you?!?! I kid, I kid.

As always, sound off in the comments. Do the stats have it wrong about Kaman? Is there something missing from the statistical profile that makes Kaman a viable free agent target? Would playing next to a guy like Monroe - who could facilitate offense for Kaman - help mitigate his turnover problems and boost his shooting percentage?

H/T to the awesome The NBA Geek for the stats.

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