Breaking down the best and worst adjustments in NBA free agency so far.
Most transparent fit: Bruce Brown, nuggets
We highlighted Utah’s lack of perimeter defenders earlier, but Denver didn’t have many either.
Hell, we watched 6’9″ forward Aaron Gordon do his best – and still fail – to slow Stephen Curry through the playoffs as the Nuggets had no one better positioned to realistically handle the task. Tough, tough scene.
From that perspective, Brown, a stocky 6’4″ utility man, can handle tougher wing assignments when needed. But beyond that, he’ll likely be much better on offense than defense. , same.
Brown is a fantastic cutter, which means Nikola Jokić is likely to telepathically hand the ball to him a few times this season. He has a career utilization rate of around 15%, which should work perfectly with a group that expects Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to return alongside the reigning two-time MVP – a trio that will launch certainly its fair share of attempts.
He was obviously used to the role when he served as a safety valve for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last season, and at two years and just $13 million, it’s hard to imagine how the Nuggets could have spent this better. silver. (They also landed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to help on defense, though it cost them impressive backup guard Monte Morris and swingman Will Barton.) The statement becomes even truer if he can replicate the numbers of three-point shot last year, which marked a career. best for him.
Least transparent cut: DeAndre Jordan, nuggets
Speaking of how the Nuggets spent their money…why did they insist on getting a DeAndre Jordan deal so quickly?
Like, we all saw Milwaukee get in trouble two years ago for seemingly building up aspects of signing and trading Bogdan Bogdanović before free agency began. We’ve seen the Bulls and Heat get tapped on the wrist for tampering with Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, respectively. We’ve all seen the potential for these accusations to be thrown around in regards to Brunson, given how long the rumors about the Knicks’ offer have been circulating.
Along the same lines: On June 30, at 6 p.m. sharp, Eastern Time,the minute free agency began – journalist Shams Charania tweeted: “Free agent center DeAndre Jordan has agreed to a deal with the Denver Nuggets, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.”
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I don’t know if I’m more confused by how Jordan was a possible first-minute signing in 2022, or that they signed him at all, given that DeMarcus Cousins - the same Cousins - who have a positive history with Nuggets coach Michael Malone and performed well with Denver last season – could have been re-signed on the cheap. (Hell, he probably still can.) Seems like a far superior player to Jordan at this point.
It remains to be seen whether Jordan, almost 34, would really have a place in the rotation. But again: you don’t usually sign guys to start free agency that you don’t intend to play. That’s why it was such a weird step.
Biggest improvement: Celtics
Maybe that takes a little qualifying, because I can imagine some might really like the Blazers’ or Sixers’ moveset. Still, among the heavyweights, it would be hard to argue that anyone has taken a bigger step forward than the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Adding a shooter like Danilo Gallinari, who hit nearly 46% of his open triples last season, was a win in itself. But after an NBA Finals in which they turned the ball around like there was no tomorrow, the Celtics looked like they could benefit from another good, solid point guard.
Enter Malcolm Brogdon, someone who instantly fills that gap while also being a great switchable defender (check), a decent outside shooter (check), a guy who can play off the ball as well as on it (check), and someone one that is a strong, steady presence that won’t be rattled by the stage (check).
I can’t help but think of Andre Iguodala who joined the Warriors in 2013-14 when I consider the potential impact Brogdon could have with Boston. Its availability has been questioned a bit in recent years. But the team hasn’t lost much depth in their acquisition and, if he’s healthy, he should register as a near-perfect pickup for the Celtics.
The team that intrigues me the most: bulls
At two years and $6.6 million, I’m a fan of Chicago — one of the worst offensive rebounding teams last season — picking up Andre Drummond. And beyond that, getting Goran Dragić to the veteran minimum is an OK pickup, one that frustrated Mavs fans would certainly have liked for themselves after losing Brunson to New York.
Still, I felt like Chicago’s biggest weakness last year, aside from durability and outside shooting from role players, was the lack of capable bodies they could throw at the best players in the league, like Giannis, Durant and LeBron. There’s no this lots of guys – usually 6’6″ and up, with good discipline and enough muscle to avoid backing off – who can realistically do the job. The best defensive teams, like Boston, have a range of people who can step in , ranging from Jayson Tatum, Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to someone like Grant Williams Then you have a team like the Bulls, who when healthy have Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball , a pair of dashing guards who play much bigger than their sizes but also struggle to stay healthy.After them comes decline: Derrick Jones Jr., Javonte Green and so on.
PJ Tucker, who got $11 million a year from the Sixers because of the kind of much-needed defenseman he is come playoff time, is the type of player Chicago still needs but hasn’t landed for a while. this offseason. Even if there isn’t a huge lineup of these guys, the Bulls — a big-market club that led the Eastern Conference for more than half of the last regular season — have no excuse. when it comes to why they have I haven’t been able to find one yet, given how glaring a problem it was for them. They were too promising for too long last season not to have come close on that front. That said, with their roster full of guards, it’s fair to wonder if someone like 22-year-old Coby White, one of the team’s best shooters, could be the odd man out and used to bring a body. larger and more versatile. defense.
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