Don’t Expect Nets To Go All-In On Andre Roberson

Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson will enter restricted free agency this summer. But don’t expect Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets to offer him the kitchen sink.

Andre Roberson, a 6′ 7″ shooting guard out of the University of Colorado, has been one name circulated among Brooklyn Nets fans as a potential restricted free agent target.

The third-year pro has been known by many as a lock-down defender, most recently chasing around Houston Rockets star guard James Harden in the first round of the 2017 NBA playoffs.

Roberson has shown an ability to defend at a high level, using his 6’11” wingspan and relatively quick feet to disrupt hard drives to the basket and contest long 2-point jumpers.

He does quite a masterful job here locking down San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in a March 9 contest in Oklahoma City.

After the conclusion of the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s 2016-17 season, Roberson will become a restricted free agent after the Thunder extend a $3.22 million qualifying offer, giving 29 NBA teams an opportunity to tender an offer sheet on the 25-year-old guard.

Despite the defense, Roberson is another example of a player Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks would define as a free agent that caps your payroll out to merely become a 25-win team.

According to FiveThiryEight’s CARMELO System (Career-Arc Regression Model Estimator with Local Optimization) which, in theory:

“identifies similar players throughout NBA history and uses them to develop a probabilistic forecast of what a current NBA player’s future might look like,” projects Roberson‘s 5-year market value at $70.3 million ($14.06/year) and categorizes him as a “rotational player.”

The basics of CARMELO are the same as last year. We’ve run projections for 485 veterans and 82 rookies. The system identifies historical comparables since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976 to project the career path of today’s players. LeBron James‘s top comparable is Larry Bird, for instance, while the system likens Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram to Andrew Wiggins.

When breaking down weighted averages over the past three seasons, Roberson’s true-shooting percentage is an average 55 percent, but his usage in the Oklahoma City offense puts him in the 9th percentile among similar players.

Defensively, nothing extraordinary stands out, as his rebounding, block, and steal percentages are at near average or slightly above average.

FiveThiryEight does recognize his excellent defensive +/- at a plus-1.6.

The most interesting part about the FiveThiryEight project is their comparison list, taking Roberson’s data to date and matching it up to past and present NBA players that relatively fit a similar body of work combined with wins above replacement.

The highest on the similarity scale for Roberson (at 43/100), is Quincy Pondexter, followed by Jared Dudley (42), and Aaron Afflalo (42).

But, does it make sense for the Brooklyn Nets to offer him the $15 million-plus he’ll command in restricted free agency? Don’t expect Marks and the Nets front office to do so.

In comparison to what the Nets may call their best perimeter defender, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, his projected value over the course of the next three seasons is $13.4 million in 2017-18, $16.0 million in 2018-19 and $18.5 million in 2019-20.

This attaches a value based on forecasting player development over-time, in what seems to be a confident model for the Arizona product’s growth.

Compare that to Roberson’s $13.4 million, $14.5 million and $16.0 million respectively and you have a much better value developing Hollis-Jefferson than paying Roberson.

Hollis-Jefferson is set to make $1.45 million in 2017-18, then the Nets have a $2.45 million team option is 2018-19, followed by their qualifying offer (making Hollis-Jefferson a restricted free agent) of $3.59 million in 2019-20.

It’s worth noting Marks will surely go the development route in-house rather than pay Roberson this offseason, when according to FiveThirtyEight, Hollis-Jefferson garners more value at the position at his rookie cap hit than an overpaid Roberson for what will surely be a 4-year deal.

However, this alone doesn’t eliminate the Nets from restricted free agency. They did make a run at Miami Heat‘s Tyler Johnson and Portland Trail BlazersAllen Crabbe last summer.

But, Marks will only use it if they believe there’s more within a player’s arsenal, allowing head coach Kenny Atkinson to use his development-focused mindset to tap into untapped potential of a player.

Marks spoke openly about the Nets various needs across the board, but will only seek restricted free agency if he sees the ability for a player to skyrocket under Atkinson’s wing.

With the playoffs in full swing, Marks will be leaving no stone unturned as he prepares for his second offseason with the Brooklyn Nets.

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