Updated Impact Meter for All New Acquisitions in the NBA
Two of the biggest offseason acquisitions—Steve Nash and Andrew Bynum—have yet to play significant minutes this year, but plenty of other players who changed addresses are already making an impact on their new teams.
Surprisingly, the stars with the biggest contracts aren't necessarily the ones who have had most of the success this season.
A change of scenery has done wonders for talents such as O.J. Mayo and Omer Asik, while others have yet to live up to the expectations of their recently signed deals. There's still plenty of season left before a final assessment can be made, but with the first quarter of the year in the books, now is as good of a time as any to begin the evaluation process.
(Note: Statistics are accurate as of Dec. 16)
Kyle Lowry, Toronto
Point guard Kyle Lowry is having what could be considered his best season, but the Philadelphia native hasn't been able to change the fortunes of his current employer all that much.
Lowry is averaging 15.8 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game, yet despite his efforts, Toronto has struggled to a 6-19 start. The Raptors have won two straight with Jose Calderon at the point while Lowry recovers from a partial triceps tear, so perhaps head coach Dwane Casey needs to figure out a way to get both of his playmakers on the floor at the same time.
Jeremy Lin, Houston
No one expected a reprise of "Linsanity" in Houston, but not many expected Jeremy Lin to shoot less than 40 percent from the floor, either.
Lin has had flashes of brilliance this season (38 points and seven assists against San Antonio on Dec. 10), but most of his performances have been pedestrian at best. Based solely on his numbers (10.8 points, 6.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds per game), the 24-year-old isn't living up to the terms of the three-year, $25 million contract that he signed this summer.
If Lin can become a bit more consistent, he has the potential to be one of the league's better lead guards for years to come.
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans
After a breakout 2011-12 season with the Orlando Magic, Ryan Anderson is having similar success with New Orleans this year (18.6 points, 7.6 rebounds per game).
His play hasn't yet translated into many wins for the Hornets, but they would be markedly worse without Anderson's efforts. The 24-year-old power forward could soon have an impact on another team, however: Anderson is one of the league's hottest commodities now that New Orleans can trade him to any interested suitor.
Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota
Thanks to the lockout, Andrei Kirilenko spent the entire 2011-12 campaign playing in Russia for CSKA Moscow. Now that he's back in the U.S. and starring for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 31-year-old forward is in the midst of his best season in nearly a decade.
The Timberwolves were without Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love at the start of the year, but the strong, all-around play of Kirilenko (13.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.8 blocks) has made Minnesota a surprise playoff contender.
While many consider Kirilenko as nothing more than a complementary talent, he's arguably been the Timberwolves' most valuable player this season.
Raymond Felton, New York
When making a list of the league's best point guards, quite a few players will be debated before Raymond Felton's name is ever mentioned. Yet somehow, Felton is the perfect playmaker for an 18-5 New York team that has run roughshod over the NBA.
Felton's accuracy from beyond the arc this season (40.6 percent) is better than it has ever been before, and his ability to knock down the three makes it easier for his teammates to operate in the frontcourt.
It's strange to think that a man who has been on four teams in four years could have such an impact, but it's hard to deny what Felton has given the Knicks so far this year.
Andre Iguodala, Denver
The Denver Nuggets haven't been all that impressive this year, though much of that is attributable to a road-heavy early-season schedule. Swingman Andre Iguodala has been similarly unmemorable, yet the reasons behind that are unclear.
His scoring is up (13.8 points per game), but he's averaging fewer assists than he did in 2011-12 while turning the ball over at a much higher rate. Even Iguodala's trademark defense has taken a step back this season: His defensive rating of 108 is one of the worst marks of his career.
Jason Terry, Boston
It's not an issue that Jason Terry isn't scoring as much as he did in Dallas: His role with the Boston Celtics is entirely different.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are the primary options on offense, and Terry's job—which he has done fairly well—is to knock down the open shots when called upon. Terry isn't the second coming of Ray Allen, but his 11.7 points per game are still pretty good.
Boston's problems are largely attributable to its lack of rebounding, not due to any deficiencies in the team's backcourt.
Omer Asik, Houston
Omer Asik was little more than a role player with the Chicago Bulls over the past two seasons, so the Houston Rockets' decision to give him a three-year, $25 million contract was met with a healthy amount of skepticism.
Asik is the rare player whose performance in limited action was an accurate representation of how he would play when given 30-plus minutes per game. Asik's numbers this year (10.3 points, 11.6 rebounds per game) have been stellar, and the decision by general manager Daryl Morey to sign the Turkish center to such a lucrative deal looks smarter every day.
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn
After a slow start, Joe Johnson finally seems to be putting it together for the Brooklyn Nets.
Johnson has struggled with consistency this season, but he is now in the midst of his first stretch this year in which he has scored 15 or more in four straight games.
His grade for the first quarter is a little better than a C, as this has easily been Johnson's worst campaign in the past nine years. It's a good thing that the Nets are doing fairly well, or else there would be a fair amount of venom directed towards "Iso-Joe" and the rest of his Brooklyn teammates.
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
It's hard to classify Dwight Howard's impact on the Los Angeles Lakers as anything higher than medium due to the team's lackluster start.
The team's defensive problems aren't his fault, but Howard's sub-50 percent performance at the charity stripe has made things noticeably more difficult for the Lake Show. Howard is still the best center in the NBA (with 18.2 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest), and when July rolls around, he'll be the most sought-after free agent on the market.
Howard's addition to the Lakers hasn't led to the immediate success that many expected, but there's plenty of blame to go around on that front.
Ray Allen, Miami
Ray Allen has done well as the Miami Heat's designated long-range threat: He's knocked down 47 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc this season. It doesn't hurt that Allen is playing alongside one of the game's most transcendent talents, and the 37-year-old shooting guard is clearly making the best of his situation.
It's natural to want to dismiss Allen's accomplishments, but he is the only Heat player not named LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh who is averaging more than seven points per game. So while he may not be getting the headlines, Allen's contributions have been vital for a Miami team looking to make a run at a second straight title.
Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City
Kevin Martin isn't as good of a shot creator or offense initiator as his predecessor (James Harden), but he's been pretty decent as the third wheel in Oklahoma City this season.
Martin is a scorer (16.0 points per game) and little else, but his contributions on offense have helped pace the Thunder to a league-best 105.7 points per game. After trading one of its best players just before the season opener, Oklahoma City is an astonishing 19-4 thanks in large part to the efforts of the 29-year-old Martin.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
Not only is Jamal Crawford the second-leading scorer for the Los Angeles Clippers, but he might also be their most valuable player. And even though we're months away from the actual announcement, the person charged with engraving the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award can already start putting Crawford's name on the trophy.
Crawford gets buckets: This much has been apparent ever since he first stepped onto an NBA court. But the 6'6" combo guard has been especially proficient this year (16.6 points per game) as he's helped the Clippers get out to a 17-6 start.
O.J. Mayo, Dallas
As we saw in his first two NBA seasons, all O.J. Mayo needed was an opportunity. And after coming off of the bench for the better part of two seasons in Memphis, that chance wasn't going to come with the Grizzlies.
So Mayo took his talents to Dallas, and the Mavericks got themselves the steal of the offseason. Mayo is playing at an All-Star level (20.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 51.2 percent from beyond the arc), and he has held the fort down for the Mavs in Dirk Nowitzki's absence.
In terms of the playoff race, Dallas is still on the outside looking in, but Mayo's play will keep the Mavs in the hunt all season long.
James Harden, Houston
Whether or not James Harden deserves a max contract is a topic for further debate, but there's no questioning his importance to the Houston Rockets this season.
Harden is an explosive scorer (25.0 points per game—fifth in the NBA), and his ability to fill the stat sheet (5.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds) makes him one of the league's most dynamic talents. Formerly a No. 3 option in Oklahoma City, Harden's transition into a go-to guy has gone relatively well so far.
The Houston front office now needs to surround its star with the proper talent if the Rockets truly have any legitimate playoff aspirations.