Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Roundtable: Post-Superstar Free Agency

"I mean this much to the Pistons." (AP)

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: What non-superstar signing is the biggest thus far in NBA free agency?

They aren't 'superstars,' but the Minnesota Timberwolves' additions of Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin are the best free-agent acquisitions made this offseason. The Wolves, after almost an eternity, have found the shooting guard they needed in Kevin Martin. Martin is signed for four years in a deal worth almost $30 million. Corey Brewer, once drafted by the Wolves, works out with Martin in the off-season. Brewer's deal is worth $15 million over three seasons.

There were times during games last season where the Wolves had three point guards on the floor. Luke Ridnour, now with the Bucks, acted as the shooting guard most of the season. Martin's ability to shoot the ball from outside compliments Ricky Rubio's past-first mentality. Brewer, a defensive specialist, has a game that compliments the Wolves' other swingman, Chase Budinger. Budinger is an offensive-minded player who will be a part of the 3-guard committee that head coach Rick Adelman will use this season. This article, written by Zach Harper of CBS Sports, explains Brewer's skill of leaking out in transition. Adding a defender who sneaks away in transition is sure to have Kevin Love licking his chops. Love's been known not only for his shooting, but his ability to throw long outlet passes since going to Minnesota from UCLA. The Timberwolves are ready to howl this postseason.  The additions of Brewer and Martin are the reasons why. The Wolves already have their stars in Rubio and Love but, President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders went out and got the guys he needed to make a serious run as a competitor this season.

There have been plenty of solid pick-ups and team switches agreed upon to this point, but the Dallas Mavericks' acquisition of point guard Jose Calderon is major, especially for a team that just lost out on adding the league's most dominant center. With Dirk Nowitzki in the twilight of his career and Vince Carter carrying more than his portion of the scoring load, Calderon's talents are just what Dallas was severely in need of.

Splitting last season between Toronto and Detroit, Calderon managed to score 11.3 points per game while using only 17 percent of his team's possessions in 29.6 nightly minutes. His efficiency landed him in the top five for both true shooting percentage (61.6) and effective field goal percentage (59.4), but scoring is not the primary issue Calderon will resolve in Dallas. His court vision and selflessness resulted in an average of 7.1 assists per game as he facilitated on a very respectable 39.8 percent of his team's baskets while on the floor. Match this skill with Nowitzki's veteran savvy, not to mention Carter's knack for scoring and the gradual emergence of Jae Crowder, and the Mavericks should get many more open looks in 2013-14 than last season. Adding a player of Calderon's offensive abilities (he finished four in O-rating with a 124.0 grade in 2012-13) would be a game-changer for any franchise, let alone one suffering a steep slide like the Mavericks. If Mark Cuban couldn't snag a superstar, he made the smartest available move in signing Calderon.

While I think the Los Angeles Clippers were smart to bring in Darren Collison as a more-than-competent backup to Chris Paul, and I think Mike Dunleavey Jr.'s skills can help the Chicago Bulls, I'm going to have to say Josh Smith with the Detroit Pistons. I've never thought Smith was worth the hype and production for how much he shoots (15.6 shots per game last season), but the Pistons desperately needed a scorer.

Greg Monroe led Detroit in scoring last year at 16 points per game and Brandon Knight was a distant second at 13.3 ppg. Ranked No. 22 as a team in points per game last season with 94.9, the Pistons offense could benefit from Smith's 17.5 ppg average last season. The fact that Smith will play and take jump shots on the wing should free up Monroe to be more productive inside. Along with scoring, the Pistons need a player with some name power to grow excitement and gain national attention. Smith may be frustrating at times, but he is a name fans know and people in Detroit will come out to watch and will help pump life into a sometimes-stagnant offense.

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