Is Aron Baynes a NBA starter?

baynes

After Andre Drummond went down with an ankle injury, Aron Baynes was inserted into the lineup for the match on November 14. While this isn’t the first time in his career that he has begun from tipoff, this particular meeting highlighted the impact that Baynes could have if given the required playing time to do so.

In his match against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Aussie backup center saw a career high 34 minutes where he collected 20 points and 8 rebounds while being perfect from the line and shooting 61.5% from the field.

This type of performance led to an interesting comment from head coach and president of basketball operations of the Detroit Pistons, Stan Van Gundy:

“He’s a starting center in the NBA,” Van Gundy said.

“He’s just playing behind an All-Star. When you look around at all the starting centers and Aron’s a starting center, a starting-caliber center in this league.”

With Baynes ability to opt out this year and become a free agent, the question now becomes can Aron Baynes actually be a starting center for a team in the NBA.

Before a look into the numbers, it can be seen that one glaring weakness is athleticism. With many of the starting centers (Drummond, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard) being quite athletic in their position, it could be seen that Baynes could have a difficult time keeping up with his more athletic counterparts.

However what he does possess is the ability to be the perfect screener for pick and roll offense. His screens are one of the toughest to defend in the league, and has the ability to catch a variety of passes while rolling to the rim.

This would make him the perfect big man option for multiple teams as he doesn’t demand the ball, however knows how to play the perfect pick and roll offense. Imagine him on the Bucks, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Matthew Dellavedova or even a team like Portland where he would be able to play strong defense in the middle while also giving Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum an option during pick and rolls.

On offense alone, it can be seen that he has the ability to be the perfect center in starting teams.

However a strong defensive player who can gather the rebound is what is most craved in today’s NBA.

A look into the numbers shows in this aspect, Baynes is ready to be a starting NBA center.

Per 36 minutes he is averaging a near double double with 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds. Furthermore he is doing it shooting a respectable 53.2% and a superb 78.9% from the line. With some of the big names in the NBA shooting around 50% or worse from the line, his numbers would be loved by some executives as he can be relied upon late in games.

A look further into his numbers highlights his skills in a much clearer picture.

He currently has the 10th best defensive rating when compared to the other starting centers with a 94.1 rating.

DEFENSIVE RATING PTS REB FG% FT% +/- Defensive Rating Net Rating
Jordan (LAC) 12.2 14.9 57.8 44.3 18.4 88.8 26
Bogut (DAL) 5.7 14.5 44.4 0 1.8 91.3 5.6
Baynes (DET) – Starter stats 21.4 8.6 61.5 100 7.5

 

92.3 5.8
Hibbert (CHA) 19.2 10.9 60 100 1.4 93.1 9.7
Baynes – Season Stats 11.9 8.4 53.2 78.9 4.0

 

94.1 2.1
M. Plumlee (MIL) 7.9 6.3 42.9 66.7 -0.2 95.3 8.5
Adams (OKC) 10.8 9.4 50.5 88.5 7.7 95.4 7.8
Howard (ATL) 18.8 15.7 62.2 49.3 3.7 96.3 6.5
Whiteside (MIA) 19.8 17.3 53.6 59.6 -0.8 97.5 -0.4
Asik (NOP) 6.3 13.0 45.0 55.6 1.8 97.7 -4.7
Gobert (UTA) 11.6 12.4 60.3 61.9 10.0 98.5 12.9
Horford (BOS) 14.7 6.5 55.6 66.7 8.1 99.7 12.3
Turner (IND) 18.9 9.3 54.4 76.7 1.5 100.2 3.7
Chandler (PHO) 9.2 15.9 69.7 64.7 0.6 102.6 1.9
Vucevic (ORL) 14.4 14.3 42.8 44.0 -4.1 103.3 -6.7
M. Gasol (MEM) 21.0 6.5 42.9 76.5 1.0 103.4 0.4
Gortat (WAS) 12.1 13.0 57.7 71.0 0.0 103.4 -1.3
Thompson (CLE) 7.2 12.7 65.9 38.1 3.9 103.5 4.7
R. Lopez (CHI) 12.5 10.0 45.1 66.7 3.8 103.5 2.3
Nurkic (DEN) 15.8 12.6 47.3 59.5 -3.9 103.9 -6.0
Capela (HOU) 15.8 13.3 60.2 42.3 4.4 104.0 7.3
P. Gasol (SAS) 16.3 10.2 50.4 59.3 2.0 104.6 4.7
Embiid (PHI) 29.2 11.8 46.5 79.6 -3.5 104.9 -11.4
Koufos (SAC) 9.5 11.1 46.6 44.4 -3.1 105.1 -5.1
B. Lopez (BKN) 28.1 7.3 47.8 82.2 0.8 105.9 1.7
Drummond (DET) 17.8 16.5 52.3 52.9 -2.1 106.2 -3.6
Valanciunas (TOR) 17.2 12.6 56.8 87.5 1.3 107.3 2.7
Pachulia (GSW) 9.7 11.4 61.3 92.3 0.6 108.2 -1.1
Noah (NYK) 6.7 13.7 45.8 31.6 0.3 109.4 1.4
Towns (MIN) 22.4 9.1 48.6 75.6 -1.4 110.4 1.8
Mozgov (LAL) 14.5 8.4 64.6 87.5 -2.1 110.6 -3.7
Plumlee (POR) 12.1 8.1 51.2 53.7 -1.1 112.0 -0.6

Furthermore, he also has a 2.1 net rating, good for 15th among starting centers in the league.

 Net Rating PTS REB FG% FT% +/- Defensive Rating Net Rating
Jordan (LAC) 12.2 14.9 57.8 44.3 18.4 88.8 26
Gobert (UTA) 11.6 12.4 60.3 61.9 10.0 98.5 12.9
Horford (BOS) 14.7 6.5 55.6 66.7 8.1 99.7 12.3
Hibbert (CHA) 19.2 10.9 60 100 1.4 93.1 9.7
M. Plumlee (MIL) 7.9 6.3 42.9 66.7 -0.2 95.3 8.5
Adams (OKC) 10.8 9.4 50.5 88.5 7.7 95.4 7.8
Capela (HOU) 15.8 13.3 60.2 42.3 4.4 104.0 7.3
Howard (ATL) 18.8 15.7 62.2 49.3 3.7 96.3 6.5
Baynes (DET) – Starter stats 21.4 8.6 61.5 100 7.5

 

92.3 5.8
Bogut (DAL) 5.7 14.5 44.4 0 1.8 91.3 5.6
Thompson (CLE) 7.2 12.7 65.9 38.1 3.9 103.5 4.7
P. Gasol (SAS) 16.3 10.2 50.4 59.3 2.0 104.6 4.7
Turner (IND) 18.9 9.3 54.4 76.7 1.5 100.2 3.7
Valanciunas (TOR) 17.2 12.6 56.8 87.5 1.3 107.3 2.7
R. Lopez (CHI) 12.5 10.0 45.1 66.7 3.8 103.5 2.3
Baynes – Season Stats 11.9 8.4 53.2 78.9 4.0

 

94.1 [10th] 2.1
Chandler (PHO) 9.2 15.9 69.7 64.7 0.6 102.6 1.9
Towns (MIN) 22.4 9.1 48.6 75.6 -1.4 110.4 1.8
B. Lopez (BKN) 28.1 7.3 47.8 82.2 0.8 105.9 1.7
Noah (NYK) 6.7 13.7 45.8 31.6 0.3 109.4 1.4
M. Gasol (MEM) 21.0 6.5 42.9 76.5 1.0 103.4 0.4
Whiteside (MIA) 19.8 17.3 53.6 59.6 -0.8 97.5 -0.4
Plumlee (POR) 12.1 8.1 51.2 53.7 -1.1 112.0 -0.6
Pachulia (GSW) 9.7 11.4 61.3 92.3 0.6 108.2 -1.1
Gortat (WAS) 12.1 13.0 57.7 71.0 0.0 103.4 -1.3
Drummond (DET) 17.8 16.5 52.3 52.9 -2.1 106.2 -3.6
Mozgov (LAL) 14.5 8.4 64.6 87.5 -2.1 110.6 -3.7
Asik (NOP) 6.3 13.0 45.0 55.6 1.8 97.7 -4.7
Koufos (SAC) 9.5 11.1 46.6 44.4 -3.1 105.1 -5.1
Nurkic (DEN) 15.8 12.6 47.3 59.5 -3.9 103.9 -6.0
Vucevic (ORL) 14.4 14.3 42.8 44.0 -4.1 103.3 -6.7
Embiid (PHI) 29.2 11.8 46.5 79.6 -3.5 104.9 -11.4

While it is a small sample size, the numbers and game play show that if given the opportunity, Baynes can be competitive and even better than most centers in the league.

Will he be an All Star or All NBA type center? No most definitely not. However if you are looking for a serviceable big man who is capable of finishing at the rim while anchoring the defense than Aron Baynes is your guy.

The Detroit Pistons signed Boban Marjanović in the off season as a safe-gap on the chance Baynes walks. Based on his play early in the season it seems more and more likely that the Aussie will be wearing a new uniform next season.

Will this be as a reserve or a starter?

The number have clearly shown that it should be as starter.

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