The 2012 NBA offseason trade-o-rama has kicked off with a bevy of point guard changes. The rundown goes thusly:
Steve Nash to the LAX Lakers – Intriguing… The Nash / Gasol pick and roll should be a great weapon. Gasol can set good screens, catch, pass, and finish on the move, and step back to hit a jumper. Nash should also be able to get Kobe some nice catches on the move. Bryant is one of the better scorers in the league at getting position on his man off the ball, and Nash will miss him far less than Fisher, Sessions, Blake, and Artest did last year. Nash should also get Bryant the ball in transition. Nash will get some easier looks for Bynum as well, but his best contribution for ‘drew might be his shooting from distance which should keep double teams at bay and allow the big man to work the paint one on one more often. Defensively Nash doesn’t help the Lakers where they are weakest, which is defending the pick and roll and the league’s athletic point guards. With Westbrook, Parker, and CP3 on the other contending WC teams, that could be a real issue.
Jason Kidd to the NYC Knicks – This isn’t a bad move, but I’m not jumping for joy for Knicks fans either. The good news is that Kidd will not be flummoxed by defenses zoning up on Anthony off the ball. He can make a lob entry over a fronting defender or see where a swing pass to a backdoor feed is the right play. He can also hit a standstill jump shot. Basically he’ll function with Melo in much the same way he did with Dirk, feeding the ball to the mid-post area and spacing the floor. The Knicks will really miss Schumpert’s defense while he recovers from knee surgery because Kidd no longer has the foot-speed to cover opposing point guards. Kidd is also not much of a pick and roll point guard these days, which could hurt Amare and Chandler on the offensive end.
Deron Williams to the BRK Nets – Congrats to the Nets on keeping the current face of their franchise! They’ve been busy mortgaging their future in hopes of landing Dwight. DWill was not great playing with little help last season, but getting Joe Johnson and having Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez for a full season should help a lot. If they can swing a deal for Dwight, this team becomes very interesting. Deron is a gamer but he is more pure point than scoring point, so the more weapons the better, and a pick and roll weapon like Howard would suit him well. Without Dwight, they will be a contender to make the playoffs but probably won’t have the juice to advance.
Kyle Lowry to the TOR Raptors – I think Kyle is a consolation prize in the Steve Nash sweepstakes. He’s a very solid player and should improve the team, but I don’t know if he’s enough to get them back in the playoff picture. They’ve reportedly got a big guy coming in from overseas as well, so it’s tough to predict just how different this team might be next year or exactly how Lowry will be used.
Jeremy Lin to the HOU Rockets – I don’t know if Lin is an improvement over Lowery or Dragic. He’s certainly more famous than they are and might help on the marketing front, but he’s basically a pick and roll scoring point guard just like them and more turnover-prone to boot. He’s also not a great one on one defender. This team is still flexible and talented, but they missed the playoffs with a better than .500 record last year, and they just might do it again this year.
Jason Terry to the BOS Celtics – This move confuses me a little bit. I like the idea of getting a play maker off the bench with a ton of confidence and range on his jumper. I don’t like the idea of the Celtic back court getting any smaller than it already is. Right now the rotation looks like it will be Rondo (6’ 0”), Bradley (6’ 2”), Terry (6’ 2”) and MAYBE Ray Allen (6’ 5”). It’s a talented group, but post up shooting guards like Wade and Joe J could become problems. Terry should fit right in with the Boston vets at any rate with his on the ball and off the ball game and willingness to take big shots in big spots.
Goran Dragic to the PHO Suns – I smell a rebuild. Dragic is fine, but Nash kept this team relevant. Dragic does more scoring on his own but gets less out of those around him. Poor Marcin Gortat might just find out that he’s a back-up center without Nash there to pad his stats, and Grant Hill’s joy at being able to play the game so well at age 74 may diminish some as well.
Chauncey Billups to the LAX Clippers – This was an important re-signing by the Clips. Billups might not ever bring the game to the court that he did in Detroit and Denver, but his experience and professionalism are huge for this team. Having a three point shooter who believes every big shot is going down doesn’t hurt either. They shouldn’t need him to do a whole lot of producing with Paul and Bledsoe eating up most of the PG minutes and two viable shooting guards on the roster, but he’s there if they do.
Jameer Nelson to the ORD Magic – This team is in such disarray that it’s tough to tell if re-signing Jameer is good for them or if it’s good for Jameer. Nelson is a skilled point guard, especially when he’s aggressive off the dribble in pick and roll situations. He’s not great at getting his own shot or making things happen for offensively challenged players, but he can run an offense effectively and feed competent scorers the ball in positions where they can make plays. The trouble with Jameer in Orlando is that his best asset is his ability to work in tandem with Dwight in the pick and roll. Remove Dwight, and the team may fall back on Hedo working high pick and rolls with Anderson, which moves Nelson off the ball where he is less valuable.
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