Ranking The Impact Players On New Teams
No one likes a quiet NBA offseason and unless your team won it all, the general manager is expected to do something that impacts your team’s fortunes. This summer, general managers complied. There is a long list of teams that have added impact players and created some real buzz heading into next month’s training camps.
It wasn’t only the rich that got richer, but the richest did. This year’s biggest impact players changing teams are:
1. Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
By far the biggest hole in the Lakers’ lineup over the past couple of seasons has been at point guard and in a move that could only happen in La La Land, the Phoenix Suns actually helped the Lakers acquire the eight-time All-Star and two-time MVP for a bag of used balls and some draft picks.
Steve Nash might be 38 years old, but he has led the NBA in assists for the past three seasons and even with a sore back, Nash instantly moves the Lakers from “pretenders” to “contenders” once again. No other player will have a bigger impact on their new team next season than Nash.
2. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
In another example of the rich getting richer, the Lakers traded the league’s second-best center for the most dominant center in basketball today and while this was only an incremental improvement to an already loaded roster, it’s hard not to be impressed. At just 26 years old, Dwight Howard is a six-time All-Star, three-time Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s most unstoppable force in the paint.
3. Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers
Head coach Doug Collins had taken the 76ers as far as his roster would permit and if Philadelphia wanted to become more than a “pretender” in the Eastern Conference, major changes were needed. The change couldn’t have been bigger or more unexpected than landing Andrew Bynum as part of the four-team trade involving Howard that sent the 76ers’ own All-Star, Andre Iguodala, packing.
The 24-year-old Bynum just completed the best season of career, earning an All-Star nod, averaging over 35 minutes and only missing six games. Bynum proved that if he was featured in the offense, he could be a dominant center who averages over 20 points and 10 rebounds. Bynum changes everything in Philadelphia at both ends of the court; it will be interesting to see what Coach Collins can do with this dramatically different roster.
4. Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
Joe Johnson’s generous six-year max contract was supposed to be immoveable, but when the Nets failed to land Howard, they went after the next best available All-Star to pair up with Deron Williams. In what can only be described as a salary dump, the Hawks traded Johnson for spare parts and draft picks, but the Nets’ biggest coup may have been Williams’ signature on a new five-year deal.
A 6’7 shooting guard, the 31-year-old Johnson has four years and $89 million left on his deal, but he can still put up 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and knock down close to 40 percent of his three-point bombs. Keeping everything in perspective, the six-time All-Star had a positive impact in Brooklyn before he even stepped into their new building and this team doesn’t care about the cost.
5. Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have been called the best NBA team that doesn’t feature a superstar, but in August, they added a 2012 All-Star. Andre Iguodala is a leader that can give a coach what his team needs on a nightly basis. For the defensive-minded Doug Collins, Iguodala was a playmaker and perimeter defender who contributed 13 points a game, but before Collins arrival, Iguodala was a 17-to-20 point per game player who could still fill up the stats sheet in nearly every category.
The young, up-tempo Nuggets under head coach George Karl provides the best fit to Iguodala’s skill-set since he arrived in the league and this often underappreciated wing player will have a big impact in Denver.
6. Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors traded for Andrew Bogut in March, even though the oft-injured center had a broken ankle and was out for the season. This spring, Bogut had surgery to remove bone spurs, but the big Australian is expected to be ready to play his first game for the Warriors by opening night.
The first overall pick of 2005, Bogut is a true seven-foot big man who can put up a double-double along with 2.5 blocks on a nightly basis when healthy and for the defensively challenged Warriors, Bogut is the answer to many of the team’s recent problems.
7. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo has been looking for a starting point guard since he arrived in Toronto, but his best backup, Jose Calderon, kept taking the job away from his acquisitions. While Calderon is a great pass-first guard, he doesn’t fit the current mold of the league’s top point guards who also put up points and Colangelo went all-out this summer to get the guy he wanted.
Two years ago, Kyle Lowry had a breakout season in Houston and was earning All-Star buzz from the media, but last year a mid-season injury created a point guard controversy and the Rockets traded Lowry to Toronto for a uniquely protected first-round draft pick. Lowry gives Toronto the aggressive scorer Colangelo has been looking for and the aggressive defender head coach Dwane Casey demands. The acquisition of Lowry is a major reason why Toronto is thought to be back in the playoff hunt after four years in the lottery.
8. Chris Kaman, Dallas Mavericks
In 2010, the All-Star Chris Kaman averaged 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds over 76 games for the Clippers, but yet another injury cut his next season short and he was included as salary ballast in the trade for Chris Paul. Even as an unwanted player in New Orleans, he contributed 13.1 points and 7.7 rebounds and it would be a mistake to overlook what a healthy Kaman can do at center.
In Dallas, Kaman will be paired up with his German national team partner, Dirk Nowitzki, on a one-year deal and a healthy and highly motivated Kaman will help make the Mavericks a much more dangerous team than they first appear.
9. Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota Timberwolves
With the success of rookie Ricky Rubio, Minnesota’s glaring weaknesses on the wing became even more important to address and Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn has made some excellent additions. After 10 highly productive NBA seasons, including a 2004 All-Star appearance, Andrei Kirilenko played for CSKA Moscow last year, but now he is back in the NBA on two-year deal with the Timberwolves.
Kirilenko put up 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game with the Utah Jazz two seasons ago and he will provide a young Timberwolves team with a steadying defensive presence at small forward.
10. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
Most rookies do not have a major impact right away, but Anthony Davis isn’t like most rookies. The number one overall pick is expected to be his team’s best defender this coming season. Davis averaged 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks as a freshman at Kentucky and with the rebuilding Hornets, the 19-year-old will be given plenty of opportunities to play through his mistakes as he learns the NBA game.
There are a lot more than 10 impact players on new teams. This was as dramatic an offseason as one could hope for. Jeremy Lin has brought “Linsanity” to Houston. Acquiring Mo Williams proves the Jazz have playoff aspirations. Jonas Valanciunas arrives in Toronto after playing in the Olympics for Lithuania. Amnestied players, Luis Scola and Elton Brand, are coming off big seasons and will make an immediate impact with their new clubs. By just attempting a comeback, Brandon Roy is having an impact in Minnesota; imagine if he can still play starter’s minutes?
This was a very productive summer for a lot of teams. Is there an impact player on a new team that we have overlooked? Give us your top impact players on new teams in the comments below.