Free agency is always an exciting time for NBA fans and it brings heavy contracts and lots of excitement. However, sometimes, big deals don’t make big impacts.
There were some big names signing gigantic contracts during the 2012 NBA free agency period and while some have produced, others haven’t lived up to expectations. The Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to be a “super team,” but some players that were expected to make big impacts haven’t lived up to expectations.
Which players have and which players haven’t lived up to expectations? Here are grades for the most notable free agent signings.
Steve Nash has had some nice plays, but he’s been a disappointment. Photo Credit: (Bridget Samuels, Flickr.com)
Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
Nash and the Lakers have fallen far short of fulfilling their lofty expectations, as the 39-36 Lakers are in a fight just to make the postseason. Nash hasn’t been a disaster for the Lakers, but the 39-year old guard isn’t living up to his three-year, $27 million contract at all.
The Laker point guard is averaging 12.7 points per game (PPG) and 6.7 assists per game (APG), which is nice. However, when you consider that Nash is making $9 million annually and is expected to come closer to his average of more than 10.9 APG (from the 2004-05 season to the 2011-12 season), those numbers are a far cry from what was expected.
Nash has a 2.6 assists-to-turnovers ratio, which isn’t bad. However, Nash’ mark of 2.5 turnovers per game could be cut down and his assists-to-turnovers ratio is just 22nd among point guards. Nash’s player efficiency rating (PER) is 15.97, which is barely above the league average of 15. He’s not being paid $27 million to be average.
And he’s not being paid $27 million to have the 29th-best PER among just point guards. But that’s what Nash has done this year.
The Lakers expected leadership and sharp passing from Nash, who has some great scorers in Bryant and Howard to pass to. However, he has been a relative disappointment, and he isn’t going to get any younger. The Lakers took a risk that looked smart at the time when they paid Nash, but it hasn’t benefited the Lakers much at all.
Jeremy Lin did well in New York, but he hasn’t done too well in Houston. (Photo Credit: panamericanonline.com)
Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets
While Jeremy Lin took the NBA by storm when he went on a magical run with the New York Knicks, he really isn’t anything special.
Lin did very well with the Knicks before getting hurt and missing a lot of the 2011-12 season. He became a restricted free agent and the Houston Rockets flattered him with a lucrative offer of three years and $25 million. The Knicks wouldn’t match the contract, and Lin rejoined the Rockets.
And the Knicks were smart not to match the contract.
Even though Lin lit up Madison Square Garden with some elegant performances (such as his 38-point game against Bryant and the Lakers), he isn’t worth more than $8.3 million per year (which is what he’s earning). Lin is averaging 13 PPG and 6.1 APG, which are decent numbers. However, his 2.07 assists-to-turnovers ratio could be improved upon and so could his miserable 3-point shooting percentage (34.1 percent). Lin averages 31.9 minutes per game (MPG) and he’s not exactly earning more minutes.
There are six players on the Rockets averaging double-digits (in points), so Lin isn’t exactly shining with 13 PPG. Because he is the point guard, you would think that he could do a good job distributing the ball to some of these players and you would think he could beat six assists per game. However, Lin hasn’t been great and that hasn’t been the case.
Lin’s PER is somehow 37th among point guards at 14.92, which would suggest that he is a below-average player. His estimated wins added (EWA) is 4.6, which is poor considering that LeBron James
has a 28.7 EWA. Lin isn’t an elite player and he hasn’t been too efficient for the Rockets.
And he definitely hasn’t been worth his hefty contract.
Lin isn’t a terrible basketball player by any means, but he can be much better. The Rockets overpaid for Lin and were suckered in by a few good performances from the attention-stealing guard and they will pay for it down the line. Lin is young and could blossom into a better player, but it’s highly unlikely that he ever lives up to this deal.
Who better to make big playoff shots than Ray Allen? (Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule).
Ray Allen, Miami Heat
Everything went well for the Miami Heat during the summer of 2012.
Not only did Miami capture its first championship since 2006, the Heat signed Ray Allen
to a relatively cheap deal. The Heat beat Allen and the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals before locking up the former Celtic to a three-year, $9.5 million deal, a deal that seemed like a low-risk, high-reward deal at the time.
And the deal still seems that way.
Allen is averaging 10.8 PPG while shooting very well. Allen owns a remarkable 3-point shooting percentage (42.4 percent) and is shooting well from the field in general (45.5 percent). Allen is only playing 25.7 MPG, but he is producing and assisting Miami’s core of James, Dwyane Wade
and Chris Bosh
. He is making the most of his opportunities, as he is also shooting a remarkable 88.6 percent from the free throw line.
Oh, and he’s doing this for an average of less than $3.2 million per year.
The sharp-shooter can still pile on the points, as he had a streak of eight consecutive double-digit games (spanning from late February to early March) and a run of 13 out of 15 games with double-digit points. Allen is a valuable player and while he is 37 years old, he can still shoot and produce for the Heat.
Allen’s PER is poor, as it is barely above-average at 15.04. However, he isn’t making a huge dent in Miami’s payroll and he is still a valuable overall player who can score. Allen has lots of experience and can definitely contribute down the stretch and, as I mentioned, he is a very low-risk signing.
So, he will easily get a good grade.
Brook Lopez has been an absolute beast for the Brooklyn Nets. (Photo Credit: Michael Dunlap, HoopsHabit.com)
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets
is the only player on this list who re-signed in the 2012 offseason and the Brooklyn Nets are currently extremely happy about that.
The Nets pursued Dwight Howard heavily and it appeared as if the Nets were going to land the attention-stealing center. However, Howard landed in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Lopez stayed with the Nets.
And now he’s one of the best centers in the league.
Lopez is averaging 19.2 PPG and 6.9 RPG this year and in addition, he’s shooting very well. Lopez has asserted himself as a legitimate scoring and shooting threat for star point guard Deron Williams
, as he is shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 76 percent from the free-throw line.
In addition to his extremely efficient, valuable offensive play, Lopez has done very well on defense. He is averaging two blocks per game (BPG), which is very good considering he averages less than 31 minutes per game (MPG). Lopez makes a positive impact on the floor and the Nets benefit from it.
Lopez owns the fifth-best PER in the league, as his PER is 24.49, well above the league average. His EWA is 14.4, easily the best among centers. The Nets are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and will likely have home-court advantage in the first round and that’s largely because of Lopez playing great all-around basketball.
While the Nets took a big risk by committing $61 million to the big man (over four years), the risk is paying off. At the time, it definitely seemed like the Nets overpaid Lopez, because Lopez played just five games in the 2011-12 season and averaged a mere 3.6 RPG. However, Howard is 15th in PER among centers, while Lopez is easily first. So, it definitely seems like the Nets struck gold here.
And if Lopez keeps playing at this level, this deal could contribute to future playoff success in Brooklyn.