Peja: In Search Of More Plus/Minus Greatness

Way back on Jan. 20, we projected Peja Stojakovic as Mavs starter as soon as he was healthy. Well, 'soon' took 17 days. Let's see what the Mavs are getting as Peja is active for tonight's meeting with the Cavs - starting with three years of plus/minus stuff that will surprise you.

Peja Stojakovic, 33, engineered a buyout of his $15-million expiring contract in Toronto and has for the last 17 days been engineering his knees back to good health. The Mavs announced today, in preparation for Cavs-at-Dallas, that Peja is active and ready to go. Coach Rick Carlisle -- as is his wont -- offers no other details.

But in the last two games, the Mavs have started JJB. There is sense to elevating Peja. But in any case, what do the Mavs get here?

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. Indeed, Carlisle has labeled him one of the greatest shooters of all-time.

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 (and Barea, too) coming off the bench.

It's weird, but it may be coming: Peja could go from very end of a bad Toronto team's bench to starting lineup of a Mavs team that is the second best club in the conference.


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