The Best Under the Radar Personnel Fits of Free Agency
5. Miami Heat- Dion Waiters (2 years,$6 million)
*Photo via USA Today
Dion Waiter was drafted in the NBA to get buckets. He is a microwave that can heat up in seconds and drop 8 points before you even realize that he came off the bench. After letting Dwyane Wade go, the Heat lose the face of the franchise and sans Chris Bosh’s condition, one of the few creators on the roster. Last season they could give Dwyane Wade the ball and a Hassan Whiteside pick and he would make things happen, even at 34. Left on the Miami perimeter are Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, and Justise Winslow, and while Dragic can make some magic with the ball in his hands, the latter three are best exploited in an off the ball role, whether it is running out in transition, spot up jumpers, or cuts.
Dion Waiters fills the need for somebody to make plays. Off the bench in the playoffs, when Westbrook and Durant took breathers, Waiters acted as the initiator of the offense over max man Enes Kanter. Although streaky and inconsistent, he filled a solid role for one of the most talented teams in the NBA last year. And for 3 million a year in South Beach, Dion Waiters is a bargain that fills an area of need mightily well. In a market where Matthew Dellavedova and Eric Gordon get 38 and 53 million, this is a steal for Miami.
4. Milwaukee Bucks- Mirza Teletovic (4 years,$30 million) and Matthew Dellavedova (4 years,$38 million)
*Photo via FoxSports
This comes down to one word, SHOOTING. The Milwaukee Bucks had two players who shot above 33% last year from 3 (Bayless and Middleton), only one of which is returning next year. Not to mention, the Bucks made only 440 three pointers as a team! To put it in perspective, Stephen Curry, made 402 three-point shots on his own last year. The spacing on this team was worse than you could imagine.
Their starting line only featured one shooter, Middleton, so suffice it to say in an era of pace and space, the Bucks did the exact opposite. That makes the signings of Teletovic and Dellavedova so much more important, Teletovic as a stretch 4 opens up the lane for drives and cuts by the simple virtue of the threat he presents as a shooter on the perimeter. Teletovic not only opens the floor up, but in drawing a big man away from the paint, it limits the help that his defender can provide in the paint and especially at the rim to stop driving forwards guarding Jabari Parker or Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Dellavedova is a scrappy point guard that isn’t afraid of anybody and gets after it; most importantly he has been a good shooter ever since his days playing for Saint Mary’s. These signings open up the floor for Monroe post ups or and infinitely more options for their two franchise cornerstones (Parker and Antetokounmpo).
3. San Antonio Spurs- Dewayne Dedmon (2 years,$6 million)
*Photo via 24-7sports
Once again, this is a bargain for the current free-agent marketplace. Dedmon is replacing fan favorite Boban Marjanovic, who the Pistons signed for 3 years and 21 million. For 15 million less, I personally would rather have Dedmon than Boban. Dedmon is more athletic and has infinitely superior quickness, but lacks the polish passing and low post acumen that Boban gave the Spurs. Not only is he a superior athlete, but as a good rim runner in transition and a great finisher around the rim, he has one really great NBA skill, rim protection.
He offers better rim protection and defensive versatility than Boban ever could, and you can comfortably stick Dedmon on more mobile bigs that Boban just couldn’t guard. This comes down to that for 15 million less the Spurs are getting more than good value replacing Boban with the poor, poor mans version of DeAndre Jordan.
2. Houston Rockets- Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson (4 years,$53 million and 4 years,$80 million)
*Photo via Fox Sports
Let me get this out of the way, I am not comfortable with paying injury-riddled Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson a combined 133 million dollars over 4 years. I have zero confidence that they will stay on the court and the idea of a 32 year old Ryan Anderson making 20 million and feebly attempting to play defense makes me sick to my stomach. With that said in terms of the duo’s 2016-2017 roster fit in Houston, I love it.
The Houston Rockets let Dwight Howard go, and in doing so they not only double-downed on James Harden, but they triple and quadruple downed on him. Without Dwight, their roster was devoid of much offensive options outside of seeing what James Harden can do. Not saying Dwight Howard was good on offense, but he could find a bucket in low-post occasionally and is the among the best rim runners in the league. With a lineup of Patrick Beverly, Harden, Trevor Ariza, Montrezl Harrell, Nene, Sam Dekker, Corey Brewer, and Michael Beasley, outside of James Harden and a contested long 2pt jump shot from Michael Beasley, you do not have any guys who can make a play when you need a bucket.
This team was build around the premise that every possession starts with the ball in James Harden’s hands. In Ryan Anderson, you get one of the best offensive complimentary pieces you can have, a player that has made his money as a stretch 4 and a pick and pop extraordinaire, a player that in a Anderson and Harden pick and rolls could spell nightmares for defenders. Plus, Gordon, a once up and coming star who was derailed by injuries but can still shoot the lights out. Gordon can provide a spark off the bench to initiate the offense on the ball or play alongside Harden as a deft shooter from downtown to provide offense off the ball. So they get a player who can be a sensational offensive compliment to Harden in the starting lineup and one who can be a off or on ball scorer with or without Harden.
Don’t be surprised if James Harden (Plus Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard) gets some MVP love for carrying their teams and Eric Gordon emerges as a 6th Man of the Year Candidate
1. New Orleans Pelicans- Terrence Jones (1 year,$1.5 million)
*Photo via USA Today
This is my favorite signing of all of free agency, the more I think about it, the more I love it. Let me know how this sounds, a 24 year old power forward, who can shoot 3’s at a reasonable clip, a good shot blocker, has good mobility, very athletic, a strong and powerful finisher, and a high level rebounder. You tell me that does not sound like everything you want in a power forward. He has shot 35% from 3 and had 1.8 blocks per game a season ago and averaged 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in his 2nd and 3rd seasons in the league.
Now I am not saying he is an All-Star, but he has proven with Houston to be a quality starter on a playoff team. At 24, he has room to grow and on a 1 year flier as the 3rd big man behind Asik and Davis, this is an A+ signing. He can play seamlessly with either player, operating as another big man with touch on offense with Davis as well as a mobile and versatile defender in the frontcourt, all the while being a energy rebounder. And with Asik, he provides some bounce and spacing with his shooting touch, and paired with Asik, he gives the Pelicans two of the best rebounders in the league on the court at same time; crushing any chance for opponent offensive boards and second chances.
He can do everything Asik cannot and compliment Davis perfectly, not to mention, he has played with Anthony Davis in the past (Kentucky’s 2012 National Championship). A near perfect signing for Nola.
Honorable Mention to the Celtics signing of Al Horford which is, in my opinion, one of the smartest and deft moves of the offseason.A guy who perfectly fits their locker room, culture, and on court style. He was too big of a signing to earn a spot on this list.