Why Gooden Fits

I guess it’s Drew Gooden day at ProjectSpurs. Michael wrote about the Spurs possibly picking him up, and Shawn showed our poll that revealed ProjectSpurs readers most want Gooden. Now it’s time to take a closer look at what Gooden could bring to the team. I’ll be using 82games.com and basketball-reference.com for my information.


When I first heard Gooden’s name thrown around, I was not overjoyed. First, he went to Kansas and I’m here at Missouri, so that’s never good. Also, he has that silly beard. I had other reasons beyond my petty dislike for KU, though. Gooden is a 6’10” power forward, but he has never stood out to me as a significant low post presence. Let’s start on the offensive end. Gooden has the tendency to fall in love with his jump shot. During his time with the Chicago Bulls this season, 49% of Gooden’s shots were jump shots. That is not too large of a number when compared with the 58% of Duncan. However, Gooden’s effective field goal percentage on those jump shots is an underwhelming 32.7%. For comparison when it comes to jump shots, Kurt Thomas has an eFG% of 45.8%, Duncan 43.7%, Bonner 65.7% and Oberto 38.9%. 

He also is not known as a stellar defender. Gooden rarely steals the ball or blocks shots. His career high is 0.9 bpg and 0.9 spg. His career Defensive Rating, which calculates points per 100 possessions, is a respectable 104. It’s not a great number, but it is ok. The Spurs were rumored to almost complete a trade for Marcus Camby, who would fit the shot blocking center the Spurs once had with David Robinson and to some degree Rasho Nesterovic. Gooden is not a shut down defender and won’t create many turnovers.

Now, after all of those criticisms, you’re probably wondering why I think Gooden fits with the Spurs. Despite all those limitations and drawbacks, Gooden would instantly help the Spurs on the boards and provide another double-digit scorer. Most importantly, he spent three and a half seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers under former Spurs assistant Mike Brown.

When looking at Gooden’s career, his best seasons came with the Cavaliers. He recorded his three highest PER’s (19.7, 17.6 and 16.5), his three best DRtg (102, 104, 100), his three highest Win Shares (8.4, 6.5, 6.4), his three highest ORtg (112, 112, 107) and his three highest Total Rebound Rate (17.6%, 18.1%, 17.7%).

I am drawn to three numbers in particular, his DRtg, ORtg and TRB%. While Gooden is not a great individual defender, he posted his best defensive ratings while with the Cavs, who have a similar defensive philosophy to the Spurs. They play a slower style that emphasizes strong post defense and limiting the three point shot. Gooden obviously had his best defensive season in that system, which indicates that he could assimilate the the Spurs system easily. He also had his best offensive ratings, which calculates points produced per 100 possessions. Gooden recorded his highest field goal percentages during his three seasons in Cleveland but has seen his percentage drop since moving to Chicago. I attribute decline to his surroundings. In Cleveland he played for a contender with LeBron James at his side. In Chicago he played for a dysfunctional group lacking identity and leadership. It was easier for him to lose focus on the offensive end and take poor shots. Finally, his total rebound rate would be second on the Spurs. Total rebound rate estimates the percentage of available rebounds that a player grabs while on the floor. Gooden currently has a TRB% of 16.9% and a career high of 18.1%. For comparison, Duncan currently is at 18.1% and Thomas is at 16.6%.

While Gooden probably isn’t the piece that pushes the Spurs past the Lakers, Cavs or Celtics, he is an upgrade over the other Spurs big men. Bonner has been a pleasant surprise so far, but he doesn’t provide the rebounding that Gooden can, which is so important in the playoffs. Thomas has had a nice season too actually, but he is 36 while Gooden is 27, which is a significant difference. Gooden also has playoff experience. I believe his time with Cleveland makes it easier for Gooden than most players to join the Spurs mid season because he developed in a similar style of play.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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