As reported by the media, Aron Baynes has verbally agreed to a contract with the Detroit Pistons which will reportedly be worth as much as $20 million over three years, with a player option for the third year. In a vacuum, the contract may seem like an overpay, but when you consider the other deals being handed out to big men (Robin Lopez is getting close to $13 million per), then it doesn't look that bad at all. But I'm not here to try and convince you that it's a good contract, I'm here to introduce you to the newest Piston, the Big Baynger, Aron Baynes.
Baynes was born in
Mordor Gisborne, New Zealand, on December 9, 1986, meaning he will turn 29 shortly after the start of the NBA season. Despite being a Kiwi by birth and descent, he moved to Australia at a young age (like most New Zealanders do, as aussiepiston rightfully pointed out). His birth city has a small population (just over 35,000), is located on the more-populous North Island (3.5 million population - NZ as a whole is a little over 4 million), and, before Samoa changed its timezone, was the first city in the world to greet the sun each day.
Baynes moved to Australia when he was a baby, and grew up in Far North Queensland in the city of Cairns (population 150,000). Cairns is known around Australia for its farming industry, namely bananas and sugarcane due to its tropical climate. Cairns is also one of the most at-risk cities in Australia for natural disasters such as cyclones and hurricanes, as well as flooding.
Sports-wise, Cairns isn't really known as a hotbed for basketball. The main sports of interest up there are rugby league and cricket, although basketball is growing throughout the country due to the recent successes of Baynes and Patty Mills with San Antonio, Andrew Bogut with Golden State and Matthew Dellavedova with Cleveland.
Baynes played his high school basketball at both Mareeba State HS and Cairns State HS, both in Far North Queensland. Like most Australian professional basketballers, he had a stint at the Australian Institute of Sports in Canberra, in 2005 before going overseas to the States to play four years of college ball at Washington State University. Over his four year career, he averaged 8.7 points and 5.4 rebounds, shooting 55% from the field and 70% from the free throw line. He went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft before signing in Lithuania with Lietuvos Rytas.
Over his European career, Baynes has played not only in Lithuania, but also in Germany with EWE Baskets Oldenburg, Greece with Ikaros Kallitheas, and Slovenia with Union Olimpija. According to Basketball Reference, over his European career, Baynes averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, whilst shooting 53% from the field and 70% from the FT line.
Baynes finally got his NBA chance with the San Antonio Spurs in 2013. He has since appeared in 139 games for the Spurs, including 21 starts, and averaged 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game. However, he is productive in his limited minutes, and has career per 36 minute averaged of 13.6 points and 10.2 rebounds. He also has a greatly improved free throw stroke since entering the NBA, and is a career 84.7% FT shooter, while also shooting 52.1% from the field in his NBA career.
What a lot of people don't know about Aron Baynes is that he has a rather nice offensive skill set for someone pegged as little more than a banger down low. He has a nice post game, especially a hook shot, and can step out and hit midrange jumpers. In 2014-15, 8.9% of his shots came within 10-16 feet of the basket, and he hit them at a 44.8% rate. Between 16 feet and the three point line, he shot 7.3% of his field goal attempts, and hit those shots at an even better 45.8% clip. Just because he has a soft midrange touch, doesn't mean he's a schmuck around the rim either. He is a good finisher, with 55.4% of his shots coming at the rim, converting them at a respectable 63.5% rate.
He does need help on his field goals though. 79.3% of his 2 point field goals last season were assisted, compared to 57.9% for Andre Drummond. The fact that he has a high percentage of assisted shots and a good midrange percentage means that there will likely be good opportunities for a nice midrange pick-and-pop game with Brandon Jennings and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Defensively, Baynes isn't a disaster by any means, he contributed 1.6 defensive win shares last season, but it isn't what he's noted for. He will struggle defending the pick-and-roll, especially if he's forced to switch onto quicker guards, as his frame won't allow him to stay in front of speedsters. However, he can use his burly 6-10, 260 pound frame to hold position in the post, as he is very hard to back down. He isn't much of a rim protector though, for his NBA career only averaging 0.7 blocks per 36 minutes. Therefore, he is a good post defender, but average in other areas. But, if we sign Joel Anthony as well, as anticipated, then we could have a decent backup center combination, with Baynes for offense and Joel Anthony for defense, depending on matchups.
Well, that's the lowdown on the Big Baynger. Don't call him a Kiwi, he doesn't like that, but we can expect him to not only provide good production in limited court time, but a big body for Andre to bang with in practice. Will he be as good as Monroe was? Hell no, not even close, and it's delusional to think so. But he can give you a lite-version of what Monroe can, minus the post game, and he's a proven winner, with an NBA Championship with San Antonio and a couple of trophies in Lithuania.
That's it from me, the designated Aussie breakdown artist.
Welcome Big Baynger!!!
He seems excited for the challenge as well.
Motor City!!— Aron Baynes (@aronbaynes) July 3, 2015