Charlotte Bobcats Trade No. 2 for Rudy Gay? Statistics Say Otherwise

Nick FarnsworthAnalyst IJune 11, 2012

The Bobcats Need to Improve by Adding Talent
The Bobcats Need to Improve by Adding Talent

There have been rumors (via Hoopsworld) circulating the NBA that the Charlotte Bobcats may be interested in trading their No. 2 pick in this year's NBA Draft for Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay.

It seems that Michael Jordan may be entertaining the idea of acquiring the 25-year-old small forward's strong offensive skills in an attempt to dramatically change the face of the Bobcats who have been near abysmal the last few seasons. However, the Bobcats should wait before jumping at such a deal since statistics indicate that the attractive move may not be the most beneficial in the long-term for the Bobcats. 

Rudy Gay is a very talented forward capable of putting up 19.0 point per game on 45.6%, as well as adding 6.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals. He is starting to mature defensively and has the tools to possibly turn into a strong defender in the next few seasons.

He posts a player efficiency rating (PER) close to 18.0 every year that places him in the category of a very good second option for a team. He would instantly improve the offense of the Bobcats and possibly boost them to be more competitive in the NBA.

However, there is some downside to Gay, as he averages 2.5 turnovers a game and demands a rather high salary that would take up over $53 million in cap space spread over the next three years. Gay may also not be able to attract other players the way Jordan is hoping, and he may put the team in the lower middle of the NBA, leading to a lack of high draft picks and improvement.

Further statistical analysis of the 20-year period between 1989 and 2008 suggests that the No. 2 pick may be a better bet than rolling the dice on Rudy Gay. 

Over the past twenty years, the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, on average, has become a star-caliber player in the league.

In fact, 85% of the No. 2 picks have turned out to be solid players and starters in the NBA, playing at a level similar to that of Rudy Gay today. In a trade for Rudy Gay, you get a 100% chance of having a solid second option on a team, but the No. 2 pick only turned out to be a significant downgrade from Gay 15% of the time.

The 60% chance of drafting a star should be enough to turn the Bobcats away from the idea of acquiring Gay, but if that's not enough a look at the PERs will help tell a better story. 

The No. 2 pick has an expected PER after a few years in the league of 18.75, which is statistically different enough from Gay's average of under 18.00 to be considered a step above the young small forward. Therefore, the Charlotte Bobcats should avoid trading the No. 2 pick for Rudy Gay and consider improving their future by taking a risk on drafting a young and talented player that could develop into a star. 

The next question that the Bobcats face is whether or not to trade the No. 2 pick to any other teams for other players or draft picks. Another rumor that has surfaced (via ESPN) is the desire of Cleveland to move up in the draft, and Cleveland may be willing to part with not only their No. 4 pick but also there No. 24 pick in order to land the player they want.

The deal would make sense from both sides as Cleveland is looking for particular position players and moving up will allow them to draft for need, while the Bobcats just need talent. Charlotte would actually lose very little by switching the No. 2 pick for the No. 4 pick, as historically players picked fourth overall in the NBA have done just as well in the league (60% chance of drafting a star, 30% solid player and starter, and 10% role player).

In fact, the predicted PER of a player picked at No. 4 is 18.9, which statistically can be seen as having a very strong chance of the No. 2 and No. 4 pick having the same PER. 

History seems to indicate that the Charlotte Bobcats would do themselves a favor by avoiding trading the No. 2 pick for Rudy Gay, and instead trade down in the draft in order to get two talented players in the first round.

In this draft, it seems to be a decent move as there is not a huge talent difference in the early draft picks except at the top spot. If they can move down and gain an extra first round pick, the Bobcats may be able to set themselves up to become competitive in the league within the next few seasons.