Impact Meter for Top New Acquisitions at NBA's Quarter-Season Mark

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

Impact Meter for Top New Acquisitions at NBA's Quarter-Season Mark

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    We're a quarter of the way through the 2012-13 NBA campaign, and it's time to assess how the top offseason acquisitions are impacting their new teams.

    The Houston Rockets added a couple of famous faces to its lineup, but how are those new pieces fitting in?

    Eastern Conference contenders New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics all have notable new guards. Which ones are stepping up the most early in the season?

    Also, there are a couple Western Conference playmakers who are exceeding expectations. Why are they thriving with their new clubs?

    Find out as we gauge the level of impact of each top new acquisition.

    *Article omits Andrew Bynum and Steve Nash due to injuries.

    *Statistics gathered from Basketball Reference, Synergy Sports and NBA.com (accurate as of 12/12/12).

Raymond Felton, New York Knicks, G

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    Stats: 33.3 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, 41 percent FG

    Impact: High

    Of all the offseason acquisitions the New York Knicks made in 2012, point guard Raymond Felton was the most important.

    Through the first quarter of the 2012-13 season, Felton has helped make 2011-12 Linsanity seem like a distant memory. He is jelling phenomenally with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd and company.

    Felton is just one of the many long-range gunners on the Knicks, and their spread sets give him ample opportunities to sink triples. When he's not busy orchestrating the pick-and-roll, he's spotting up while Kidd or 'Melo facilitates.

    He could be the X-factor that gives New York the edge over Atlanta and Miami in the postseason. 

Jason Terry, Boston Celtics, G

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    Stats: 29.6 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 2.1 APG, 46 percent FG

    Impact: Low

    Although he hasn't replaced Ray Allen as much as Celtics fans would like, Jason Terry shouldn't be punished for getting fewer touches and shot attempts.

    He's fourth on the team in scoring, which is right where he should be depth-wise. But his scoring hasn't been consistent or dependable, and he's still learning how to move the ball with a different set of personnel.

    Terry's relatively unimpressive start and Boston's fall from elite company are concerning for fans in Beantown, but he has shown glimpses of the clutch playmaking we saw in Dallas. If the Celtics make a deep run in the playoffs, he'll be a big part of their late-game exploits.

Ray Allen, Miami Heat, G

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    Stats: 26.9 MPG, 12.3 PPG, 2.1 APG, 47 percent 3-PT FG

    Impact: Medium

    Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat got one of the true steals of the offseason when they snatched Ray Allen away from the Boston Celtics.

    Heat fans are pleased with his work so far, as he's doing long-range damage as a support scorer for the Big Three.

    Allen is feasting off his newfound spot-up opportunities, as he's shooting 53 percent on spot-up triples.

    His per-minute numbers, true-shooting numbers and PER are all better than they've been in years. 

    But is it making the Heat a better team? For the most part, yes. But the true judgment of his impact won't come until June.

Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota Timberwolves, F

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    Stats: 36.0 MPG, 12.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 52 percent FG

    Impact: Medium to High

    After spending a year in Russia, Andrei Kirilenko picked up right where he left off in the NBA, but with a different team.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves are glad they picked him up. He was one of the key figures keeping the squad afloat while Kevin Love was rehabbing.

    Kirilenko's offense has been inconsistent, but that's not different from the rest of his career. He makes up for it by being in the right place at the right time, and his defense is as good as ever.

    Once everyone is healthy, including Ricky Rubio, Kirilenko will be an excellent role player on a playoff-caliber unit.

Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets, G

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    Stats: 32.8 MPG, 11.4 PPG, 6.1 APG, 40 percent FG

    Impact: Low

    I hope the whole "Linsanity" marketing phenomenon has been worth it for the Rockets. On the court, Jeremy Lin hasn't been worth the hefty sum ($8.4 million) he'll make this season.

    So far, he's a step down from what Kyle Lowry gave the team last year, both from a scoring and an assist-to-turnover standpoint.

    Fortunately, James Harden is able to pick up a bit of the facilitating slack. But the amount of ball-handling Harden is doing is an indication of Lin's unreliability.

    The underwhelming point and assist totals aren't as concerning as his 40 percent shooting from the field and 31 percent shooting from distance.

Mo Williams, Utah Jazz, G

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    Stats: 32.5 MPG, 14.2 PPG, 7.2 APG, 45 percent FG

    Impact: Medium to High

    No single player closed out the season's first quarter like Mo Williams did. His buzzer-beater toppled the San Antonio Spurs in dramatic fashion and gave the Utah Jazz a hold of the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference.

    Williams wasn't a huge loss for the Los Angeles Clippers, but he was an important addition for the guard-starved Jazz.

    He's not the best pure floor general around, but a career-best 7.2 assists per game are enough to keep the high-octane Utah offense moving.

    For the most part, he's fitting in well with his new club, and he's actually playing the most efficient all-around basketball of his career (career-high 17.8 PER).

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors, G

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    Stats: 31.0 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 5.8 APG, 41 percent FG

    Impact: Low to Medium

    Kyle Lowry was dealt to the Toronto Raptors as part of Houston's massive 2012 offseason overhaul, and he has certainly added scoring depth to the point guard position.

    His assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2) could be better, and he's sometimes too aggressive defensively. But his playmaking ability has made the Raptors a noticeably better offensive team than in 2011-12.

    Unfortunately, it hasn't translated to victories, as Toronto only has four wins to show for Lowry's efforts.

    He may have provided Toronto with an upgrade at point guard, but he's actually the worst starting point guard in the Atlantic Division.

James Harden, Houston Rockets, G

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    Stats: 38.9 MPG, 24.7 PPG, 5.6 APG, 43 percent FG

    Impact: High

    Daryl Morey changed the complexion of the Houston Rockets' future when he traded for James Harden. Will it eventually result in a championship-caliber team?

    That's a big question mark, but what we do know is Harden had one heck of a start to the 2012-13 campaign.

    Between his shooting and his passing, he's directly accounting for approximately 40 points per night for the Rockets. That number could be even greater, but he's notching 4.1 turnovers per game.

    Harden's three-point shooting leaves something to be desired, but he's such an unpredictable player to guard and a superb facilitator.

    The question is, can he manage this group and keep it in the playoff hunt even though it's living and dying by its brisk pace?

Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder, G

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    Stats: 29.5 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 1.7 APG, 47 percent FG

    Impact: Medium

    For Oklahoma City, parting ways with James Harden hurt. But getting Kevin Martin as part of the return package eased the sting.

    Martin is a vastly different player than Harden, but he has played well in his new role with the Thunder.

    He provides Scott Brooks with a supplementary offensive weapon who can stretch defenses. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook do most of the work and the playmaking, and Martin is the beneficiary.

    There's not much reason for skepticism about Martin until the playoffs, which is pretty much uncharted territory for him.

    For now, his first-quarter impact grade is solid.

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers, C

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    Stats: 36.6 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 58 percent FG, 49 percent FT

    Impact: Medium to High

    Many thought that the addition of Dwight Howard would turn the Lakers' regular season into one long tune-up to face the Miami Heat in June.

    Who knew that the first few weeks would be so turbulent?

    The Lakers have underachieved and already undergone a coaching change, but it's not all Howard's fault. Mike D'Antoni is still figuring out how to utilize everyone. The whole unit needs to improve defensively, and Pau Gasol and Steve Nash need to get healthy.

    Howard is doing his usual damage in the post and on the pick-and-roll, but there's much room for improvement in the collaboration department. Oh yeah, improved free-throw shooting would be nice too (49 percent thus far).

Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers, G

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    Stats: 29.5 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 1.9 APG, 45 percent FG

    Impact: High

    He's cooled off a bit since his bonfire start, but Los Angeles Clippers newcomer Jamal Crawford has enjoyed a fantastic month off the bench for Vinny Del Negro.

    Crawford provides that extra offensive boost the team could've used in 2011-12 after Chauncey Billups was sidelined.

    His prolific ball-handling and timely shot-creation have helped Los Angeles (16-6) become one of the most dangerous clubs in the league. He fits seamlessly into the Clippers' daily game plan because they allow him the freedom to create and take chances on offense.

    If the first quarter of the season is a hint of things to come, the Clippers will be tough to defend with three legitimate scorers.

O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks, G

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    Stats: 34.9 MPG, 20.8 PPG, 3.5 APG, 49 percent FG, 53 percent 3-PT FG

    Impact: High

    O.J. Mayo's arrival in Dallas during Dirk Nowitzki's absence was the perfect time for Mayo to showcase his skills.

    He's clearly comfortable being the Mavericks' go-to guy, as his shooting and slashing skills are consistently yielding 20-plus points.

    Is he adequately replacing Dirk? No, and they're not the same player. But he's kept the Mavericks offense dangerous, is lighting it up from long distance and is playing tough defense.

    When Darren Collison and Derek Fisher can find him open looks, he's money. Mayo is 31-of-50 (62 percent) on spot-up three-point shots thus far.

Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets, G/F

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    Stats: 35.6 MPG, 14.1 PPG, 3.7 APG, 43 percent FG

    Impact: Low

    On paper, the Denver Nuggets became a better team after they acquired Andre Iguodala as part of the Dwight Howard trade. Fans hoped his presence would bolster the defense, add depth to the offense and make the Nuggets an elite Western Conference club.

    After a quarter of the season, it hasn't worked out according to plan. The Nuggets (11-12) are struggling to keep opponents under 100 points and are floundering on the road lately.

    Denver can't blame Iggy for the collective shortcomings, but it could certainly use more offensive consistency from him. He has four 20-plus scoring nights and five single-digit scoring nights thus far.

    Luckily, the Western Conference is still in flux, which has allowed the Nuggets to remain a half-game out of the No. 8 spot.

Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets, F

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    Stats: 33.1 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 47 percent FG

    Impact: Medium to High

    Ryan Anderson isn't really built to be a first option on an NBA team, but he's doing his best to carry the New Orleans Hornets while Eric Gordon is sidelined.

    He's not a great defender and doesn't play like a 6'10", 240-pound forward, but Monty Williams is trying to maximize his ball skills.

    Anderson is mostly used on the wing and in pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop situations, but he's also fared well in select post-up situations.

    Even though he takes the most shots (and by far the most triples) on the team, he still makes a terrific 43 percent of his three-point attempts.

Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets, G

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    Stats: 37.7 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 3.7 APG, 42 percent FG

    Impact: Low to Medium

    We knew there would be an adjustment period for Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson as he joined the new-look Nets, but we didn't expect shooting numbers like this.

    Johnson has never been particularly efficient in his career, but his first quarter was worse than usual. His PER (13.2) is a full five points lower than it was in 2011-12, and his field-goal percentage (42 percent) is lower than it's been in 10 seasons.

    He gets several open looks every game, and he and Deron Williams will only grow more cohesive, so his production should gradually increase.

    But that doesn't change the fact that his first-quarter report card isn't up to standards.

     

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