We Project A Healthy Peja As A Mavs Starter

Peja Stojakovic has been officially waived by the Raptors and has been unofficially gobbled up by the Mavs. Somewhere in this transaction mix is the loss of Alexis Ajinca, too. But at the end, we're darm close to projecting that a healthy Peja might even earn a starting role with the Mavs. Let's go inside the numbers and inside the story:

The Raptors have waived Peja Stojakovic, 33, having engineered a buyout of his $15-million expiring contract. This move makes speculation regarding Peja's league-wide demand look rather foolish – or else Toronto looks foolish for having dumped him thusly.

Starting with a story by Marc Stein of ESPN, part of this dual transaction is the Dallas Mavericks' willingness to, in separate deal with the Raptors, ship Alexis Ajinca to Canada. Something to know here: ‘Lex is a prospect. Heck, just last week he was starting games for this team. His expiring deal and his relationship with the Mavs – Roddy B, Ian Mahinmi, some fellas in the scouting department and GM Donnie Nelson himself are friends – lead us to bet that he'll be back in Dallas this summer.

So ‘Lex gets a new temp team. (The other pieces involved are second-round level "junk,'' as our analyst David Lord likes to call it.) Sasha Pavlovic apparently gets to hang around … and exchange Eastern European jokes with a new mate. And Peja, swapped from the Hornets to the Raptors, gets the departure Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo insists was planned all along.

"We were clear from the beginning that our trade with New Orleans was made with the future in mind, so a buyout or trade of Peja's contract was a likely option," Colangelo said. "Although he did not fit into our plan of developing our young core talent, I'm sure that Peja will add significantly to any veteran team that signs him."

That team is Dallas. And what do the Mavs get?

Let's dig into the numbers:

2009-2010

2008-2009

2007-2008

Plus/Minus

+2.35

+6.95

+9.64

Off P/M

-0.73

+9.85

+12.49

Def P/M

+3.09

-2.90

-2.85

Adj P/M

+4.35

+6.56

+12.82

PER

12.4

12.5

15.7

Pts/36

14.5

14.0

16.8

Rbds/36

4.2

4.5

4.4

Asts/36

1.7

1.3

1.3

Stls/36

0.9

0.9

0.8

Blks/36

0.1

0.1

0.1

TO/36

1.0

0.9

0.8

FG%

0.404

0.399

0.440

3P%

0.375

0.378

0.441

FT%

0.897

0.894

0.929

FTA/36

2.0

1.8

1.9

What do we see?

Peja has astounding plus/minus numbers over the last three years. Despite being in his 30's he has consistently been a very positive force while on the court. Not surprisingly in 08-09 and 07-08 he had very positive offensive plus/minus numbers while having a small negative impact on the defensive end (though some of that might be due to the pace played by the team when he was on the court). Then last year his offensive plus/minus numbers slipped and he had a +3.09 point impact on the defensive end. From our perspective this supports our own Eye Test that Peja is quite capable of being a semi-tenacious defender when he puts forth the effort and has even been effective at harassing our own Dirk Nowitzki.

Peja's PER numbers have slipped the last two seasons due to his slippage in FG%. The last two years more than half his field goal attempts have been from three and so the drop of his three point percentage below 40% is partly responsible. His 37% three point shooting over the last two years is down for him (he is a career 40% three point shooter) but is still a very respectable and productive number.

There are injury issues here that slow our roll. Stojakovic has been in 26-game-long mothballs with a knee problem. But while the three-time All-Star isn't the same player he was during salad days in Sacto and NO, he's a life-time 40.1-percent shooter from 3-point range.

If Peja isn't right, all Dallas just did is essentially swap a fourth-string center for him.

If Peja is right? He's a low-turnover, on-the-court positive, court-spreading 3-point shooter. We wouldn't be surprised if Peja quickly steps into the starting lineup at SF in order that Carlisle can keep Jet and Marion coming off the bench.

You heard us right: Peja could go from the Toronto DNP list to the Mavs starting lineup.

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