Sunday Topic: Most Underrated Acquisition
Every Sunday, HOOPSWORLD’s analysts weigh in on an NBA-related topic. Get in on the debate by leaving your thoughts in the comment section. Here’s this week’s topic.
Over the offseason, there were plenty of big-name players who changed teams. Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Steve Nash, Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Joe Johnson, Ray Allen and Jeremy Lin were among the stars traded to or signed by a new team. These were some of the most-discussed moves of the summer and they’ve been analyzed from all angles in recent months.
While those moves were dominating the headlines, there were plenty of other moves being made that didn’t get as much attention, which brings us to this week’s topic:
Who was this offseason’s most underrated acquisition?
“Jamal Crawford. As soon as the NBA’s free agency period began on midnight of July 1, the Los Angeles Clippers placed a call to Crawford and made plans to fly him out to California for a face-to-face meeting. The Clippers zeroed in on Crawford almost immediately and made it clear that signing the 32-year-old guard was their top priority. At the time, the Clippers were criticized for inking Crawford to a four-year deal since he had struggled during his one-year stint with the Portland Trail Blazers and because L.A. didn’t even consider other available shooting guards such as Ray Allen or Courtney Lee.
Now, Crawford is making the Clippers look very smart. He has outplayed every other offseason acquisition outside of James Harden, averaging 25.6 points off the bench for Los Angeles and shooting a career-high 53.4 percent from the field. He’s currently leading the Clippers in scoring, which is impressive considering he’s playing with two perennial All-Stars in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Through three games, Crawford has the same Player Efficiency Rating (29.8) as LeBron James. Making Crawford’s production even more impressive is the fact that he’s still adjusting to the change of scenery and trying to get acclimated with new teammates, coaches and plays.
While it’s still early, it’s clear that Crawford is a good fit in Los Angeles. He’s at his best when he’s playing on a contender and leading the second unit, which is why he was so effective during his two years with the Atlanta Hawks as well. Crawford was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2010 and it seems the award is his to lose this season.
Crawford’s signing didn’t generate much buzz over the offseason because he was coming off of a down year and because the Lakers’ blockbuster moves overshadowed the Clippers’ transactions. However, it was clearly one of this summer’s most underrated acquisitions and it has paid off early for the Clippers.” – Alex Kennedy
“Jason Terry. The Boston Celtics were close last season. They had the Miami HEAT on the mat in the Eastern Conference Finals, but at the end of the day they just couldn’t close them out. Despite the presence of so many NBA veterans with so much playoff experience, the Celtics simply didn’t have the ability to finish the job.
Enter Terry, a well-known but under-appreciated NBA veteran, whose signing should have caused a huge stir across the landscape in the Eastern Conference. The fact that it didn’t generate much of a reaction is an indication that a lot of people simply don’t understand what Terry brings to the table.
This is the player who walked into the Dallas Mavericks’ training camp sporting a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy and then led his team to a championship. This is the player who called out LeBron James in the NBA Finals and then proceeded to torch him for four straight games.
The Celtics needed a closer, someone who would make big shots and be the fiery x-factor for their squad. They got all that and then some in “Jet” Terry, who could be the key to them taking out Miami and getting back to the NBA Finals.” – Bill Ingram
“Carl Landry. Golden State Warriors’ fans may have been surprised to see Andrew Bogut make his debut in Wednesday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Now that Bogut is on the court in Golden State (at least for the moment), the Warriors have a logjam of big man who have shown they deserve time this season. With Bogut limited to 20 minutes a night and not playing back-to-backs, Landry’s ability to play the four or five will make a huge impact for the Warriors. Landry, who signed a two-year deal this offseason, was one of the team’s highlights during the preseason and his play has solidified him as the backup power forward, a role he’s comfortable playing.
What separates Landry from many of his NBA brethren is his ability to produce in a bench role. At 29 years old, Landry has only started 69 games in his five years in the league. Last season, he played behind Emeka Okafor on the New Orleans Hornets. In 24.4 minutes per gam, he averaged 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds, his largest totals since the 2009-10 season.
In Wednesday’s win against the Suns, Landry led the team in scoring with 17 points, while also grabbing six rebounds in just 22 minutes. David Lee, who started at power forward, only scored six points in 39 minutes. During Friday night’s home opener, Landry again dominated, scoring 20 points in 23 minutes, all while shooting 10 of 12 from the free throw line.
Although Landry will continue to be used as a spark off the bench so long as Bogut and Lee remain in the lineup, don’t be surprised to see Landry on the floor during crunch time for the Warriors.” – Richard Hardy
“Antawn Jamison. After leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, Jamison is being looked upon to shore up the team’s weak bench. Even at 36 years old, Jamison has a solid post game and sweet stroke from the perimeter that suggests his game is built to last. Just last season on a rebuilding Cavs squad, Jamison averaged a hefty 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds a contest.
Even though he’s gotten off to a rough start over the first three games of the year for the Lakers, Jamison is still the only legitimate scorer for L.A. off the bench. It’s clear that the Lakers need the 14-year veteran to produce off the pine in order to help dig them out of the 0-3 hole the team has put itself in to start the season.
Oh, and by the way, Jamison signed with Los Angeles for the veteran minimum and is making $854,389 this year.
Looking at Jamison’s career numbers of 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds, and the fact that he showed no signs of slowing down in 2012, the Lakers made a smart bet this offseason on Jamison. Averaging those types of numbers on the star-studded Lakers isn’t likely, but providing a solid scoring punch and being a difference-maker off the bench are realistic expectations on this team.
His arrival may not have received the media attention that his teammates Steve Nash and Dwight Howard generated, but Jamison could be just as important for the Lakers’ title hopes.” – Derek Page
“Andrei Kirilenko. The Minnesota Timberwolves have the difficult task of surviving injuries to both Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. If they can stay within striking distance of the playoffs in the meantime, the Wolves may be a true force down the stretch run.
Over the summer, the front office was aggressive to bolster the team’s chances, acquiring Chase Budinger, Brandon Roy, Louis Amundson, Alexey Shved and Greg Stiemsma.
But the Timberwolves’ most underrated signing, and one of the best acquisitions of the summer, was former Utah Jazz forward Kirilenko.
After spending a year abroad during the lockout, Kirilenko comes back to the NBA as one of the most versatile players in the game. In addition to scoring and playmaking, Kirilenko’s length and mobility make him one of the league’s better defenders.
When the Wolves make their run, it’ll be Kirilenko doing the dirty work.” – Eric Pincus
“O.J. Mayo. The Dallas Mavericks took a huge hit to their backcourt from a season ago, losing veterans Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to free agency this past summer. But the Mavericks responded in strong fashion by signing O.J. Mayo to what amounts to be a bargain price tag for a productive former lottery pick, at $8.2 million over two years.
While Mayo hasn’t developed into the cornerstone-of-a-franchise-type player most envisioned when he entered the league, the fifth year guard has firmly established himself as one of the league’s top three-point threats, ranking ninth overall in field goals from beyond the arc last season.
In a lineup that features aging former All-Stars such as Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, the 24-year-old Mayo will provide Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle with a change of pace option in the backcourt. Despite a diminishing role with the Memphis Grizzlies in the past two seasons, Mayo has averaged no less than 11.3 points per game since entering the league.
For his career, Mayo has averaged 17.7 points per game as a member of the starting lineup. The Mavericks are banking on Mayo to be their starting two-guard and there’s no doubt Mayo will be giving them buckets.” – Lang Greene
“Gerald Green. For the first few years of his career, Green was known as the kid with all the talent who just couldn’t live up to his potential, but after some seasoning overseas Green broke out with the New Jersey Nets last season. That, in turn, transformed into a three-year, $10.5 million deal with the Indiana Pacers this summer – money that should prove to be very, very well spent.
While he’s off to a bit of a slow start with the Pacers this season, Green proved in his third game with Indy that he’s got the ability to score in bunches, and his infectious attitude and work ethic are going to fit in great with this exciting young Pacers team.
It’s easy to spend a ton of money on young players who haven’t really proven a whole lot, but Green showed last year that he’s finally got this NBA thing figured out. For only $3.5 million a season, he’s practically a steal, even if all he ever does is come in to score off the bench as a sixth or seventh man.
But he’s certainly got the ability to be much better than that, obviously, and that’s what Kevin Pritchard and Donnie Walsh were counting on when they signed him this past summer. There’s not a whole lot better bang for your buck in this league than Green at that price.” – Joel Brigham
“Nikola Vucevic. Lost in the chaos of the Dwight Howard saga at times are the players the Orlando Magic managed to bring back in return for the franchise center. While few would say the Magic won out in that four-team trade, they did receive some pieces that will help them develop a roster of respectable young players as they try to become relevant in the Eastern Conference once again.
Vucevic is one such player. Selected with the 16th overall pick in 2011 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and now with the Magic in his second season, Vucevic averaged a solid 8.0 points and 8.7 rebounds a game in 20.6 minutes in the preseason. Glen Davis started at center after Dwight Howard went down with a back injury last season, but Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn has started Davis at power forward all throughout the preseason to give Vucevic a chance to play big minutes at the five and demonstrate his skills. His consistent play has earned him the starting center job.
While Vucevic will not immediately distract Magic fans from the absence of Howard, his size and versatility will give him the chance to be a capable center going forward in a league where a lot of centers are essentially just power forwards. The Magic recently picked up the player option for Vucevic and now has him under contract through 2014. He will be an interesting guy going forward, whether they keep him or choose to shop him.” – Robert Wing
Who was this offseason’s most underrated acquisition? Leave a comment below!