A few trades sprinkled in between the free agent signings, here is the latest batch of players with new homes.
Emeka Okafor—New Orleans Hornets
Okafor certainly isn’t a stiff, but his athleticism and basketball movements are more mechanical than fluid. As such, his post moves are crude and clunky, and not reliable enough to be a featured player. He doesn’t pass well, doesn’t have great court awareness, and can’t shoot.
He’s a diligent rebounder and shot blocker who can defend post scorers with some measure of success, though he has trouble navigating screens and defending the perimeter, and being in the right place at the right time.
With David West in tow, Okafor will be a nice boost as a secondary post scorer, though on the flip side, his lack of fluidity may hinder New Orleans’s screen/roll sprints. Whereas Tyson Chandler could cut faster than defenses could react, Okafor isn’t as fleet. This could slow down New Orleans’ staple play.
And defensively, Okafor isn’t as ferocious and energetic as Chandler.
In fact, Okafor’s best quality as a human being may be his undermining as a player. He’s too well-rounded a person. Unfortunately, the best NBA players are those who obsess about the basketball and have the game traveling through their blood.
Expect Okafor to be just good enough in New Orleans to ultimately disappoint.
Tyson Chandler—Charlotte Bobcats
When healthy, there are few better all-around defenders at the center position than Chandler. He’s a smart help defender, a ferocious shot blocker, and a terrific perimeter defender who can stay with a variety of perimeter oriented big men while having the speed to show on screens while recovering to his man.
His on ball defense isn’t as good as he has a tendency to get overpowered by scorers with more bulk, which is why Larry Brown has indicated his desire to play Chandler as a power forward.
Offensively, his repertoire is extremely limited to tip-ins, put backs, and dive cutting into dunks.
Charlotte’s defense should actually take a step up this season—how they’ll manage to score is another matter altogether.
Rasho Nesterovic—Toronto Raptors
Nesterovic can eat space while blocking a shot or two down low. On offense, he has a very soft touch on his jump shots and around the basket. He’s also one of the slowest players in the league, something that can be compensated by Chris Bosh’s athleticism.
For a team that needs toughness, brining back Nesterovic in a limited role is a good move.
Marco Belinelli—Toronto Raptors
The Raptors picked up Belinelli for nothing and now have him in a three-guard rotation at shooting guard with rookie DeMarr DeRozan, and Mavericks’ castoff Antoine Wright.
While it’s an unknown as to just how good DeRozan could be, Wright earns his bones on the defensive side of the ball. That means Belinelli’s shooting stroke and quickness could be nice compliments, particularly off the bench where his inability to defend or understand complex offenses will be mitigated.
Devean George—Golden State Warriors
There’s no place for George in Golden State as a role player who can’t create his own shots and isn’t the defender he used to be. The Warriors just wanted to clear a logjam of wings and guards, and are hoping that George’s veteran presence will add some sanity to an organization falling apart at the seams.
Drew Gooden—Dallas Mavericks
Gooden can knock down mid range jumpers, handle, post up, rebound, and defend. However, because of a lack of focus and a low basketball IQ, he’s never been able to put his skills together to become anything more than a streaky supporting cast member.
He’ll have a few games where he’ll provide everything Dallas needs on that given night, and follow it up with a mistake-filled clanker the next game.
Tim Thomas—Dallas Mavericks
A perpetual loser, Thomas won’t defend, rebound, pass, play hard, or play smart. Don’t expect him to escape Rick Carlisle’s doghouse.
Malik Allen—Denver Nuggets
A fluid 6-10 forward, Allen can shoot the basketball from anywhere within 20 feet. If his defense and rebounding are sub-par, his jumper alone has value at the end of the bench.
Ike Diogu—New Orleans Hornets
Diogu is strong and active around the basket, but is undersized and lacks ideal athleticism. As a backup, he’ll pack more punch than Sean Marks, but isn’t as active cutting and playing defense. He’s young and cheap, though if New Orleans actually believed it could contend this year, they’d sign a veteran with more experience.
Earl Watson—Indiana Pacers
Watson can lead a break and be a pest defensively, but has trouble running an offense, finishing, and shooting. He’s still an upgrade over Travis Diener.
Hakim Warrick—Milwaukee Bucks
Warrick has the athleticism of a racehorse on a pogo stick. But he’s rail-thin, meaning he gets pushed around whenever contact is made. As a result, he’s a sub-par screen-setter, defender, and rebounder. He gives the Bucks a runner and a leaper, but what Milwaukee needs most are scorers.
Kevin Ollie—Oklahoma City Thunder
Ollie’s a glorified assistant coach who’s role with the Thunder will be to play defense and move the ball for 16 minutes, while teaching Russell Westbrook about playing defense and reading the court as an offense. Since the Thunder are putting all their stock in the future, a mentor to Westbrook is more important than talent.
Should Shaun Livingston fully return from his horrendous left leg injuries, then Livingston will slide into the backup point guard role over Ollie.
This article also appeared at OTRbasketball.com/forums
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