Larry Sanders made great strides during the 2012-2013 season. Fans of the Milwaukee Bucks will have the pleasure to watch him build on those improvements, as he officially signed a 4 year, $44 Million extension this week, locking him in through the 2017-2018 season. I know many will say the Bucks are simply overpaying for another middling player, but that ignores that this is the going rate for starting centers:

  • Brook Lopez, 4 years, $60.8 million
  • DeAndre Jordan, 4 years, $43 million
  • JaVale McGee, 4 years, $44 million
  • Nicola Pekovic, 5 years, $60 million
  • Serge Ibaka, 4 years, $49.4 million
  • Roy Hibbert, 4 years, $58.4 million
  • Tyson Chandler, 4 years, $58 million

I think that list shows that the Bucks paid market value for Sanders, with an opportunity to see some real value. In particular, focus on the end of that list. Chandler is known as an elite defensive center, but who has real offensive value as an elite roll man on pick and rolls. That is the type of player Sanders should, and can, strive to become. He already has the defensive side, any Bucks fan knows this already, and has garnered some national attion, like this paper Kirk Goldsberry presented at this years Sloan Sports Conference. As for Sanders’ offensive game, check out Zach Lowe’s excellent piece here .

To summarize Lowe’s breakdown, Sanders converts well as the roll man and does find the open man at a decent clip, but doesn’t draw many fouls and when he does he isn’t a great free throw shooter. I do feel optimistic that Sanders will make some of these improvements, as he already has cut down on fouls(duh) and that he was able to improve his FT% a good deal last year with more consistent attempts due to increased playing time. This same trend can be found when looking at his stats from VCU. In fact, combing these 6 years of data, there is a 0.81 correlation coefficient between the number of FTA and FT%. I would hypothesize that this is due to Sanders developing a better rhythm to his free throw shooting when he gets to the line more, which bodes well for future improvement.

All in all, the Bucks locking their defensive anchor was a solid first step in trying to build a team without the benefit of a high lottery pick, as the Indiana Pacers have down. While I am a proponent of the complete tear down for this franchise, that is likely impossible due to Herb Kohl’s unwillingness to go through a tank job, especially while trying to get a new stadium built in Milwaukee.


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