NBA Players Likeliest to Go HAM After Trade Deadline
After months of hype and speculation, the 2013 NBA trade deadline passed without any real major moves. When J.J. Redick headlines the crop of players shipped out, it clearly was not the most exhilarating of days.
Still, that doesn't mean the trades that were made won't have a visible impact across the league. Even though most of the players switching jerseys were role players, those deals have a ripple effect that goes far beyond their individual stat lines.
Sometimes, dealing a backup allows a starter to shine, and in other instances going to a team with a different culture triggers a massive upswing in production. Even not being dealt can be a catalyst for improved play.
Each season, there are always a few players whose production spikes post-trade deadline, earning themselves the designation of "going HAM". For those who don't know, "going HAM" means simply to play at another level than a player had before.
With players settled for the remainder of the 2012-13 campaign, let's take a look at who is most likely to explode following the trade deadline.
All trade information courtesy of the Los Angeles Times and statistics accurate as of February 22nd.
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, Jordan Crawford was not exactly stealing minutes from Bradley Beal coming off the Washington Wizards' bench, but dealing Crawford shows the Wizards have complete confidence in their rookie shooting guard.
Beal, who is just 19 years old, started the 2012-13 campaign slowly, but he's been playing much better in 2013 and is averaging 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Though he is shooting just 39.6 percent from the field, that number is trending upwards and he's hitting on 36.9 percent of his attempted three-pointers.
Beal is a potent scorer, one capable of attacking the rim off the bounce or stepping outside and knocking down perimeter shots. He has also shown that he has clutch chops and can provide decent rebounding and passing production from the 2-guard spot.
With Crawford now a Boston Celtic, the primary competition for minutes comes from Garrett Temple, a journeyman averaging 4.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.
Leaning more heavily on Beal as an offensive playmaker has worked well for Washington after a dreadful start without John Wall, and now that the organization is 100 percent behind the Florda product, expect him to reward them with numbers closer to his February averages of 16.5 points and three rebounds on 46.3 percent shooting from the field.
Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks)
That's right, even when Josh Smith isn't traded we still find a way to talk about him in relation to the trade deadline.
Perhaps the biggest story of the 2013 NBA trade deadline was not who was moved, but who wasn't moved. The Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith was linked to a number of teams, but ultimately the Hawks backed off on a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, per ESPN's Ric Bucher.
Smith, contrary to what many expected, will now play out the 2012-13 season with Atlanta before becoming a free agent. It is widely believed that he will not remain in Atlanta for the future, meaning that he is now auditioning for the max contract he feels he deserves.
Despite never making an All-Star team, Smith is having a sensational campaign, averaging 17.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 45.9 percent from the floor and a respectable 34.2 percent from three-point range.
He has improved as a shooter and facilitator, although he still takes a few too many long jumpers. Smith is an absolutely astounding athlete with the hops to jump out of the gym and the ability to dominate a game on both ends of the court.
Although he turns the ball over a bit too often and sometimes relies on his shot-blocking instead of playing fundamental defense, Smith will certainly have his share of suitors as a free agent.
Now knowing what he has to play for and what his situation will be until June, expect J-Smoove to excel for the remainder of the season.
Arron Afflalo (Orlando Magic)
When the Orlando Magic traded for Arron Afflalo in the much-ballyhooed Dwight Howard deal, they expected him to become a franchise building block. What they did not expect, was J.J. Redick to step up and have the best season of his career, and in the process become one of the hottest names on the trade market.
Afflalo is having a strong first year in Orlando, averaging 16.7 points, 3.8 boards and three assists while connecting on 44.5 percent of his attempts from the floor and 33.9 percent from distance. He is currently logging 36.5 minutes per game, but with no one who naturally plays his position on the roster, expect his minutes to regularly hit the 40-plus mark.
A savvy defender and a player with postseason experience, Afflalo should continue to emerge as a go-to player for this young Orlando team. The rebuilding process is slow and the team may decide to outright tank for the rest of 2012-13, but they will still be leaning heavily on the 27-year-old Afflalo.
With Redick out of town and no one capable of replacing his production on the roster, Arron Afflalo should see more minutes, shots and time with the ball in his hands. He should also improve his overall play even as his team sits in the Eastern Conference cellar.
Thomas Robinson (Houston Rockets)
After being dealt from the toxic Sacramento Kings (where he was buried on the depth chart) to a Houston Rockets team with a slew of young, exciting talent, could anyone possibly be happier than Thomas Robinson post-trade deadline?
Robinson was shipped to the Rockets in the first notable move of the trade deadline, and though he was averaging just 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds on 42.4 percent shooting as a King, both of those numbers should spike as he receives more consistent minutes.
In Sacramento, Robinson was splitting time with DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and Chuck Hayes, but now he goes to a Houston team that dealt Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris, leaving them fairly thin at the four spot.
Granted the Rockets do have young pieces in Terrence Jones, Royce White and Donatas Motiejunas, but none of them are proven commodities like Cousins or Thompson and Robinson should still see a significant jump in his minutes and touches.
Robinson may be relatively raw, but he is a phenomenal athlete and a very capable rebounder. He needs to develop a post game and continue to work on his mid-range jump shot, but he should fit in great with Houston as a player that can run the floor hard, crash the glass alongside Omer Asik and play solid interior defense.
He will undoubtedly have his share of growing pains as he adapts to a more featured role on a team looking to make the playoffs, but Thomas Robinson should see a serious spike in production playing alongside Jeremy Lin and James Harden.
He may not have turned many heads in Sacramento, but there was a reason Robinson was selected fifth overall in the 2012 draft and that should become apparent in Houston.
Eric Maynor (Portland Trail Blazers)
Obviously the phrase "go HAM" is relative here, because as Damian Lillard's backup in Portland, Eric Maynor will still be putting up fairly average numbers.
However, making the leap from being the third string guard behind Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson in Oklahoma City to being the primary backup to a rookie starter, and quite possibly the Trail Blazers' best bench piece, is certainly a situational upgrade.
Since returning from an ACL tear that cost him most of the 2011-12 season, Maynor was averaging just 2.8 points and two dimes per game on 31.3 percent shooting from the field because he lost most of his minutes to Jackson. He was also playing just 10.6 minutes per night, and appeared that he would never develop as he languished on the bench.
Now, Maynor will have the opportunity to play meaningful minutes for a young team looking to sneak into the postseason. With his ability to break down a defense off the dribble and find open teammates, Maynor should be the Blazers' second-unit leader and direct their offense in a 15-20 minutes per game capacity.
He will be sharing time with Nolan Smith, but the Blazers will likely ride the more experienced Maynor harder and also play him for some stretches with the starting unit. The 6'3" Maynor can also play some shooting guard in a pinch.
Maynor won't be averaging a double-double, but he should be a difference maker off the Portland bench, something he did not have the opportunity to be anymore with the Thunder.
Rudy Gay (Toronto Raptors)
Yes, Rudy was traded on January 31st, weeks before the trade deadline, but given that the deadline was so quiet, we'll count this as a deadline deal. It is also the closest thing to a "blockbuster move" we've had since the Dwight Howard debacle.
Since joining the Toronto Raptors, Gay has averaged 20.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and a surprising 2.6 steals per game. His shooting percentages of 37.9 percent from the floor and 27.5 percent from beyond the arc are poor, but with him in the lineup, Toronto is an impressive 6-3.
In that stretch, they have bested the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets while losing only to the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies. To go 6-3 in a stretch that brutal is quite the accomplishment.
Clearly the No. 1 scoring option after sharing the load with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in Memphis, Gay is averaging 20.2 shots per contest and using his strength and quickness to attack the basket. His jumper is still average, but Gay has proven he can hit mid-range shots and the occasional three-ball.
Although it is a small sample size, Gay is playing much improved defense, sticking tight to his man and reading passing lanes well. He has also provided a presence on the glass for a Toronto team whose frontcourt heavily features Andrea Bargnani
As he becomes acclimated his field-goal percentage should increase, and though Toronto may not end up in the postseason, they have plenty to look forward to with Gay on the roster.