Free Agency: Worst New Fits
Courtesy of NBA.com
Not all free agency moves are created equally. I previously wrote about some of the best new fits for teams around the league, on the flipside, here are some of the worst. You can debate as to whether the following signings were wholly horrible yet it can’t be argued there are going to be at least some issues with how the following players fit with their new squads.
Jabari Parker: Chicago Bulls
Courtesy of NBA.com
Financially the Bulls did fine in signing Jabari to a 2-year $40 million contract. The fact the second year is a team option is another tick for Gar-Pax. Chicago had the salary cap flexibility to take a flyer on the former no. 2 pick, though it doesn’t mean they should have.The boys on The Outlet were mixed in their reviews on the signing with some thinking it was worth the risk while others believed they should’ve used that money to take on bad contracts and coinciding draft picks.
Chicago are gathering a plethora of young players with untapped potential. The cohesion between all the pieces leaves a lot to be desired. Parker is a four, Lauri Markkanen is a four, Wendell Carter Jr. is a four and Bobby Portis is a four. The former Bucks forward spent 40% of his time at the three, a number that could see some major growth considering the makeup of their other power forwards.
If Hoiberg is forced to play Jabari at the three (as he likely is) then the Bulls likely starting lineup (Dunn, LaVine, Parker, Markannen, Lopez) has only one above-average defender.
Surprisingly the Bulls were a better defensive team than offensive team last season, the addition of Parker and a healthier LaVine will likely flip that. A lot of the offensive success will rely on Jabari’s development as a perimeter shooter. He shot 38.3% last year in limited time, a number that Bulls’ fans would be more than happy with. Parker’s strength in transition and the pick and roll will rely heavily on his athleticism. The two ACL injuries are more than worrying especially when they’ve already invested heavily in the health of Zach Lavine.
Parker will have to learn to become more efficient offensively where last season he struggled, finishing in the 30th percentile in points per shot attempt. The ball dominance of Parker doesn’t mesh well with his new teammates either.
24.4% isn’t that lofty a number, expect that number to surely grow next season. Fred Hoiberg will have to figure out the best lineups to utilise all of his guys’ strengths and weaknesses, namely the glut they have at the power forward position.
It wasn’t the worst signing in the world by the Bulls but one that has plenty of questions surrounding health and general basketball fit.
Lance Stephenson: Los Angeles Lakers
Courtesy of SB Nation
There may be no player more suited to the L.A. lifestyle than Lance Stephenson. Stephenson has the personality that Lakers fans will embrace and hopefully as will his former ear-blow buddy, LeBron James.
Here’s hoping he busts out a few of his best dance moves on the court as well.
Lance may be one of the league’s most lovable larrikins off the court but his fit in this newly revamped Lakers’ lineup remains a question. He’s a player who’s okay at a lot of things yet not elite in any facet.
His shooting from the perimeter is terrible (30.3% for his career). We all know that the best lineups to utilise LeBron’s great talents rely heavily on solid, if not elite 3-point shooting to give James the space around the lane he’s thrived in for the past fifteen seasons.
GM Rob Pelinka wants to beat the Warriors with toughness and defense, Stephenson only really provides the team with one of those things. As an intangible quality, Lance has toughness in spades. He gives his all, though can be undone with irrationality on both ends of the floor. Coach Walton may want to mould him into his team’s own version of Marcus Smart. Don’t expect a resounding success as Smart’s defensive IQ is markedly greater.
Stephenson’s erratic nature doesn’t bode well when taking into account his most recent on/off numbers. Last season opponents had a better offensive rating (112.3) compared to when he’s off (105.2). That number got even worse in the playoffs, while the opponent on court offensive rating stayed the same, when he was on the bench the Pacers defended significantly better, keeping teams to a miserly 99.2 points per 100 possessions.
Additionally, teams had a 54.3 eFG% with Stephenson on the floor before dropping to 51.3% when he’s off. You factor those numbers into the lineups Stephenson played in and the competition he played against obviously, but they still don’t bode well.
Lance will be loved by the city of Los Angeles. I wonder if LeBron and Luke will love him by the time the trade deadline comes around if his defense and 3-point shooting can’t improve.
All stats provided by Baskebtall Reference and Cleaning The Glass