5 Underrated Signings This Offseason
Mike Conley agreed to remain with the Memphis Grizzlies for 5-years, $153 million; the biggest contract in NBA history. Ian Mahinmi received $64 million from the Washington Wizards and Al Horford joined the Boston Celtics for 4-years,$113 million. None of it makes sense, especially Mahinmi’s deal but I guess this is what the increased salary cap world looks like. However, there are some players flying under the radar that won’t just be wearing new jersey’s but will be upgrading those teams as well. Here are five of the top underrated signings of this offseason:
Al Jefferson, Indiana Pacers, $30 million for 3-years
*Photo via SlamOnline
When Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics, joining the supreme quartet that would win Boston’s first championship in (08’) since 1986, Al Jefferson was the main component in that package, and rightfully so. Jefferson is your quintessential, back-to-the-basket, old-school, low post scorer and if you go by the numbers, Jefferson hasn’t disappointed. Other than his first two years in the league with the Celtics and last season with the Hornets, Jefferson has not averaged less than 16 ppg, posting his career high in points during the 08’-09’ season when he recorded 23.1 ppg as a member of the Wolves. He was Jahlil Okafor before Jahlil entered the league last season, and as a Pacer, he’ll make Indianapolis forget about that tall kid from Georgetown who used to play there. (Myles Turner might’ve beat him to the punch in that regard) Unfortunately for Jefferson, the talented post-scorer is on the decline. In the last two seasons alone, Jefferson has struggled with his health, missing a significant number of games and when you look at his contract compared to what Horford or even Mahinmi has netted, you know there is something wrong. With Turner and newly acquired, Thaddeus Young likely to be the starting frontcourt for the Pacers, Jefferson will be the perfect backup who can come in, slow the game down and put some points on the board. Concerns or not, Jefferson improves the Pacers who have quietly had a productive offseason so far.
Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs, $30 million for 2-years
*Photo via SlamOnline
According to News4SA.com, Tim Duncan could inform the San Antonio Spurs this weekend about his decision to retire or continue playing. In an earlier report by News4SA.com, they stated that Duncan is leaning towards retirement. Signing Pau Gasol is Duncan insurance. It insures the Spurs that if they indeed lose their franchise cornerstone who has been able to deliver championships, Gasol can step in and not replace Duncan but give you the same level of production or better than what a 40 year-old Duncan can provide. Gasol is a little younger at 36 and proved last year that the Spaniard still has a lot left in the tank. With the Bulls, Gasol was an All-Star (6th appearance) averaging a double-double in 16.5 ppg and 11.0 rebounds. If Duncan returned he would sparingly be used, regulated to playing 10-15 mins a game in a reserve role, including plenty of rest throughout the season. In Gasol, the Spurs have a similar player, talent wise, who can still start and play at a high level. Most importantly, Gasol has championship experience, winning two chips with the Los Angeles Laker,s so you know they speak the same language. Whether it’s the draft, free agency or by trade, the Spurs always seem to make the right move at the right time and bringing in Gasol validates just that.
Bismack Biyombo, $72 million, 4 years, Orlando Magic
*Photo via HoopsHype
Orlando has been pretty busy this offseason. They traded away half of their backcourt, sending Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Serge Ibaka. They gave Evan Fournier north of $80 million for the next five years. Signed Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin and acquired Jodie Meeks. Now they add Bismack Biyombo to the mix and it's clear Orlando is in win-now mode. With Biyombo and Ibaka now on the roster, the question now is who will start? Fortunately for us, we are not paid the big bucks to make those decisions, so we will leave that up to new head coach Frank Vogel. However, adding Biyombo cannot be viewed as a negative. This is a 6'9, 23 year-old-center, who drove the Cleveland Cavaliers crazy-on the glass-during the Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 3, Biyombo set a franchise record, grabbing 26 boards, becoming the 4th player since 1984 to achieve the feat, making Tristan Thompson look like a rebounding peasant in the process. Biyombo is all hustle, effort and excitement. He's a scrappy player who's not afraid to get his hands dirty down low and his play will easily make him a crowd favorite in Orlando. Biyombo hasn't even reached his full potential yet and definitely has room to grow on the offensive end. Maybe Ibaka can teach him how to shoot and Vucevic can teach him some low-post moves. Bravo Orlando, Bravo.
Evan Turner, $70 million, 4 years, Portland Trail Blazers
*Photo via LakersPulse
When you think about the resurgence of the Boston Celtics in the last couple of years, guys like Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart would probably, immediately come to mind right? But what about Evan Turner? The former 2nd overall pick of 2010 by the Sixers, pretty much became the Celtics MVP this past season, playing the one, two and three at times, displaying his versatility. From passing, to scoring and rebounding, Turner did it all for the Celtics, averaging 10.5 ppg, 4.4 assists and 4.9 rebs for the season. In the playoffs, despite a first-round exit to the Atlanta Hawks, Turner improved those numbers to 13.2 ppg, 4.5 assists and 5.7 rebs. The cool thing about Turner is that it seemed like when the Celtics needed someone to come up big down the stretch, Turner was was an option opposed to the obviously talented Thomas.
In this win vs. the Warriors you see exactly makes Turner great and it's his ability to turn nothing into something. If your star can't get open, Turner can turn nothing into something because he can create, and even with Thomas and Bradley on the floor, you saw the C's defer to Turner's expertise. The Blazers will enjoy this.
Chandler Parsons, $94 million, 4-years, Memphis Grizzlies
*Photo via USA Today
The Grizzlies haven’t had a perimeter player like a Parsons since they decided to let Rudy Gay go for the second time in 2013. And Parsons fits the bill of that prototypical scoring wing from the perimeter, who can actually shoot the ball. Last year with Dallas, Parsons averaged his second lowest ppg but shot a career high 41 percent from behind the arc. Memphis fans aren’t used to seeing their Grizzlies drain threes thanks to their 31 percent success rate joining the Los Angeles Lakers at the bottom of the league, so Parsons will become a fan favorite. It’s going to be interesting if Parsons becomes bests buds with Justin Timberlake, but it’s also going to be interesting to see how Parsons pairs with Conley who just signed for all of Memphis. Other than shooting threes, Parsons can score in a variety of ways which involves playing off the ball, running the floor, shooting off screens, the give-and-go and creating for himself and others. His basketball IQ is high, so he won’t hurt you in turnovers or anything like that. He also makes the right basketball play, which in most cases is that extra pass, giving up a good shot for a better one.
At 2:32 in the video above (and try not to get loss in his grace) , after Zaza steals the ball and hands it off to Parsons, he could’ve easily pulled up for the three with the space Gorgui Dieng allowed but he looked cross-court and found a wide open Wesley Matthews for the trifecta. Parsons makes the Grizz better. Case and point.
As a New York Knicks fan I have to throw this in here. Brandon Jennings was a great signing because he’s Derrick Rose insurance.
Info and Stats courtesy of SBnation, ESPN, NBA.com, SI, News4SA, BR, FOX