Pistons’ bench is costly, but it’s producing more than expected for its price

The Pistons’ bench has been a source of pride this season for many fans and PistonPowered commenters. Although almost everything else has been crumbling around the team, Detroit has two Sixth Man of the Year candidates.

Some observers – ahem, Laser – have been quick to point out, with as much money as the Pistons are spending on their bench, it should be good.

So, let’s dig a little deeper and try to quantify the Pistons’ bench’s production compared to its cost – its value.

Methodology

We’ve come a long way with advanced stats, but it seems bench impact is the last frontier. When discussing a bench, even the smartest NBA fans tend to jump right to bench points.

I wanted to go deeper than that. Unfortunately, publicly available resources are limited. The best available option is hoopstats.com’s Efficiency Recap Difference.

Efficiency Recap Difference = Efficiency Recap – Opponent’s Efficiency Recap

NBA Efficiency recap = ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) – ((Field goals attempts – Field goals made) + (Free throws attempts – Free throws made) + Turnovers))

It’s not perfect, but I think the stat provides an accurate enough picture. It’s certainly better than bench points.

Bench salary is based on a starting lineup with everyone healthy. The idea is to see how teams are designed.

So, a player whose salary counts toward the bench might contribute statistics as a starter. For example,  Jason Maxiell’s and Austin Daye’s stats count for starters when they start in place of injured Jonas Jerebko, but Maxiell’s and Daye’s salaries count as bench salary. Jerebko counts toward starting salary, even though he hasn’t played this year.

Cost

The Pistons have the league’s second-highest-paid bench, behind the Pacers.

In terms of percentage of total team salary, the Pistons’ bench salary falls to fourth – behind the Pacers, Wizards and Timberwolves.

Playing time

The Pistons’ bench players see 42.83 percent of Detroit’s minutes, second only to Cleveland.

As much as Detroit pays its bench players, they play more than expected compared to other NBA teams’ bench players.

Production

Again, as much as Detroit pays its bench players, they play better than expected compared to other NBA teams’ bench players. Unfortunately, the Pistons’ bench players’ minutes are better than their production (both relative to salary), but both are solid.

Conclusion

Detroit pays its bench players a lot of money, which makes sense. The Pistons are rebuilding, and spreading its payroll among more than five players increases their chances of finding solid pieces to build with.

Thankfully, while spending so much money on their bench, the Pistons are getting quality production from it.

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Tags: Austin Daye Ben Gordon Charlie Villanueva Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Tracy McGrady Will Bynum

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