NBA Offseason Moves We Celebrated Way Too Quickly
After a jam-packed summer of transactions, the NBA is hardly recognizable.
Now that we've had a few weeks to digest the flurry of trades and free-agent signings, we can take a step back and re-evaluate some of those moves.
A number of deals might have made sense at first glance, but upon further examination, we perhaps celebrated the following five too quickly.
Malcolm Brogdon Signs with Indiana Pacers
Malcolm Brogdon is one of the best second-round draft picks in recent memory.
He shot 50.5 percent from the field, 42.6 percent from three-point range and 92.8 percent from the charity stripe with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, making him one of only 10 qualified players in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club. Brogdon was also a key starter on a Bucks team that made the Eastern Conference Finals, and he averaged a career-best 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
The Indiana Pacers poached Brogdon from the Bucks this summer, agreeing to sign-and-trade for him on a four-year, $85 million deal. While he would be a great role player next to Victor Oladipo, the Pacers likely expect far more from him than that.
Brogdon ranked 40th among point guards in usage rate last year, trailing the likes of Trey Burke, Aaron Holiday and Dante Exum, and he shot only 26.7 percent on pull-up threes. Those stats may seem cherry-picked to fit an argument, but they suggest that Brogdon is not a proficient shot-creator nor a ball-dominant floor general.
Until Oladipo recovers from his quad injury, the Pacers' best players will be big men. They will need a lead guard to run the offense at a high level to stay afloat in the playoff race until Oladipo returns.
Brogdon has proved doubters wrong at every turn, and he might once again. But as of now, he may be punching above his weight class in Indiana.
Al Horford Agrees to Deal with Philadelphia 76ers
For a player whose game is so unflashy, Al Horford is incredibly polarizing.
Some people look at his selfless play and call him a top-20 NBA player without a trace of irony, while others glance at his unremarkable counting stats and refer to him as "Average Al."
The truth about Horford is somewhere in the middle, though it leans more toward the former for the five-time All Star. As such, many celebrated when he signed a four-year, $109 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, pairing him with Joel Embiid to create perhaps the best defensive frontcourt in the NBA.
But while Horford's skill set is fairly transferable, this signing poses as many questions as it does answers.
Horford was largely a rim protector in Boston, but he will have to guard wings on the perimeter far more often than he's used to in Philly. That may be a challenge after he sat out parts of last season with knee trouble and will likely become less mobile over the course of this deal.
Plus, Horford is already 33 years old. The Sixers could be stuck paying an aging big man an average of $27.3 million per year, including $26.5 million when he'll be 36.
Horford's hefty deal could eventually become a serious hindrance to building around Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris.
Kevon Looney Re-Signs with Golden State Warriors
Kevon Looney's public approval rating has never been higher. Not only was he a key cog in the Golden State Warriors' fifth straight NBA Finals appearance, but he performed at a high level after suffering a fractured collarbone in the Finals.
The UCLA product re-upped with the Dubs on a three-year, $15 million deal this offseason. However, the Warriors lost Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins in free agency and had to trade Andre Iguodala to avoid the hard cap.
As such, the Warriors will need Looney in a way they never have before.
His 6.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game were acceptable on a team loaded with decorated All-Stars, but he is now perhaps Golden State's fourth-best healthy player behind Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell. Can he be a reliable interior offensive presence and versatile defender on a consistent basis?
To continue contending without Durant, Cousins and Iguodala, the Warriors will need Looney to take a huge step forward.
Denver Nuggets Sign Jamal Murray to a Max Extension
Jamal Murray showed up in a big way for the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs this year. He averaged 21.3 points, 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game and exploded intermittently, including a 21-point fourth quarter in Game 2 in the Nuggets' opening-round series against the San Antonio Spurs.
After that strong performance, Denver signed him to a five-year, $170 million contract extension this offseason. But while Murray is often great in big moments for the Nuggets, he is also notoriously streaky.
The Canadian missed the first 17 shots of his pro career, and his statistical profile matches that of a fairly average shooter. Basketball Reference's similarity score compares Murray to the likes of Mike Bibby and Derek Harper, both of whom were good but not elite players.
Murray's supernova flashes give a window into the type of player he could be when he's firing on all cylinders. He has also already shown the capacity to improve in specific ways throughout his short time in the NBA. For instance, Murray entered the draft as a subpar passer but has steadily increased his assist per game average in each of his three seasons.
For Denver not to regret that massive deal, Murray must become a more consistent scorer.
Oklahoma City Thunder Tear Down Their Roster
The Oklahoma City Thunder likely didn't enter the summer expecting to blow up their roster.
That isn't how things played out.
If trading Paul George and Russell Westbrook was the Thunder's only option this offseason, then sure, they got an unbelievable haul in return for their franchise players. But the Thunder didn't have to trade George, who just re-signed last summer and had at least two years remaining on his deal.
What would George have done if the Thunder called his bluff and decided to keep him—sit out an entire season? Until a superstar decides to follow through on that kind of radical boast, those threats should be considered empty.
After trading George, it made sense to move Westbrook, but OKC didn't have to trade either player.
The Thunder should be in a good position moving forward, but they probably won't find a star with the upside of Westbrook, George or Kevin Durant with any of their future picks. No matter what, it's now a long road ahead in Oklahoma City.