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Analytics rank Rob Pelinka as 15th-best GM in NBA

Rob Pelinka is an oft-crticized general manager for the Lakers, but where does he rank among the top GMs in the NBA?

NBA: Playoffs-Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Pelinka’s tenure as the lead decision-maker has been a tumultuous one that has seen the highest of high’s and very low low’s. After leading the Lakers to a title, he dismantled that team in favor of a Russell Westbrook trade that steered the team directly in the wrong direction.

The turnaround was nearly back to the top during this season, though, as his moves at the trade deadline led the team back to the Western Conference Finals. That yo-yoing back and forth has made for quite the ride for Lakers fans and has clouded how to properly grade Pelinka’s performance.

Because in the middle of the offseason, Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports attempted to rank all the NBA GMs...using baseball Sabermetrics? Look, it’s peak offseason content.

The outline is pretty subjective and convoluted. GMs transactions are graded from a home run to a strikeout and include the draft, trades and free agency.

HR: Bona fide All-Stars
3B: Top-flight performers
2B: Front-end rotation players
1B: Other noteworthy contributors
BB: Lateral and inconclusive moves
K: Diminished returns

Pelinka ended up as a top-five executive when it came to free agent signings with, presumably, most of that buoyed by landing LeBron James.

Overall, though, Pelinka came in ranked 15th overall, which feels fair considering how much bouncing back and forth he’s done. However, some of the individual spots feels a bit unfair.

First, in the draft section, Pelinka is currently only being judged on Max Christie and Talen Horton-Tucker, and he received a K for the latter. I’m not sure what the expectation is for a No. 46 pick, but even for as much as he struggled, the Lakers got a rotation piece for a number of seasons and then traded him for another rotation piece. That hardly feels like striking out.

In the trades tier, Pelinka also receives a K for the 2020 trade for Dennis Schröder, which again feels harsh. They did give up a first round pick but Schröder was solid in the 2020 season and one of the highlights for most of the year, helping keep them team afloat during its rash of injuries. Mainly, it feels harsh Dennis to have him in the same category as Russ.

Pelinka never received anything more than a “double” for free agency with three players landing in that rank in Alex Caruso (2019), Rajon Rondo (2019) and Austin Reaves (2021). It feels a bit like picking nits but particularly the Caruso and Reaves signings feel like much bigger wins than that.

For the record, anything that happened after the trade deadline this year is not factored in. Certainly, Pelinka’s work in free agency this year would only help him.

Ultimately, all of this is picking nits of a really odd format. Middle of the road feels like a fair spot to put Pelinka in even in this bizarre format.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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