The 2013-14 NBA regular season is rapidly approaching, with less than two months separating us from opening night. In turn, rosters are taking shape and the league is being restructured with the moves teams made this summer.
The question is, which signings aren't getting enough attention for how they will impact the postseason picture?
Certain teams addressed glaring voids that had been holding them back in recent seasons, bringing in high-quality players to help their respective teams. Others had a strong core in place but were lacking the role players who could push them over the edge.
Here are the players who helped those teams make the leap.
Jose Calderon, Dallas Mavericks
Position: Point Guard
Experience: 8 Seasons
2012-13 Season Averages: 18.80 PER, 11.3 PPG, 7.1 APG, 2.4 RPG, 46.1% 3PT
In 2012-13, the Dallas Mavericks quietly went from below .500 to postseason contention. After starting at 13-23, the Mavericks were 28-18 during their final 46 games, using Dirk Nowitzki's return from injury to spark extraordinary play.
If you think the Mavericks are anything less than drastically improved in 2013-14, I'm not sure how you evaluate rosters.
There's no question that Monta Ellis will add a new dynamic in Dallas, but the truly critical signing is Jose Calderon. Darren Collison had a strong season, but the Mavericks had inconsistency at point guard throughout the year.
Calderon, meanwhile, is one of the top 10 offensive point guards in the NBA.
During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, Calderon averaged 7.1 assists and shot a league-best 46.1 percent from three-point range. Prior to 2012-13, Calderon averaged at least 8.3 assists in four of his previous five seasons.
Calderon is a liability defensively, but for a Mavericks offense that already has two top-tier scorers in Ellis and Nowitzki, his presence is invaluable. Whether he's working off the ball and shooting the three-ball or facilitating, the Spanish star will be trusted with the same role as Jason Kidd.
Expect Dallas to pick up where it left off last season with a superstar, Dirk, and a future Hall of Fame coach, Rick Carlisle.
Mike Dunleavy, Chicago Bulls
Experience: 11 Seasons
2012-13 Season Averages: 13.64 PER, 25.9 MPG, 10.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 42.8% 3PT
If there was only one under-the-radar signing worth noting, it'd be Mike Dunleavy to the Chicago Bulls. The 32-year-old has made a living as one of the most reliable players in the NBA, shooting the ball with efficiency and using his size to be a quality team defender.
After the Bulls ranked 29th in three-point field goals made per game, Dunleavy is the most welcome sight of the summer.
The 32-year-old is a career 37.2 percent shooter from three-point range, but he seems to be getting better with age. He's shot 39.9 percent or better in each of the past three seasons and has even upped his average three-pointers made per contest as his career has carried on.
In 2012-13, Dunleavy shot 42.8 percent from distance, eighth in the NBA, and made 128 threes, which ranked in the top 40.
For the Bulls, Dunleavy should serve as the player who can step into three-point field goals in transition. In the half court, Dunleavy should provide the spot-up force that Derrick Rose needs to be an effective slasher.
It's not flashy, but Dunleavy is the type of role player that can transform the culture of a second unit. That's exactly what he'll do in Chicago.
Mo Williams, Portland Trail Blazers
Position: Point Guard
Experience: 10 Seasons
2012-13 Season Averages: 14.47 PER, 12.9 PPG, 6.2 APG, 2.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 38.3% 3PT
According to HoopsStats.com, the Portland Trail Blazers starters averaged the most points per game, 79.0, of any starting lineup in the NBA. Still, Portland went 33-49, losing its final 13 games and missing the postseason.
So how did the best offensive starting lineup in the league fail to reach the playoffs? An absence of depth.
The Blazers were dead last in second unit scoring, receiving just 18.5 points per game from their second unit, per HoopsStats.com. The Indiana Pacers were second-to-last, averaging 24.1 bench points per contest—a full 5.6 points higher.
Enter Mo Williams.
Williams is one of the NBA's premier jump shooters, averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 assists with a mark of 38.3 percent from three-point range last year. That's consistent with his career mark of 38.6 percent, which is music to Portland's ears after it shot 35.3 percent from distance in 2012-13.
Williams isn't the only notable signing, but he's the key, as he can provide time for Lillard to rest and work alongside C.J. McCollum to help expedite his development.
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