The 10 Most Underrated Moves of the 2012 NBA Offseason

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2012

The 10 Most Underrated Moves of the 2012 NBA Offseason

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    Among the 10 most underrated moves of the NBA offseason, you won't find any headline makers.

    There also won't be any All-Stars and certainly no scoring champions.

    These players won't turn around their franchise or bring a non-contender championship aspirations.

    But what they will bring to their new clubs is hustle, energy and dependability.

    Championships are not won by individuals or even great starting lineups. Those players clearly make the path to the NBA Finals easier, but the seven-game series format makes it impossible to hide weak spots on a roster.

    As special as LeBron James was during the Heat's dominant playoff run, at times he needed a three from Mike Miller, a rebound from Udonis Haslem or even some solid decision-making from a rookie point guard (Norris Cole).

    Not all of these players are joining championship contenders, but all of them are joining teams with at least playoff hopes. Each of these players will factor in his club's playoff race, even if the media forgot to take notice these pickups.

10. Ian Mahinmi

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    Old team: Dallas Mavericks

    New team: Indiana Pacers

    Ian Mahinmi's acquisition doesn't quite meet the standards of former GM Larry Bird's savvy acquisitions that made this club a contender, but it does fill a big need on the roster.

    A 6'11", 230-lb need at that.

    In his fourth season in the NBA, Mahinmi finally showed some of the promise that made him a first-round draft pick by San Antonio in the 2005 NBA draft.

    His 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game last season could be just enough production for an Indiana bench that struggled to find interior production after Jeff Foster's injuries forced him into retirement after just 11 games.

9. Reggie Evans

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    Old team: Los Angeles Clippers

    New team: Brooklyn Nets

    Reggie Evans is as one-dimensional an NBA player as exists in the league.

    He's a rebounder who doesn't bring anything else to the table.

    But his effort on the glass is nearly unmatched by his peers.

    Despite logging fewer than 20 minutes a night over his 628 NBA games, he's grabbed an uncanny 6.8 rebounds per game.

    When the Clippers took Evans to his first postseason since a five-game trip with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2009 last year, he responded to the tune of 7.3 rebounds in 18.0 minutes per game.

    With all of the retooling that Brooklyn did over the offseason, it still stood incredibly thin on the reserve front line, and many questioned the toughness of its starting bigs.

    But after nabbing Evans in a sign-and-trade, the Nets have bolstered their energy and toughness for just $5 million over the next three seasons, according to Yahoo! Sports.

8. Nate Robinson

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    Old team: Golden State Warriors

    New team: Chicago Bulls

    Nate Robinson can thank the creaky ankles of Stephen Curry for not just making the list, but remaining on an NBA roster.

    After an ill-fated venture to Oklahoma City saw Robinson's minutes cut to a career-worst 7.5 late in 2010-11, he entered last season without a team.

    But once Curry's ankles gave out (again), Robinson jumped at the chance for good minutes and managed 11.2 points per game (and even nine starts) before the year was over.

    In Oakland, he showcased his good (scoring) and bad (decision-making), but showed enough good to warrant a spot with the championship hopeful Bulls.

    Chicago once again offers Robinson a shot at major minutes with Derrick Rose expected to miss half of the season and rookie Marquis Teague having struggled in the Las Vegas Summer League (29.4 field-goal percentage).

7. Anthony Randolph

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    Old team: Minnesota Timberwolves

    New team: Denver Nuggets

    Randolph has struggled to find consistency during his four years in the NBA (partly due to the fact that's he already set to join his fourth team), but he has enjoyed two constants since being made the 14th overall pick of the 2008 draft: a high ceiling and a higher level of emotion.

    During his stint with Minnesota, Randolph showed flashes of that potential (including posting 27.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in his first two starts), but his lack of consistency eventually forced him out of the Timberwolves' rotation.

    With Denver, he again joins a crowded frontcourt, but after Al Harrington, he may actually enjoy the best offensive resume of the Nuggets' bigs.

    With noted player development specialist George Karl at the helm, the 23-year-old Randolph may finally have the right situation to capitalize on his immense talents.

6. C.J. Watson

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    Old team: Chicago Bulls

    New team: Brooklyn Nets

    Watson's five-year NBA career has seen his growth from NBA D-League surprise to reliable NBA contributor.

    He'll never be confused for a natural point guard (with a pedestrian 2.6 assists in 20.6 minutes per game for his career), but he's a gifted scorer (7.8 points) and even better outside threat (37.2 percent three-point shooter).

    With Jordan Farmar's inclusion in the five-for-one Joe Johnson trade, Watson joins incumbent starter Deron Williams and second-round pick Tyshawn Taylor as the only point guards on Brooklyn's roster.

    In other words, his opportunity looks far better than his veteran's minimum contract might suggest.

    He's versatile enough to share the floor with Williams in stretches and could join sophomore MarShon Brooks as a leading scoring option on the second unit.

5. Randy Foye

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    Old team: Los Angeles Clippers

    New team: Utah Jazz

    Foye has fought the label "volume scorer" throughout most of his six-year NBA career.

    He's not quite talented to crack most NBA starting fives (likely including Utah), but he brings outside shooting and scoring potential to any franchise.

    He's averaged better than 11 points per game over his career, but it's his career 36.6 three-point percentage (38.6 percent last season) that could bring the biggest impact to Salt Lake City.

    With Utah's vaunted front line that could go four deep depending on how Enes Kanter develops over the summer, Foye's perimeter shooting will help create space for those Jazz bigs to operate.

    He's played alongside likely Jazz starters Mo Williams (with the Clippers) and Al Jefferson (with the Timberwolves), so Utah shouldn't have to wait to long to see a return on its nearly risk-free one-year, $2.5 million investment.

4. Jarrett Jack

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    Old team: New Orleans Hornets

    New team: Golden State Warriors

    A seven-year NBA veteran, Jack is the personification of the Warriors' transformation over the past year.

    At 6'3", 202 lbs, he's a tough, physical guard who battles on both ends of the floor.

    In other words, he'd have never seen the floor under former Warriors coach Don Nelson.

    For new coach Mark Jackson, though, Jack is exactly the type of player the team had in mind with its stated desire to get bigger and stronger.

    He enjoyed his best season to date last year, posting 15.6 points and 6.3 assists for a bad Hornets team, but his 45.6 field-goal and 34.8 three-point percentages may be the bigger reasons for excitement.

    He's reliable enough to be the first guard off Jackson's bench and talented enough to log major minutes if Stephen Curry continues to battle injuries.

3. Courtney Lee

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    Old team: Houston Rockets

    New team: Boston Celtics

    Lee has come a long way since being an energetic rookie with the Orlando Magic during their 2009 NBA Finals run.

    Unfortunately, it's been a largely forgettable journey.

    Lee managed his first double-digit output with New Jersey in 2009-10 (12.5 points) and added another last season with Houston (11.4). But he's yet to match the 45 percent field-goal shooting he showed in his rookie season and hasn't shown the overall improvement that many expected after his impressive debut.

    However, Boston would be more than content with Lee simply matching his career averages of 10 points and 38.6 percent three-point shooting. Throw in the fact that he's always been a solid defender, and Lee could work his way deeper into coach Doc Rivers' rotation.

    With the rising age of Boston's core (which now includes the 34-year-old Jason Terry), Lee could be in line for major minutes no matter how many games he starts.

2. D.J. Augustin

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    Old team: Charlotte Bobcats

    New team: Indiana Pacers

    While Indiana's run to the third seed in the Eastern Conference was largely aided by one of the league's deepest rosters, the Pacers seemed to subtract some of that depth with the departure of Darren Collison (to Dallas) and likely departure of free agent Leandro Barbosa.

    However, the arrival of D.J. Augustin should bring some relief to any worries from Pacer Nation.

    His tenure in Charlotte was largely slept on by the national media (not the first time that's happened), but he showcased his development from scorer (10.9 career) and three-point shooter (37.4 percent career) to natural point guard (6.2 assists to 2.0 turnovers over the past two seasons).

    At just 24, he still has time to further that development and already has the skill set to challenge incumbent starter George Hill (although Hill's $40 million contract suggests that the competition is over). And with starts in just 142 of his 282 career games, Augustin knows how to impact a game off the bench.

1. Ronnie Brewer

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    Old team: Chicago Bulls

    New team: New York Knicks

    Brewer isn't as one-dimensional as Reggie Evans, but he clearly makes his living on the defensive end.

    At 6'7", 220 lbs, and with freakish athleticism, Brewer has long been regarded as one of the league's elite perimeter defenders.

    Sure, his perimeter shooting is as bad as advertised (24.4 percent three-point shooter), but his career 50.1 field-goal percentage show just how effective of a scorer he can be.

    With Jared Jeffries being sent to Portland as part of the Raymond Felton trade, the Knicks had a clear need of a physical defender capable of guarding multiple positions. And with Iman Shumpert reportedly hoping for a January return, according to Laura Albanese of Newsday, Brewer should earn a spot in coach Mike Woodson's opening lineup.