It’s been a month and a half into NBA free agency and the same names keep coming up in the media. Gordon Hayward signed in Boston, Paul Millsap left for Denver, and many other stars re-signed max deals to remain with their franchises. But there are small-scale signings people tend to forget about.
These aren’t the stars signing massive contracts, but rather under-the-radar role players that aid star players in taking their team to the next level. Here are the signings that deserve more love.
SG Ian Clark, New Orleans Pelicans
What is the New Orleans Pelicans’ biggest need?
What can Ian Clark do?
Clark had a career-best season in 2016-2017 with the with the Golden State Warriors. He averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists, field goals, field-goal percentage, three-point field goals, three-point field goal percentage and steals. With less depth on the Pelicans, Clark is in a position to increase his statistics.
The Pelicans wing depth consists of Jordan Crawford, E’Twaun Moore, Solomon Hill and Quincy Pondexter. None of them are consistent three-point shooters, putting Clark in a great position to shine. Now that Clark isn’t in Golden State, his competition for minutes will be a lot easier. Clark is poised to take the sixth man role if he can consistently knock down the long-ball.
Joffrey Lauvergne, San Antonio Spurs
An international big man that gets no love in the offseason is gold for the San Antonio Spurs. They lost Dewayne Dedmon to the Atlanta Hawks and David Lee to unrestricted free agency. That leaves Lauvergne as the only backup behind Pau Gasol. With Gasol’s career low 25.4 minutes per game, Lauvergne will be called upon to make an impact on a nightly basis.
Lauvergne gives the Spurs an efficient big man that can stretch the floor. Last season he shot over 30 percent from three on the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls. He’s never shot below 40 percent from the field in his four-year career. Gregg Popovich always gives minutes to his backup centers. He now has one that fits today’s NBA.
SG Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic
Aaron Afflalo returned to the Orlando Magic and it’s perfect for both parties. Afflalo returns to the team where he had his two best scoring seasons and the Magic add needed depth at wing. The problem is Afflalo isn’t as talented today as he was four seasons ago.
Afflalo hasn’t averaged more than 15 points per game since he left Orlando. He averaged 8.4 last season, his lowest since his sophomore season. Even though the scoring numbers are down, Afflalo still keeps a decent three-point shooting percentage. Last season was his most efficient three-point shooting season since he left Orlando. For a team that finished 29th in three-point shooting, Afflalo will fill a major need behind Evan Fournier and Terrance Ross.
Thabo Sefolosha, Utah Jazz
Thabo Sefolosha may be switching cities, but he’s entering an environment he’s used to. He played under Mike Budenholzer’s team-first, defensive-centered system the last three seasons. Now he’s under Quinn Snyder’s with better defensive players.
Sefolosha’s shooting ability will determine his minutes. Since the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward this offseason, it’ll be a team responsibility to fill the void. Last season Sefolosha had his best offensive season in four years averaging 7.2 points per game shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from three. All signs point to Sefolosha as a perfect fit in Utah.
PF Jeff Green, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are expected to meet in a fourth consecutive NBA Finals. If the Cavaliers want to prevent the Warriors from repeating, they have to add versatility to the roster. They tried to get Paul George or Jimmy Butler, but they ended up with Jeff Green. He’s not the star Cleveland wanted, but Green brings much-needed versatility to The Land.
Green’s 6’9′, 230-lb frame allows him to play both wing positions. Defensively, the Cavs hope Green lifts a massive weight off of LeBron James’ shoulders. The Cavaliers need to improve defensively to stop the Warriors NBA-best offense.