2010 was indeed the year of the free agent in the NBA. Safe to say that no sport had as many high-profile pending free agents in recent memory. Though some of the superstars opted to stay put, many found new homes and have provided a big boost for their respective new team. These are the Top 20 New Faces in New Places!
Recently back from a groin injury, Bell continues to be a solid player when healthy. He’s averaged 8.2 points per game as the sixth man for an impressive Jazz team that has started the season 19-9.
Livingston has yet to see extended playing time in his six-year career, but this was a nice pickup for Charlotte. Livingston has shown that he can be deadly accurate from three point range (51.7 percent in 2009 and 48.2 percent in 2010), and he should continue to be a solid role player. At 25, he still has some upside.
The other guy that went from Cleveland to Miami, Ilgauskas has been effective when he’s gotten some court time. He’s shooting 53.7 percent from the field while pulling down 5.1 RPG and provides the Heat with some quality depth.
Barnes is playing on his fourth team in the last four seasons, but he appears to be a good fit for the Lakers. Barnes’ versatility and normally accurate shooting provides nice depth at several positions. Barnes has 27 points in his last two games.
Korver has proven to be an important player for Chicago, as he’s scored in double digits in six of his last games while averaging 9.4 PPG. Korver has been as good as anyone from beyond the arc dating back to last season in which he shot 53.6 percent from downtown over the course of 52 games with the Jazz.
Though his minutes are all over the place, Warrick has quietly settled in as a very efficient role player for the Suns since coming over from Chicago. He’s shooting a career-best 55.8 percent from the field, and he’s more than capable of getting the hot hand on any given night.
The 23-year-old F/G has added some versatility to Milwaukee’s lineup and has averaged 10.3 points per game. Douglas-Roberts has caught fire recently with 48 points in his last three games. It’s conceivable that he could help the Bucks sneak into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
Though he hasn’t been able to repeat last years magic in New Orleans, Collison is still averaging 13.2 PPG in 2010. He’s had his fair share of ups and downs this season, but he’s shown flashes of being an effective player and has helped Indiana to 7th place in the Eastern conference. He still has great upside.
Shaq has struggled with a nagging calf injury in the early stages of the 2010 season, but the big man has proven that he can still contribute when healthy. Shaq is averaging 11.2 PPG and 6.4 RPG in 17 games so far this season. More importantly, he brings four championship rings to a team with a strong winning mentality and should continue to be a good fit.
Gooden has been forced to miss some games due to plantar fasciitis, but he’s been rock solid when he’s been able to take the court. Gooden is on his fourth team in as many seasons, but that hasn’t stopped him from averaging 11.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG off Milwaukee’s bench.
Though he’s played in only 18 games, Lee has established himself as a key presence in Golden State’s offense. Thus far, he’s shooting a career-worst 44.7 percent from the field, but his inaccurate shooting can likely be chalked up to the fact that he’s playing with an infected elbow. Once it heals, Lee’s numbers will likely be comparable to his days in New York.
After a slow start, Boozer is heating up with each passing game that goes by for the Bulls and has stepped up nicely in the absence of Joakim Noah. Over Chicago’s last three games, Boozer has shot over 60 percent (35-of-58) from the field while pulling down 34 rebounds. Boozer’s contributions have allowed the 16-9 Bulls to continue their hot start to the season.
Jefferson has proved to be a valuable pickup for the Jazz, giving them a solid inside presence. He had been slumping a bit in recent games, but he bounced back with a nice 18-point performance in Milwaukee on Saturday. He’s scored in double digits in nine of his last 10 games and has been a key contributor in Utah’s 19-9 start.
The top rookie in the league, Wall is second on the Wizards with 16.7 PPG and leads the team with 8.9 APG. The 20-year old is having a phenomenal rookie campaign and provides Washington fans with some light at the end of the tunnel.
What an absolute steal for Portland. Matthews has virtually come from out of nowhere to average 15.2 PPG, and he is in the midst of a nine game streak in which he’s scored 13 points or higher. Matthews enjoyed a nice rookie campaign for Utah, but a breakout of this magnitude was unexpected to say the least.
The 13th year man is showing no signs of slowing down with Denver, averaging 13 PPG and 5.3 RPG. He appears to have settled in nicely with the Nuggets, his fifth team, and has been a nice complement to Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. He has five straight games with double digit point totals.
Felton has been a great complement to Stoudemire and appears primed to have a career-best season by all measures. Felton is averaging 18.4 points per game and has been one of the key cogs in New York’s sudden turnaround. His 45.8 FG% is good for second-best in his career.
Playing on his third team in as many years, Chandler has been dominant for Dallas, averaging 8.6 PPG and 9.1 RPG. So far in 2010, Chandler is shooting a career-best 63.2 from the field, and his ability to pull down offensive rebounds should continue to allow for many second chance points for the already deadly-shooting Mavericks. Dallas is 21-5 thanks in large part to the addition of Chandler.
When Miami stumbled to a 9-8 start, most of the finger-pointing from the fans and media was directed in the direction of Bosh. His point totals from 2009 have decreased in 2010 (24.0 PPG to 18.2 PPG), but that was to be expected when he joined up with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. Still, Bosh will continue to play a vital role for the Heat in their “Championship or bust” season. Bosh is currently shooting 50.3 percent from the field, good for the second highest of his career.
Stoudemire has proven to be exactly what the Knicks have been lacking for years: A bona fide scorer who wants the ball in the clutch. He’s averaging 26.5 PPG and 9.4 RPG and should be included in MVP talk. New York’s 16-12 start would not have been within the realm of possibility without the acquisition of Stoudemire.
After the Heat got off to the most critiqued 9-8 start in NBA history, King James and company have settled everything down by winning 12 in a row. Miami has looked as good as advertised in that time span. LeBron’s numbers are slightly down from last year (24.5 PPG in 2010, 29.7 PPG in 2009), though that was to be expected since he’s sharing the ball with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Ultimately, LeBron went to Miami to win, and after surviving a clumsy start, they’re doing just that.