This Year’s Most Underrated NBA Signings
Cody Taylor looks at some of the signings that seemed to fly under the radar.
By this point in the offseason, teams are beginning to get an idea of how their rosters will look for the upcoming season. Most of the free agency money has dried up by now and the bulk of roster moves for teams have been completed.
With rosters looking to be nearly set, it’s time to take a look back at how some teams did in free agency. Obviously, Kevin Durant stole headlines when he opted to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Other players like Al Horford, Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons shared the spotlight in free agency as well.
But what about some of the guys who didn’t receive a lot of attention? What were some of the most underrated offseason signings? Here are several players who appear to be great signings that flew under the radar:
Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns
When you factor in everything that Dudley brings to the Suns, this signing looks to be a great move. Dudley experienced the best success of his career during his first stint with the Suns from 2008-2013 and is poised to keep it going his second time around. The Suns are a young team that was very interested in adding more veterans in the locker room; they have just four players over the age of 30.
Dudley candidly told Basketball Insiders at Summer League that he knows his role on the team and is excited to help lead the younger guys. He has demonstrated that he can play in an up-tempo offense and can help stretch the floor with his ability to shoot from three-point range. He’s emerged as one of the better players in the league in the new pace-and-space style of offense.
Zaza Pachulia, Golden State Warriors
By landing Kevin Durant in free agency, the Warriors have already established themselves as one of the biggest winners of the summer. In order to sign Durant, the team had to let go of (or trade) several existing players, including Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa and Festus Ezeli among others. Losing Bogut was going to be tough, but they added a great replacement in Pachulia at less than $3 million.
Pachulia easily could have gotten much more elsewhere. Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will be the leaders on the court for the Warriors, but they also have a capable supporting cast around them highlighted by the addition of Pachulia.
Willie Reed, Miami HEAT
Signing Reed to a one-year deal at the minimum could look like a great move at the end of the season. For the HEAT, they get a guy who can be a legitimate force in the paint behind Hassan Whiteside. Reed has proven that he can thrive in an up-tempo offense and can also be a shot blocker. His average of 3.4 blocks per-48 minutes last season for the Brooklyn Nets gives the HEAT an idea of what he can do when given a bigger role.
The HEAT have been interested in Reed for a long time and this situation could be what’s needed for Reed to establish himself as a player who belongs in the NBA. Based on what Reed has been posting to social media, it looks as though he’s been in the gym all summer long and is ready to go for this upcoming season.
D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic
The general reaction to the Magic’s moves this offseason has been mixed at best, but adding a proven backup point guard in Augustin looks to be a solid acquisition. Augustin previously played for Frank Vogel during the 2012-13 season in Indiana and has some familiarity with Vogel’s style of play. The team is hoping he’ll be able to help the team win now.
The team added C.J. Watson last season to backup Elfrid Payton, but Watson was injured for much of the season. Bringing in Augustin gives the team insurance at the backup position, which proved to be among the biggest weaknesses for the Magic last season. He’ll bring some added experience to the team’s young roster.
Festus Ezeli, Portland Trail Blazers
While the terms of the contract may be a bit questionable from Ezeli’s side, this looks like a great signing from the Blazers’ side of things. The addition of Ezeli adds a proven player in the frontcourt and gives them a two-way player they have desperately needed. His per-48 stats from last season immediately jump off of the page: 19.9 points, 16 rebounds and 3.1 blocks.
Ezeli will have a chance to earn significant minutes for the Blazers after averaging just 16.7 minutes per game last season with the Warriors. He won’t be asked to be the team’s top scorer with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum handling the bulk of the scoring duties, so he won’t be needed to do anything out of his element. Ezeli is only fully guaranteed for this season, so if things don’t work out, Portland can move on.
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets
Williams had a resurgence in his career with the Hornets and he’s back for another four years. He averaged 11.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season and thrived in Steve Clifford’s offense as the stretch-four, knocking down a career-high 40.2 percent of his three-point attempts.
Marreese Speights, Los Angeles Clippers
Adding Speights behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin seems to be a great move for the Clippers. More importantly, it gives the team a big man who can shoot a bit, as Speights hit 38.7 percent of his three-point shots last season. The Clippers have been in need of a floor-spacing big man for a long time now. Speights joins the Clippers on a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum and is among the best bargain signings as well.
Willy Hernangomez, New York Knicks
After drafting Hernangomez last year in the second round, he joins the Knicks this season and looks to be able to step in right away and help the team. He’s still relatively unknown to NBA fans after playing in Spain, but brings a lot to the floor offensively. He won’t be counted on to come in and play a ton of minutes so that figures to be beneficial for him, as there likely won’t be a lot of pressure on him during his first season in the NBA.
Only time will tell how these signings will pan out, but they appear to be good moves that were a bit underrated. With so many of the top players changing teams and stealing the majority of the headlines, it’s easy to see how these moves didn’t receive as much love as they should have.
Which players did we miss? Would you have added anyone else? Hit the comments and let us know!
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