NBA AM: The Most Underrated Acquisitions
This offseason certainly didn’t disappoint. There were unexpected signings, blockbuster trades and copious amounts of drama. Many notable players switched teams including Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Andre Iguodala, Ray Allen, Jeremy Lin and Jason Terry. However, there were plenty of moves that didn’t receive as much attention, for whatever reason. Here are the most underrated acquisitions of the 2012 offseason:
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets
Despite being one of the top free agents on the market, the Hornets’ acquisition of Anderson seemed to fly under the radar. Drafting Anthony Davis and re-signing Eric Gordon were huge moves, but the addition of Anderson makes New Orleans’ young core even scarier. Last season, the 24-year-old had a career-year with the Orlando Magic, averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds while leading the league in three-point shots made. He was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player last season and now he’ll take his sharpshooting abilities to New Orleans. The Hornets acquired him in a sign-and-trade with the Magic and inked him to a four-year, $36 million deal. Not only will Anderson be able to spread the floor for New Orleans’ other offensive weapons, he proved that he can be a top offensive option last year in Orlando. Anderson is still developing and he’ll only continue to grow in New Orleans.
Aaron Brooks, Sacramento Kings
Brooks is looking forward to resuming his NBA career after spending last season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association. The 27-year-old played well in China, leading Guangdong all the way to the CBA Finals, where he averaged over 30 points per game before losing to Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks. Now, Brooks will compete for Sacramento’s starting point guard job against second-year player Isaiah Thomas. The last time Brooks was a starter, in the 2010-11 season with the Houston Rockets, he averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists. The Kings had tried several times to acquire Brooks in the past and were thrilled when they were able to sign him. He’ll have every opportunity to succeed in Sacramento and get his career back on track.
Mo Williams, Utah Jazz
Entering the offseason, Utah’s top priority was finding a starting-caliber point guard. When they didn’t draft or sign a floor general, they turned to the trade market and were able to acquire Williams in exchange for the traded-player exception they received in exchange for Mehmet Okur. This is a win-win for both sides: Williams gets the starting job that he has been wanting and the Jazz get the point guard that they’ve desperately needed. This acquisition didn’t receive a lot of press, but it could be the move that takes Utah to the next level this season.
Antawn Jamison, Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are obviously the Lakers’ biggest additions of the offseason, but signing Jamison for the veteran’s minimum is a steal. Not only will the Lakers have one of the best starting units in the league, they may also have the Sixth Man of the Year if Jamison can pick up where he left off with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last season, Jamison averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 65 games with the Cavaliers. While everyone is looking forward to seeing Howard and Nash don purple and gold for the first time, don’t sleep on Jamison. He’s an afterthought right now, but he could emerge as a very important piece for the Lakers this season.
Lou Williams, Atlanta Hawks
Entering the offseason, Williams was expected to be one of the more highly coveted free agents due to his scoring ability and potential. However, the 25-year-old wasn’t linked to many teams and then quietly signed with the Hawks for the mid-level exception. Atlanta was more than happy to bring Williams back home to Georgia and if the scoring guard can produce like he did in Philadelphia, this deal looks like a bargain. With Joe Johnson now in Brooklyn, Williams can step in and help carry the scoring load in Atlanta.
Grant Hill, Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers added a number of players this offseason including Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins. However, the most important acquisition for the Clippers may end up being Grant Hill. At 39 years old Hill has shown that he can still be a significant contributor. But more importantly, Hill is a veteran leader who will be an excellent presence in the locker room. This signing may not have gotten a lot of attention with everything else going on in Los Angeles, but the Clippers’ young nucleus will benefit from having Hill around.
Chris Kaman, Dallas Mavericks
It wasn’t long ago that Kaman was considered one of the top centers in the league. With the Los Angeles Clippers he was a double-double threat every single night and he was selected as an All-Star in 2010. Last year, Kaman’s numbers dropped in New Orleans, but it was never a good fit since the Hornets were a rebuilding team and the 30-year-old center wanted to play for a contender. At one point, the Hornets even dismissed Kaman from the team as they tried to trade him. Now, in Dallas, Kaman should be able to return to form. He is a low-risk, high-reward signing on a one-year deal worth $8 million. If he’s able to find the fountain of youth alongside Dirk Nowitzki and Elton Brand, both of which he has experience playing with, Dallas may have one of the best frontcourts in the league.
C.J. Watson, Brooklyn Nets
Last season, Watson had the opportunity to start for the Chicago Bulls in Derrick Rose’s absence and he did a solid job, averaging 9.7 points and 4.1 assists. However, the Bulls decided to cut costs this offseason and chose not to guarantee the final year of Watson’s contract. After experiencing two winning seasons in Chicago, the 28-year-old wanted to play for a contender. He decided to sign with the Brooklyn Nets and back up Deron Williams, even though Brooklyn only had a minimum contract to offer. This was an excellent signing for the Nets. Not only was it a bargain, but it also gives them one of the best reserve point guards in the league and insurance in case Williams gets injured.
Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves
Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko are bigger names, but Minnesota’s best acquisition may be Budinger. It’s been a year since we’ve seen Roy and Kirilenko play against NBA talent. Meanwhile, Budinger has been gradually improving each year and is about to enter his prime, which is why Minnesota was willing to give up a late first-round pick to land him. Budinger is very close with Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman, so expect him to hit the ground running in Minnesota and earn a spot in the rotation right away. Budinger is just 24 years old and his best basketball is likely ahead of him, which can’t be said for Roy or Kirilenko.
Jarrett Jack, Golden State Warriors
With Stephen Curry’s recent history of injuries, it was important for the Warriors to acquire a reserve point guard who could start and run the team if necessary. Who better than Jarrett Jack? The 28-year-old is the consummate professional and he has started 248 games in his career. Last season with the New Orleans Hornets, Jack averaged 15.6 points and 6.3 assists. Jack is a starting-caliber point guard in this league, which shows how deep Golden State is entering this year.
Blazers Giving Morrison a Look: Adam Morrison knows that he’s running out of opportunities to prove himself. After struggling throughout the course of his four-year career in the NBA and ending up overseas last season, Morrison is willing to do whatever to takes to get his career back on track.
That’s why the 28-year-old showed up to Orlando and Las Vegas earlier this offseason, competing in both summer leagues so that executives and coaches could see that he could still play. Morrison played for the Los Angeles Clippers’ squad and was one of their most productive players, averaging 20 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field and 61 percent from three.
All Morrison wanted was an opportunity, and that’s exactly what he received this week when the Portland Trail Blazers offered him an invite to training camp. He won’t be guaranteed any money or a spot on the roster, but he’ll get the chance to compete and earn his way onto the team.
Why not sign Morrison to a make-good deal? If he’s as determined and hungry as he says, he may amount to something and end up contributing. At this point, he’s a low-risk signing.
Things haven’t quite gone as planned for Morrison, but he still has time to turn his career around. He looked good during summer league, but now he’ll have to duplicate that performance against NBA-level talent, which he hasn’t been able to do in the past.
Hawks Waive Williams: The Atlanta Hawks waived Jordan Williams on Monday afternoon, according to a press release sent out by the team. Williams’ contract was fully guaranteed for the upcoming season, but Hawks general manager Danny Ferry decided to cut the second-year center.
Williams, the 36th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets on July 11 along with Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, a first-round pick and a second-round pick in exchange for Joe Johnson.
The 21-year-old played in 43 games last season with the Nets, averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. Williams also spent a month with the Springfield Armor of the NBA Development League, but finished the season on the Nets’ roster. Now, Williams will become an unrestricted free agent.