2012 NBA Free Agency Awards

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIAugust 14, 2012

2012 NBA Free Agency Awards

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    NBA fans have plenty of free-agent signings to rave and rant about. The Miami Heat were clever enough to sign Ray Allen for just $3 million. The Houston Rockets threw a combined $50 million over three years at Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, two players who are worth nothing more than the seventh or eighth spot on a roster.

    In between the Allen end and the Lin/Asik ends of the spectrum is a wide array of signings. Some of them bring value, others raise questions.

    The offseason saw particular deals that were intended to either tweak a team's roster or bolster its competitive potential. Signings of rotational scorers like Courtney Lee and Jerryd Bayless helped their respective team gain a shooting edge.

    Deals to pick up point guards like Goran Dragic and D.J. Augustin were made to alter a team's trajectory.

    Which signing was the best? Which brought the greatest value?

    Follow along to see the awards that answer these and several other questions.

Best Re-Signing: Deron Williams

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    Among the players the Brooklyn Nets re-signed, the one guy they absolutely needed was Deron Williams. Williams has been the biggest producer by far among Nets players. Williams averaged 21 points per game—7.2 points more than the next highest-scoring Net. Also, he held a 46.6 percent assist rate.

    Many point guards, such as Steve Nash and Ramon Sessions, were available on the free-agent market. However, the best bet for the Nets was to retain Williams. Williams had guided MarShon Brooks and other young Nets through a rough season.

    Now, the Nets will hope that he can guide them to greener pastures with his skills in scoring and facilitating.

Worst Offseason Signing: Omer Asik

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    How amazing it is that the Houston Rockets followed up one insane signing of a quality backup player with another. A few short days after signing Jeremy Lin to a three-year, $25 million contract, the Rockets signed Omer Asik to a deal of the same number of years and total dollars.

    Lin might be a mechanical, turnover-prone point guard, but at least he does some redeemable things on offense. Lin is at least scoring in double figures.

    Meanwhile, Asik isn’t really capable of that. Asik has scored in double figures in three games in each of his two NBA seasons. He averages 2.9 points per game and produced 101 points per 100 possessions on his career.

    What he does doesn’t merit that outrageous salary. He just defends the basket well and sets screens effectively. Perhaps the Rockets were hoping for someone who could be the defensive specialist that Samuel Dalembert was. But at least Dalembert is able to handle a few shots per game when the ball comes to him.

    Also, Dalembert always had more defensive range than Asik does. Dalembert could step up and guard the perimeter or invade passing lanes, which Asik doesn't do.

    Asik's package is limited, rendering his actual value much lower than his price.

Best Offseason Signing: Ray Allen

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    Ray Allen gives the Heat just what they were missing. He’ll be a three-point shooter who can spread the floor. Allen hit a career-high 45.3 percent of his three-point attempts in 2011-12. The Heat were 10th in the league in three-point shooting, but ranked 20th in three-point attempts.

    They had players who could hit three-pointers, like Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller, but the signing of Allen, along with that of Rashard Lewis, gives Miami enough long-range shooting to open things up.

    Also, Allen presents a reliable third backcourt scoring option for the Heat. When LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can’t come through on offense, they can kick it out to Allen.

    Allen gives the Heat the offensive flexibility that they had been lacking before. With this new scoring option, the Heat will be even more dangerous as they defend their title.

Got What You Earned Award: O.J. Mayo

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    Mayo had been poised for a huge free-agent payout. He had been the only scoring option off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2011-12 season. Mayo averaged 12.6 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting.

    His scoring profile slipped hard in the playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Mayo averaged 8.9 points per game on 27.4 percent shooting. Mayo scored five points per game on 18.2 percent shooting in the last five games of the seven-game series.

    That delivered a huge blow to the free-agent star of the fourth-year pro. Teams that would have given him $10 million would have wanted someone who could hit shots effectively and deliver when it matters most. Mayo didn't show that he was capable of doing that in the playoffs against the Clippers.

    Mayo ended up receiving $8.5 million in a two-year deal from the Dallas Mavericks. The sum was less than what he might have hoped for.

    Nonetheless, that's what he earned, based on his postseason performance.

Best Value Signing: Jodie Meeks

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    Jodie Meeks was one of the most exciting free agents on the market this offseason due to his great scoring ability. In his second season (2010-11), he averaged 10.5 points in 27.9 minutes per game while shooting 42.5 percent from the field. This past season, he averaged 8.4 points in 24.9 minutes per game.

    He's also a solid three-point shooter, hitting 39.7 percent from downtown in 2010-11 and 36.5 percent in 2011-12.

    Meeks' scoring potential was evident to the Los Angeles Lakers, who gave him a two-year, $3 million deal, with the second year being an option year.

    Meeks will start out as a backup, but he should be able to push himself into a starting role in this aging backcourt. If he can further his skills as a scorer and continue to improve his defense, then he could replace Metta World Peace in the lineup, making it a three-guard lineup.

    The former second-round pick from Kentucky will at least deepen the Lakers' bench for now. His ability to put up a good amount of points while not playing a tremendous amount of minutes will be extremely valuable to the Lakers.

Most Overpaid Player: Jeff Green

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    The Boston Celtics did a wonderful job of putting money to poor use by handing Jeff Green a four-year, $36 million contract.

    That's right. The same Jeff Green who had heart surgery last year.

    Green wasn't any sort of up-and-comer before his heart surgery. He averaged 16.5, 15.1 and 13.3 points per game in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11, respectively.

    He's a 44.5 percent shooter for his career, which is unspectacular for someone who hangs his hat on his shooting ability.

    Whether he'll come back to his pre-surgery level is questionable. To say that he'll score enough to be worth his pay is even more difficult.

Unfortunate Landing Spot: Ramon Sessions

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    Ramon Sessions might have thought he could do better for himself by not taking the $4.5 million option that was on the table for him to re-up with the Lakers.

    Instead, he ended up with a far worse team.

    Sessions ended up signing with the Charlotte Bobcats, who set the record for lowest winning percentage in NBA history last season.

    Nothing says "off course" like going from a perennial playoff team to the worst team in the NBA.

    Sessions will have to wait around for a few years—at least—as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo develop in order to taste postseason action with Charlotte.