NBA Free Agency 2012: 10 Signings That Will Have the Biggest Impact Next Season
The 2012 summer of free agency has been one of the most exciting in recent memory, with big names like Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Jamal Crawford getting a much-needed change of scenery.
There's no shortage of free-agent moves that will have a major impact on not only the next NBA season, but also on the balance of power across the board in the NBA.
While teams like the Miami Heat and the L.A. Lakers simply added to their already talented rosters, other teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns signed players who can help change the culture of their franchises.
Ahead is a ranking of the top 10 free-agent signings that will have the biggest impact on the 2012-13 season.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Green, F, Boston Celtics
2010-11 Per-Game Stats: 13.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 44.9 FG%
ESPN is reporting that Jeff Green and the Boston Celtics have a framework in place for a plan that will help him return to the Celtics next season.
Green missed the entire 2011-12 season with a heart condition, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to return and be productive. Once he is able to readjust to the speed of the game and add some strength to his frame again, he will certainly be an explosive force coming off the bench for the Celtics.
Green's production from the 2010-11 season was something the Celtics desperately needed this past season, and he will be able to bring that once again in due time.
10. Michael Beasley, SF, Phoenix Suns
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 11.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 44.5 FG%
When Michael Beasley is playing to his full potential, he is one of the most athletically gifted and offensively explosive players in the NBA.
Signing Beasley and his potential to a three-year deal—as reported by CBS Sports—was a very wise move for the Suns to make, mainly because they lacked a legitimate level of athleticism on their roster last season.
When Beasley is healthy and playing in the right system, he can put up explosive production like he did back in the 2010-11 season when he averaged 19.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Playing with Goran Dragic will allow Beasley to be one of the more productive new signings of the 2012 offseason.
9. Nick Young, SG, Philadelphia 76ers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 40.3 FG%
ESPN's own Marc Stein reported that the Philadelphia 76ers have agreed in terms with Nick Young in a deal that will help ensure that the 76ers don't lose much production on the wing after seeing Lou Williams leave via free agency.
While Young isn't the most efficient shooting guard in the NBA, he's physically gifted at 6'6'' and 200 pounds. Young certainly knows how to score the ball, which is what they lacked last season.
Young certainly won't be a legitimate threat on the defensive side of the ball, but he'll make up for that with his range on the offensive side. Young will thrive under Doug Collins' coaching, where he'll be forced to be a more patient, more efficient player.
8. Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn Nets
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 21.0 points, 8.7 assists, 40.7 FG%
Deron Williams re-signing with the Brooklyn Nets for five years and $98 million (as reported by ESPN) is certainly a major signing of the 2012 offseason.
Williams' decision to stay in Brooklyn will not only impact the Nets' 2012-13 season, but it will also impact the Mavericks' season, as they were hoping they could reel him in as their point guard of the future.
The only reason why Williams re-signing with Brooklyn isn't higher on this list is because he won't be able to do it alone with the Nets. While adding Joe Johnson is a great move, we've yet to see what kind of player he'll be in Brooklyn.
With some chemistry between them, Johnson and Williams could become one of the most productive backcourt duos in the NBA, which would move this signing up the charts.
7. Jamal Crawford, SG, L.A. Clippers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.0 points, 3.2 assists, 38.4 FG%
Jamal Crawford had a pretty rough season last year, but that reflects the talent he had around him more than it reflects his own, and the L.A. Clippers certainly know that.
Crawford and the Clippers agreed to a four-year deal worth $25 million, as reported by Sam Amick of SI.com. The Clippers may have overpaid a bit, but if he can return to his 2009-10 Sixth Man of the Year form, he'll help the Clippers out of the first round in the West.
Chris Paul, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Blake Griffin will help the Clippers spread the floor, which will make it easier for Crawford to find open space and create high-percentage shots for himself. While he might not be as productive in 2012-13 as he was a few years ago, there's no doubt that his versatile offensive skills will be a nice addition for the Clippers.
6. Ray Allen, SG, Miami Heat
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 45.3 3PT%
Just when you thought the Miami Heat couldn't get better, they went out and agreed to a three-year deal with shooting guard Ray Allen, as reported by ESPN.
Allen is certainly an upgrade at the shooting guard position off the bench for the Heat. His 40 percent career shooting percentage from beyond the arc will be a perfect complement to the drive-and-dish abilities of both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
If Allen was a few years younger and could be inserted into the Heat's starting lineup, he'd undoubtedly be higher on this list. Coming off the bench, though, is best for both parties, as he'll be able to come in and knock down three-point shots while he helps the Heat in their pursuit of back-to-back titles.
5. Kirk Hinrich, PG, Chicago Bulls
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 6.6 points, 2.8 assists, 41.4 FG%
Having Kirk Hinrich at No. 5 on this list might seem like a stretch, but without Derrick Rose for a stretch of the 2012-13 season, the Bulls will desperately need a veteran point guard who can run the offense, and that's who Hinrich is.
ESPN is reporting that Hinrich has agreed to a two-year deal with the Bulls, and not only is that a great move for the Bulls, it's a great move for Hinrich, too. He isn't going to set Chicago on fire with his production, but he'll be efficient at the point while keeping more productive players like Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer involved in the offense.
More important than Hinrich's control of the offense will be his tenacity on the defensive side of the ball, which is something the Bulls would lack in the backcourt without him. With Hinrich in the lineup, the Bulls will be able to survive until Rose returns from his torn ACL, which is something they wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.
4. Jason Terry, SG, Boston Celtics
2011-12 Per Game Stats: 15.1 points, 3.6 assists, 43.0 FG%
The "Jet" has landed in Boston, as reported by ESPN, and that's great news for a Celtics team that needed consistency at the shooting guard position.
While you could argue that the Celtics would be better off with Ray Allen instead of Terry, there's no arguing that Terry is the healthier player, and the lack of health last season is something that hurt the Celtics down the stretch.
In his 13 seasons in the NBA, Terry has missed only a handful of games, and his average career production of 16.1 points, 4.7 assists per game and 1.3 steals per game is something the Celtics will rely on throughout next season.
Terry is a more versatile player than Allen, and that will pay dividends down the stretch of the 2012-13 season.
3. Goran Dragic, PG, Phoenix Suns
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 11.7 points, 5.3 assists, 46.2 FG%
Goran Dragic has all the talent and experience needed to be the second coming of Steve Nash in Phoenix, after sources told ESPN.com that Dragic and the Suns had reached a verbal agreement on a four-year deal worth $34 million.
After flip-flopping between Phoenix and Houston, Dragic is in Phoenix to stay. With Nash is gone, Dragic will get the minutes he deserves, and because of that, he'll be able to put up impressive double-double production like he did this past year when he averaged 18 points and 8.4 assists per game as a starter.
With talent like Marcin Gortat, Michael Beasley, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye, Dragic has all the pieces in place that he needs to become an All-Star point guard in the NBA. Next year will be a major season for Dragic, as he'll finally have the chance to shine that he's deserved for so long.
2. Brandon Roy, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
2009-10 Per-Game Stats: 21.5 points, 4.7 assists, 47.3 FG%
The Minnesota Timberwolves may have made the steal of free agency by agreeing to terms with Brandon Roy on a two-year deal worth $10.4 million, as reported by ESPN.
When Roy was healthy, he averaged around 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, which is exactly the kind of production the Timberwolves have needed at the shooting guard position for the past few seasons. While there's no guarantee that Roy will play like he was before his knees gave out on him, if he is even half as productive as he used to be, the Timberwolves will be making an upgrade on the wing.
Roy's range will help spread the court for the Timberwolves, which will in turn open up the floor for Ricky Rubio. With Roy on the court, Rubio will be more dangerous. Teams will also have to lessen their defensive focus on Kevin Love, which will help make him an even more productive and efficient player.
Roy to the Timberwolves could end up being the best move of free agency, and it certainly turns the T'Wolves into an immediate playoff contender in the West, which is something they haven't been since Kevin Garnett took his talents to Boston.
1. Steve Nash, PG, L.A. Lakers
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.5 points, 10.7 assists, 53.2 FG%
After the sign-and-trade of the decade sent Steve Nash to the L.A. Lakers—as reported by ESPN—the Lakers have quickly transitioned into a legitimate title contender coming out of the West.
Sure, Nash is 38 years old, but that doesn't change the fact that he's one of the most complete and efficient point guards in the game. Nash is the All-Star point guard that Kobe Bryant has never had the chance to play with, and that's going to make the "Black Mamba" that much more dangerous.
With Nash running the point and creating offense for players like Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers are going to be a very difficult team to stop. The great thing about Nash is that, while he's a great facilitator of the game, he's also a dangerous shooter, putting up a career average of 14.5 points per game on 49.1 percent shooting.
Nash will easily help the Lakers compete for a title during the 2012-13 season, and that's something they certainly wouldn't have been able to do without him.
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