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2011-12 Best/Worst NBA Offseason Acquisitions
Posted By Derek Page On March 5, 2012 @ 5:00 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
We’re over halfway through the 2011-12 NBA season and starting to get a feel for which teams are for real and the type of impact players are having on their respective squads. Before a whole new group of players change teams at the upcoming trade deadline, it’s a good time to take a look at which teams won with moves over the offseason and which teams are looking to make up for offseason mistakes.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the best and worst additions from this offseason:
The Best Acquisitions:
Chris Paul (Trade), Clippers:
The trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers was big news this offseason, if not just for the fact that Paul was originally bound for L.A.’s other team.
Paul’s addition has completely changed the culture around the Clippers’ organization and his numbers speak volumes to the impact an elite point guard can have on a team ready to take the next step. Through 30 games played this season, Paul is third in the NBA in assists per game (8.5) and third in steals (2.1) – this while averaging 19.5 points per game on over 49 percent shooting.
A legitimate MVP contender so far this season, Paul has been the most important factor in the Clippers’ 22-13 record. With that mark, the Clippers have surpassed the Lakers for first in the Pacific Division so far this season and L.A. has the third best record overall in the Western Conference.
To put this type of turnaround in perspective: L.A. was floundering at 11-24 through 35 games last season.
Tyson Chandler (FA – S&T), Knicks:
Chandler, the MVP of the Dallas Mavericks last season according to Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, has been the key to a vastly improved New York Knicks’ defense this season. Last season, the Knicks ranked as the third-worst team in the NBA in points allowed (105.7) and were fifth-worst in field goal percentage defense (47.2 percent).
This year, Chandler’s presence has led to New York jumping into the top half of the league in both of those categories. Along with averaging nearly a double-double with 11.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest, Chandler has brought a toughness and attitude that was sorely lacking from the Knicks frontline last season.
Oh, and Chandler leads the NBA in field goal percentage, shooting almost 70 percent (68.9) just for good measure.
Jeremy Lin (Claimed Off Waivers), Knicks:
Long before Linsanity, this pick up was a mere afterthought for the New York Knicks after the Houston Rockets waived the seldom-used, second-year point guard. The signing of center Samuel Dalembert forced the Rockets to cut someone and Lin was the odd man out. Whoops.
After injuries and ineptitude forced him into the Knicks lineup, Lin took over the basketball world in early February, forcing his way into the starting lineup with his dynamic play. With Lin leading the way, the Knicks are 10-4 after a miserable 8-15 start and the 23-year-old is leading the way by scoring nearly 15 points and dishing out six assists per contest.
Turnovers are still an issue (Lin is averaging over 3.5 a game) but the former Harvard standout has been the reason New York turned around what was looking like a wasted season.
David West (FA), Pacers:
Picking up West was the smartest decision the Indiana Pacers made this offseason. The former New Orleans Hornets’ star has provided leadership and savvy play at the power forward position, which has helped the young and talented Pacers take the next step.
The Pacers are 11 games over .500 this season (23-12) after finishing last year eight games under at 37-45, and West’s tutelage has been at the forefront of that exceptional start.
The majority of the credit for this team’s success generally goes to the younger guys on the team like center Roy Hibbert and guard Paul George, but the West-effect shouldn’t be discounted. As steady as it gets from the power forward position, West is averaging just over 12 points and seven rebounds per game to propel Indiana to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Shane Battier (FA), HEAT:
While Battier’s signing fell mostly below the radar in December, the Miami HEAT forward has been integral in Miami getting out to the best start in franchise history this season. Battier’s statistics won’t blow anyone away, but the intangibles the 10-year vet out of Duke brings to the table are the type of things that separate good teams from championship teams.
With larger-than-life personalities like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh garnering most of the spotlight, it’s easy for Battier to quietly do the little things that are paramount to Miami’s success. His versatility has also been key: With Bosh missing the last few games due to a death in the family, Battier has stepped into the starting lineup and done an admirable job holding down the fort.
The postseason is where Battier will really make his mark as he’ll be able to give James a break in guarding the opposing team’s best offensive option at every position aside from center.
The Worst Acquisitions:
Lamar Odom (Trade), Mavericks:
Of all the players acquired this summer, Lamar Odom has had the most difficult time adjusting to his new team after being dealt from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for a traded-player exception. After showing up to camp out of shape, Odom is in the midst of a nightmare season in which he’s averaging career-lows in every statistical category except for three-point percentage (Odom shot 19 percent from deep in the 2001-2002 season) while trying to get in shape on the fly.
Because of his seemingly blase attitude on the court, Odom has been the punching bag for Mavericks’ fans and writers that have questioned his desire to play for Dallas.
At times this season, cascades of boos have rained down upon Odom at the American Airlines Center as the big man entered the game or when he just stunk up the place with his horrendous play. A recent 10-day break for personal reasons culminated with Odom being placed in the D-League briefly before being brought back up to play against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night without playing for the Mavs’ D-League squad, the Texas Legends.
There is hope around the organization that Odom has turned the corner after his hiatus and, against the Jazz, the Mavs’ forward seemed much more involved in the contest. The Mavericks snapped a four-game losing streak and Odom finished with nine points, five rebounds, three assists and a game-high three blocks.
Eric Gordon (Trade), Hornets:
A spectacular talent when he’s on the floor, Gordon has had trouble accomplishing that feat thus far this season for the New Orleans Hornets. As the main piece acquired by the Hornets in the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, Gordon has played in just two games this season due to a right knee injury that recently required arthroscopic surgery.
Gordon is expected to miss six more weeks but reports are that New Orleans may hold him out for the rest of the season. While the player he was traded for (Paul) continues to excel in L.A., Gordon may not play another game this season for the Hornets.
Raymond Felton (Trade), Blazers:
After being acquired via a draft-day trade that sent point guard Andre Miller to the Denver Nuggets, Rudy Fernandez to the Mavericks and Felton to the Portland Trail Blazers, things have gone from bad to worse for the Blazers’ point guard.
Through 36 games, Felton is averaging career-lows in points per contest (9.7), field goal percentage (36.8) and three-point percentage (24.6). His playmaking has suffered as well, with Felton averaging the least assists per game (6.1) since his rookie season.
After getting out to a hot start, the Blazers have lost three straight games and find themselves with a sub-par 18-19 record, good for tenth in the Western Conference.
Felton is another player that showed up this season out of shape and his pitiful play has resulted in the six-year veteran losing his starting job to Jamal Crawford. There have also been whispers around the Blazers’ organization that Felton may be on the block at the trade deadline.
Stephen Jackson (Trade) Bucks:
A draft night three-team trade between the Charlotte Bobcats, Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks landed Jackson in Milwaukee, but the steady vet has had his issues since joining the team. As things stand, Jackson is having one of the worst seasons of his career, averaging just 10.5 points to go along with a career-low 35.7 percent field goal percentage.
Even more disturbing than his lack of production is the reported rift between Jackson and head coach Scott Skiles. Jackson’s discontent with the team has gotten so volatile as of late that Jackson has stayed home during the Bucks’ recent road trip due to what is being labeled as “hamstring tightness.”
Milwaukee has not too subtly put Jackson on the block as the trade deadline approaches, but his value around the league has taken a nose dive so it’s unlikely the Bucks can get much back for the disgruntled swing man.
Shannon Brown (FA), Suns:
With the Phoenix Suns this season, Brown’s shooting percentage is hovering around 40 percent and the Suns’ sixth man hasn’t provided the spark he was expected to coming into the year.
Brown has never been a prolific scorer. In fact, he’s never averaged double digits in terms of point per game in his career. However, Brown is expected to be reliable and efficient on the offensive end, especially with Steve Nash getting him open looks left and right.
Combine his ineffectiveness on offense with the fact that he does virtually nothing in any other facet of the game (Brown averages two rebounds and less than an assist per contest) and the Suns have got a $3.5 million mistake on their hands.
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