NBA Bench Warmers: 10 Trades That Would Benefit League Quality of Play
Being a fan of the NBA for more than a decade now, I’ve had the pleasure of watching its continued growth from a talent stand point. The pool of talent has never been greater and teams have never been deeper.
The average or uneducated fan of the NBA’s history would probably disagree with my beliefs. However, there is no denying that today’s generation of players are more skilled and arguably more physically gifted.
Especially from a age stand point. In the 80’s players began dominating around the age of 24 and upwards. Today’s athlete are developing at a far faster rate and dominating in as much as four and five years younger than the 80’s.
Due to this early influx of developed talent, coupled with already established veteran stars, the NBA has been bombarded with an enormous talent pool. But there is one draw-back. The talent isn’t equally dispersed throughout the league.
Teams are allowed to stock pile at whatever position they like via trades, free-agency or the NBA draft.
I’ve always wondered why the NBA didn’t control the draft and allowed teams to draft on positional need only. This would provide parity in the league.
Just imagine a NBA where the 30 most talented players at each position started.
Sure would eliminate a majority of fear that most owners have about free agency. It would also eliminate the worry players have about being traded. But the biggest impact would occur with the drafting of players.
No longer would a Evan Turner have to worry about sitting behind a Andre Iguodala and no longer would a Gilbert Arenas have to worry about being switched to a different position because his team was drafting a player at the same position with greater or near ability.
But it’s just a dream, one that would never bare fruit.
Never the less, here’s a rather simpler notion for you folks to enjoy. Here are 10 trades of NBA reserves that would benefit the league from an entertainment value.
10. Jason Thompson To The Charlotte Bobcats
Jason Thompson is coming off consecutive seasons of averaging over 11 points and 7 rebounds. Some might think that isn’t impressive. But try and keep in mind those were his initial two seasons in the NBA.
Unfortunate for Thompson, the Sacramento Kings made a trade for Carl Landry last season and drafted DeMarcus Cousins with the 5th pick in this past draft. Add in the trade for Samuel Dalembert and it’s easy to see why Thompson has become a player buried on the bench.
At 6’11” and 250lbs, Thompson has the size and skill set to excel at either the center or power forward positions. In going to Charlotte, it would provide the Bobcats with a player who could be featured on most nights on the block and still be able to fit into their defensive oriented system.
Being able to slide to the center position, the Bobcats would be able to start Tyrus Thomas at the power forward position if so they saw fit once Nazr Mohammed contract came off the books after this season.
Jason Thompson is scheduled to make $2,178,000.00 this season. All the Bobcats would need to offer up is Eduardo Najera and his $2.8 million dollar contract.
The 24-year-old Thompson would serve as a nice building block for a Bobcat club that needs to gain young talent quickly to replace its many aging veteran players that are vital to their success.
9.. Darrell Arthur To The Indiana Pacers
Up until the start of this season, not many were probably aware of who Darrell Arthur is. Well now that the 22 year old third year forward is averaging 15 points on 52-percent shooting, he’s raised more than a few eye brows.
Arthur is one of the smoothest young power forwards in the NBA, which is evident by the Grizzlies picking up the remaining years on his contract. He’s shown a consistent growth from a mental stand point since he entered the league. His struggles have been the cause of not having a defined role and being injured last season.
He has the ability to knock down jumpers from as far as 19 feet out and consistently post up players that are longer and bigger than him. This a rare ability for a 22 year old power forward.
He’s raised his field goal percentage from 43-percent to 52-percent. And after averaging six points as a rookie, he’s upped his average to 15 points this season in 30 minutes of play per game.
With the Indiana Pacers having a glaring need for a promising young stud to fill its’ power forward position, Arthur would be an immediate upgrade and possible fixture for years to come.
Arthur is making $1,123,680.00 this season. The Pacers could have him by simply offering up Solomon Jones and his $1.5 million expiring contract.
8. Marreese Speights To The Phoenix Suns
Marreese Speights is a bomb waiting to be set off. In both his first two season in the NBA, his PER 36 numbers were off the chart. He averaged over 17 points and 8 rebounds while also averaging a steal and a block. Yet still he remains buried on the bench.
Maybe if the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t foolishly sign Elton Brand to his 15 plus million per year deal, Speights might be playing more. But that isn’t the case and currently his coach has him logging nine minutes per game, down from his 16 of a year ago.
In a lot of ways Marreese Speights is like a former Phoenix All-Star forward, Amar’e Stoudemire. He’s extremely agile and explosive for a man his size and he has multiple abilities to put the ball in the basket.
He also has shown the proficiency for making defensive plays, something that Stoudemire was too inconsistent in doing. It’s a trait that would bold well for a Suns club that is looking to compete on both ends of the floor.
The Suns are currently starting Hedo Turkoglu at the four spot and the results have lead to them starting the season 1-3. They need an upgrade at the position like a fish needs water to breath.
Speights is making $1,773,960.00 this season. The Suns only need ship out Earl Clark and his $1.8 million deal. Here’s to hoping that one of the GM’s for these clubs stumbles across this article.
7. James Harden To The Minnesota Timberwolves
Buried beneath the hoopla of Kevin Durant being a top three player, James Harden is just another player in a very long line of guys not getting their due in Oklahoma City. But unlike most of those players, Harden has expressed that he isn’t content with his current role and wants more.
A gifted all around player with sneaky athletic ability, Harden has the kind of talent and work ethic that could lead to him being a top 10 performer at his position. But that’ll never happen if he stays put in Oklahoma City.
Only 21 years of age, Harden has tons of time to become a relevant player in the NBA, but why make him wait? For the better of the development of Durant and his legacy? That’s hardly a reasonable thing to ask of the young man.
So for the sake of being classy, either start the young man drafted with the third selection in the 2009 NBA Draft. Or trade him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team in dire need of a complimentary scorer to Michael Beasley.
Harden is scheduled to make $4,304,520.00 this season. The Wolves could have him by simply offering up Martell Webster who they acquired this offseason.
6. Marcin Gortat To The Detroit Pistons
The story of Marcin Gortat is one of the worst in the NBA. His rate of production at the center position is off the charts. But rather than being allowed to display his many abilities, he’s stuck buried behind All-Star center Dwight Howard.
The classless Otis Smith took advantage of the restricted free agent rule and resigned Gortat when the 26 year old had a chance to move else where a year ago. Gortat has been displeased ever since but Smith refuses to move the young man, thus denying him of a greater NBA legacy.
Gortat is one of the best rebounders at his position, using his big and bulky frame to create space. Most NBA fans outside of Orlando aren’t aware of how athletic he is and really its a shame that they aren’t being treated to what the young man can do.
He’s arguably a more skilled and polished offensive player than his All-Star teammate Howard but fans wouldn’t know it with him playing under 15 minutes per game over the course of his three year career.
He measures 6’11” and close to 260lbs and has the body needed to make life hard for most NBA bigs.
With the Pistons needing size and a dominant post presence, Gortat would be a perfect fit to the players they already have. His abilities would open the floor for the shooting of Rip Hamilton, Tashaun Prince, and Ben Gordon, and make life easier for the penetrating Rodney Stuckey.
Gortat is making $6,322,320.00 this season. The Pistons could attain his services by packaging Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko.
5. Yi Jianlian To The The Toronto Raptors
Yi Jianlian is coming off a summer in which he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds during the World Championships. He also had a very productive preseason in which he out played the Washington Wizards current starting power forward, Andray Blatche.
In no way shape or form is the 23-year-old Yi a player that deserves to be in a reserve position. With his talents, he’s one of the 20 most versatile front court players in all the NBA.
At 7’0” and 250lbs, Jianlian is capable playing the five, four and three positions. His size and versatility would serve the Toronto Raptors better than any player currently on their roster.
Pairing him with the Raptors best player, Andrea Bargnani, would give the team one of the longest and most offensively and defensively versatile front court tandems in all the NBA.
Jianlian is currently making $4,050,500.00 this season. All the Raptors would have to do is offer up Reggie Evans and his $5 million dollar expiring contract.
With both players contracts scheduled to come off the books at the end of this season, it’s a winning situation for both teams. The Wizards wouldn’t have to cut Blatche’s minutes to accommodate Jianlian and the Raptors would get a proven starter at the position they are lacking in most.
It's a move that could make them better on both ends of the floor potentially.
4. Thaddeus Young To The Cleveland Cavaliers
Thaddeus Young is only 22 years of age but has already become one of the most complete players at his position. However, contract obligation to Andre Iguodala and Elton brand, and the drafting of Evan Turner have forced Thaddeus Young to be buried on the 76ers bench.
After two consecutive seasons of averaging over 32 minutes per game, shooting above 47-percent from the floor, 34-percent from behind the arch, grabbing 5 rebounds and a steal, Young now finds himself playing only 21 minutes per game, even though he’s averaging 10 points per game on 64-percent shooting.
He’s arguably a top 15 player at his position. And at 6’9” and 235lbs he has the size to and strength to play the three and four positions. There is no reason Young should be sitting on the 76ers bench if Iguodala is starting at the shooting guard position.
A move to the Cavaliers would provide Cleveland with a much needed starter with offensive ability to compliment the games' of J.J. Hickson and Ramon Sessions. His attention and awareness on the defensive end would also allow him to be assimilated into Coach Scott’s defensive oriented system easily.
Young is making $2,901, 241.00 this season. The Cavs could attain him by simply offering Jamario Moon and his $2.9 million deal that expires after this season.
Being that the 76ers are only playing him 21 minutes per game, they might as well ship the talented Young out. They haven’t even offered the 22 year old a contract extension, which for some odd reason he is seeking.
3. J.R. Smith To The New York Knicks
J.R. Smith is in the last year old a contract, but that doesn’t mean he wants to stay put with his Denver Nuggets team. How could he after the Nuggets expressed interest in shopping him during the offseason.
At 25 years of age, the often trouble offensive juggernaut is entering what should be the prime stages of his career. He has expressed his desire to return to a starting unit. Hopefully he has found the maturity needed to acquire one.
With the New York Knick playing a style that suits Smith’s talents to a tee, it only makes since that he land in his hometown. Well actually he’s from Newark, New Jersey but that didn’t matter in the case of LeBron James so whatever.
In going to the Knicks, he’d provide Amar’e Stoudemire with a legitimate second option that would keep defenses from packing the paint. He’d also provide a proper running mate for Raymond Felton in transition situations.
He’s set to make $6,031,151.00 this season. The Knicks would need only package Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike in a deal.
2. Wesley Matthews To The New Orleans Hornets
Sure Wesley Matthew just landed in Portland, thanks to a hefty new 5 year contract worth over 30 million dollars. However, Matthews is too talented and too competitive a player to be sitting on someone’s bench.
With the Blazers being logged in to Brando Roy being their future at the shooting guard position, it was odd that they even pursued Matthews, especially with Rudy Fernandez on their bench already.
In only one year of NBA play as an undrafted rookie, Matthews has already earned the reputation of being one of the better perimeter defenders the league has to offer. What wasn’t expected is his offensive showcase during this past preseason.
With the New Orleans Hornets in need of as much talent as possible to keep Chris Paul interested in staying. Is there a better player in the league to serve as his backcourt mate than Matthews?
The two are so similar in the way they approach the game that Paul might actually be able to turn Matthews into a All-Star type of player. And without question they’d be one of the toughest backcourts in the NBA.
With Matthews making $5,765,000.00 this season, the Hornets would only need to package Willie Green and Marco Belinelli to get a deal done.
1. George Hill To The Charlotte Bobcats
George Hill was brilliant last year fir the San Antonio Spurs. He provided the team with much needed energy and hustle, especially in the 20 plus games that Tony Parker sat out injured.
As a starter Hill averaged 15 points and 4 assist per game, while connecting on 49-percent of his overall attempts and 40-percent from beyond the arch. He also provided the Spurs with a much needed defensive stopper on the perimeter.
With the Spurs committing to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for the next few years, the time is now for the 24 year old to strike out and create a legacy worth remembering.
He’d be the perfect fit for Larry Brown and his system down in Charlotte. I’d be more than willing to wager a hefty sum of cash that Brown would offer up probably any player on the Bobcats roster not named Gerald Wallace to attain him.
Hill makes $1,157,160.00 this season. The Bobcats could acquire him by simply packaging Sherron Collins and Derrick Brown in a deal.