Worst Buys of the 2013 NBA Offseason
The worst buys of the 2013 offseason aren't necessarily bad players. After all, they were good enough to be sought after in free agency or as a trade target.
While it's true that a good portion of these players built their reputations during a time period where efficiency and perimeter shooting mattered a little less than it does now, these are all still useful players with plenty of talent.
So what makes these guys bad buys? Whether it's because of the fit, the price or everything combined, here's a look at why these 2013 offseason acquisitions were bad investments.
Detroit Pistons: Josh Smith
In a league obsessed with shooting and floor spacing, the Detroit Pistons decided to go the opposite direction this offseason by signing Josh Smith.
Make no mistake: Smith is an incredible player. He's an elite defender and shot-blocker, he's a very capable high-post passer, and he's a great athlete. But he can't shoot. Worse yet? He doesn't seem to realize it.
Smith is a 28 percent career three-point shooter who has chucked up a combined 464 attempts from behind the arc the last three seasons. Greg Monroe offers no stretch, Andre Drummond is out of his range on anything he can't dunk, and Brandon Jennings is just an average perimeter shooter. Teams will sag in the paint and dare the Pistons to beat them.
That's a problem. The Pistons likely secured a playoff spot in a conference that's largely rebuilding, but they also blew their financial flexibility and may have stunted the development of their young studs by bringing in a player who just doesn't mesh.
Smith is a great player, but he's a terrible fit.
Dallas Mavericks: Monta Ellis
The Dallas Mavericks are going to shoot an absurd amount of mid-range jumpers next year. That's okay if Dirk Nowitzki is taking the strong majority of them, but he'll have serious competition from Monta Ellis.
Ellis can definitely score and get hot. But in a perfect world, he'd be a sixth man. Defensively, he can't cover anyone or offer any help, and offensively, he relies on the least efficient shot in basketball to be effective.
But Ellis' flaws aren't even the big issue here. What in the world is Dallas doing? The Mavs aren't defending or contending for a title this year, and now they have lots of future money tied up in a backcourt (Jose Calderon and Ellis) that doesn't place them anywhere but in basketball purgatory. Not good enough to seriously compete, but not bad enough to get good draft picks.
Let's call it like it is. Ellis was a desperation signing from a franchise making decisions with its heart (for Nowitzki's sake), instead of its head.
Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson
Add another team to the list of buyers this offseason that spent money just to say it did. Does Al Jefferson really change the direction of the Charlotte Bobcats franchise?
Sure, baby steps are important, but not at that cost. Jefferson is slated to make $13.5 million a year for the next three seasons, none of which the Charlotte Bobcats will likely be competitive in.
If Jefferson were a better player, it would be easier to change the tune. Yes, he's a very productive low-post scorer, which is a rarity in the league today. But he also never draws fouls (2.8 free-throw attempts a game last year), and more importantly, he's useless defensively. He can't stop pick-and-rolls, he can't protect the rim, and he isn't a very good help defender.
If I'm spending $40 million dollars on a player, I'd at least like to think he could help the league's worst defense improve. I don't think Jefferson moves the needle much in fan interest or on the floor.
New Orleans Pelicans: Tyreke Evans
There are an awful lot of questions to be asked about Tyreke Evans and his fit with the New Orleans Pelicans. Can he co-exist with Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon, two guards who really look for their own shot quite a bit? Can he be comfortable in a sixth man role? Can you invest that much in a wing who hasn't been a good shooter in the past?
There are questions surrounding Evans himself as well. Why hasn't he improved since his rookie year? Will he ever be able to shake the nagging injuries?
It's a risky move for the Pelicans, and perhaps they would have been better off waiting for a small forward who fit a little better without sacrificing valuable assets like Greivis Vasquez and Robin Lopez in the process.
Anthony Davis is only in his second year, and it just feels a little early in the game to push so many chips towards the center of the table with Evans.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Jack
This bad move is more about Dion Waiters than it is Jarrett Jack.
Jack is a perfectly fine sixth man who can create his own shot. There's value in that, and he's a solid defender. Sure, he'll drive you a little crazy with his shot selection, but he's a net-positive player overall.
Problem is, he's occupying the role Dion Waiters should be playing. Waiters fits the classic profile of a sixth man, and his fit in the starting lineup next to Kyrie Irving is a shaky one. Irving could really use a spot-up shooter and defender in the backcourt next to him, but Waiters is more of a slasher.
Are there enough balls to go around for the Cleveland Cavaliers? The current three-headed backcourt is comprised of players who all need the ball in their hands to be effective offensively. That's an issue.
Again, Jack is a good player, but there were better fits available for the Cavs on the market.
Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo
The Milwaukee Bucks refuse to bottom out, and the signing of O.J. Mayo is the latest indication that they are just fine competing for the eighth seed every year.
That's really a shame, mainly because Mayo himself is probably a better player than people credit him for. He's a very good three-point shooter (40.7 percent last year) who can create for himself, and when he's engaged, he's capable of being a good defender.
It's the effort level, focus and motivation you worry about with Mayo. There were times last year where he quit on his team and phoned it in defensively. He's a scorer who can be more than that, but he often doesn't choose to be. Is that worth $24 million over three years?
It depends on which Mayo shows up every night. After five seasons in the league, there's a lot of evidence that would lead you to believe the Bucks might be getting an average shooting guard that will help them remain an average team.
Milwaukee Bucks: Zaza Pachulia
The Milwaukee Bucks are the only repeat offender on this list, and again, it's more of an indictment on their plan than on the actual personnel.
You know exactly what you're going to get from Zaza Pachulia. He'll play hard. He'll defend and rebound, and he'll give you consistent, steady frontcourt production.
There's certainly a value in that. But you know what? There's also a value in letting your young players see the floor and develop.
John Henson could very well be a star. In limited time in his rookie year, he posted an 18.2 PER and ridiculous per-36 averages of 16.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a game. That's Anthony Davis territory.
The Bucks should want to see more of Henson, but instead, they appear ready to give a good portion of his potential minutes to Pachulia instead. Rarely does a team spend money to create a frontcourt logjam (again), but that's what happened here.
Denver Nuggets: J.J. Hickson
High-energy player. Gets tons of offensive rebounds. Great athlete. Undersized. Poor defender.
I just described J.J. Hickson. Problem is, I just described Kenneth Faried as well.
After a disastrous offseason where the Denver Nuggets lost a general manager, fired the reigning coach of the year and lost their best player to a conference rival, signing J.J. Hickson was probably the biggest move they made.
It's a questionable one though, primarily because of the aforementioned overlapping skill sets, but also because of how defense is being completely ignored in Denver. Randy Foye can't stay with anyone, Corey Brewer and Andre Iguodala will no longer be there to create havoc on the wings, and putting J.J. Hickson with Faried or JaVale McGee is asking for breakdowns all over the floor. This was a pointless signing.
New York Knicks: Andrea Bargnani
Just because it's free doesn't mean it's good.
The New York Knicks didn't have to give up any significant current talent to take a chance on Andrea Bargnani, but that doesn't make it a smart decision. Even if Bargnani returns to the mean and starts shooting the ball better, he'll still be disastrous defensively and on the glass. Can a competing team have two overpaid power forwards who can't defend a soul?
The Knicks are still one Tyson Chandler injury away from being one of the worst defensive teams in the game, and Bargnani's presence makes that even more true.
Perhaps more importantly, how many times does trading a future first-round pick have to come back to bite them before the Knicks stop doing it? I'd rather take a chances on a first rounder panning out than on Bargnani reviving his career and not killing the Knicks defensively.