After signing Mike Muscala, the Atlanta Hawks picked up another big man through 2017 NBA free agency in Dewayne Dedmon. We grade the move.
The Atlanta Hawks are officially building a youth movement. After trading Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets and letting Paul Millsap walk without making a competitive offer, the Hawks’ two latest signings further signify the club’s new direction.
First, they brought back Mike Muscala on a two-year, $10 million deal that contains a player option after year one. Next, via the great Shams Charania of The Vertical late Tuesday evening, we learned of Atlanta’s second free agent acquisition of the summer: Dewayne Dedmon.
It was reported by USA TODAY Sports‘ Sam Amick that the Hawks and the former San Antonio Spurs big man agreed to a two-year, $14 million contract. Like Muscala’s agreement, Dedmon’s deal also has a player option after 2017-18, which will surely incentivize him to perform in order to receive a much larger payday next summer.
To be fair, though, we’ve been waiting for Dedmon to break out for a while now. Once he agreed to join the Spurs last offseason, most expected big things from the USC product. Unfortunately, those big things never really came.
In 2016-17, the seven-footer averaged 5.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per contest, shooting 62.2 percent from the floor and 69.9 percent from the charity stripe. He played just 17.5 minutes a night during the regular season, and participated in fewer than 100 minutes over 12 playoff games.
Nevertheless, Dedmon did show some signs of life. For one, the Spurs were 1.7 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor, and allowed an astounding 5.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was in the game.
Sure, some of that may have to do with the fact that the four-year vet would replace Pau Gasol (a human traffic cone defensively at this point in his career) in the lineup; there’s no way Dedmon wouldn’t be an improvement on that end.
Regardless, also impressive was that per 36 minutes, the athletic center averaged 10.5 points, 13.4 boards and 1.7 blocks. Maybe with diminished expectations on a rebuilding Hawks team, he’ll finally be able to break through and produce those numbers on a regular basis.
Dedmon turns 28 in just over a month; we’re getting pretty close to now-or-never time for the big man.
Either way, it’s a low-risk signing for the Hawks. Even if Dedmon’s play doesn’t reach another level, as is, he’s pretty under-appreciated by the casual basketball fan. The former Spur placed 31st overall in NBA Math’s defensive points saved metric in 2017, 34th in defensive win shares, 66th in overall win shares and 94th in value over replacement player.
To get a player that beloved by advanced stats at a price tag of $7 million annually is a bargain, especially in today’s market. For God’s sake, the Miami Heat just spent $50 million over four years to sign Kelly Olynyk — Dedmon is a steal in comparison.
In all, the Hawks are being savvy with their pickups. Low monetary commitments on short deals for young, talented big men could pay off handsomely down the road.
Who knows? Maybe Atlanta’s frontcourt of the future blossoms from their two latest signings. And even if it doesn’t, the Hawks will be free of those deals by the summer of 2019 at the very latest. Sam Hinkie, the king of tanking and team building, would be proud.