HPN are huge fans of Jack Watts, both his on-field attributes and especially of everything about the off-field phenom that is Jack Watts. He is not, however, worth a prince’s ransom at the trade table and once he decided on Port Adelaide, it appears that the two sides of the deal behaved reasonably to get him off the Dees’ books and into Port Adelaide’s kind of anaemic half-forward structure.
Watts projects to be a solid contributor, and not a lynchpin or a star, for potentially another five years or so. He never panned out to have the cornerstone key position forward attributes that some thought he might develop, but he is an elite kick for goal and has a few other excellent attributes.
Watts had a very good 2016 season – somewhere around the top 100 players in the comp mark, and finished 28th in the entire AFL for PAVOff. Both these figures are extremely good for a player decried as a “bust” approximately four trillion times over the last decade. If it is that version of Watts that Port are getting, they have pulled off an absolute heist.
That version of Watts seems like a very good fit for Port who struggled mightily to effectively go inside-50 this year. Everyone has different views on this, but HPN thinks he can serve two functions based on acting as a high half forward. He works as an extra tallish target to take some pressure off Dixon when Ryder or Westhoff aren’t there, but he’s most useful as a pinpoint field kick who should help Port straighten up a bit.
The 2016 Watts kicked 38 goals and created 18 goal assists – last year Jackson Trengove was the second highest goal scorer amongst their Port’s talls with just 17, and Westhoff created 11 goal assists.
However, if he performs like he did this year (admittedly often playing waaaaay out of position as an undersized ruck or solo KPF), then Port will be no better off next year. Watts seems to relish “owning” his role on the ground, and seems to prefer being the second or third most prominent target. With Dixon, Wingard and Gray taking some of the heat from him, this might very well be the case at the Power next year.
The trade seems reasonable at this point of time. Pick 31 has a solid chance of producing a decent career with roughly as much as what the current projection for Watts is. Considering Melbourne seemed to want him gone, were short on picks, and Port didn’t have any better picks, this was about as simple a trade as could be imagined with what was available.
When we look at the most similar projections to Watts, an interesting thing appears:
The “about 36 remaining PAVs for a 26 year old” seems to be an odd sweet spot for players out-performing their projection. This cluster would be extremely encouraging for a Port Adelaide fan at first glance – a late career Hall, Brown or even Fevola would be a steal at pick 31.
However, as a mercurial player who has, to put it mildly, been a bit maligned, it’s easy to see him struggling with his new environment and continued weight of expectation. There’s a risk to taking Watts on, and the trade reflects that.
In the end, both parties behaved calmly to engineer a simple and reasonable trade. You can’t ask for more than that with a player who initially didn’t want to leave.
Verdict: Fair trade
Note: This post is part of a series of posts using a valuation method called Player Approximate Value (PAV) to evaluate trades for fairness and balance. Elsewhere, you can read much more about the method and theory behind PAV and also about PAPLEY, the projection method used to derive expected future PAVs. This method expresses both picks and players in terms of expected future value allowing them to be compared on this common basis.