Putting aside the obvious answer which is Lebron James and Chris Bosh, alot of teams helped themselves mightily this offseason. The thinking behind some of the acquisitions was flawed, and the evaluation of some of the signings misguided. We will attempt to use this column to explain the differences and some of the myths that have emerged.
#1- Amar’e Stoudemire (New York Knicks) – The Miami Heat made a mistake in targeting Chris Bosh instead of Amare Stoudemire goes the complaint.
First of all, Amare Stoudemire is having a MVP type season. He is indeed carrying what was supposed to be a borderline 8th seed to a mid-pack seed and possible 45-plus win season.
Chris Bosh was a better signing for the Heat for several reasons, chief among them is his high Basketball IQ for a system that was going to feature two other primary options. Chris Bosh is a better jump shooter, which allows for better floor spacing for Dwyane Wade and Lebron James. Chris Bosh is just better suited to be a third option due to the way he operates, as well as being younger with a more certain injury history.
Defensively thus far, Chris Bosh has been a better fit in the Heat’s rotation system while Amare Stoudemire is proving to be the best high pick and roll player in the game, as well as the best elbow Isolation Big. In short, the Knicks bought themselves relevancy in one fell swoop and this signing apart from the obvious has made the most impact.
#2- Steve Blake and Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Lakers) – The Lakers only weakness (their bench) was quickly resolved with a couple of signings dipping into their MLE. Blake, a distributor with three point range, is the perfect compliment to first unit point guard Derek Fisher’s catch and shoot mentality. Matt Barnes, a spot up shooter / defensive specialist, helps with continuity on the second unit as Ron Artest’s top sub.
#3- Al Jefferson (Utah Jazz) – After ignoring Carlos Boozer’s requests for a max contract extension, the Jazz traded for often maligned big man Al Jefferson and paired him down low with Paul Millsap to make quite possibly, the best front court combination in the league. Al Jefferson as a pick and roll Big, with Deron Williams, has more than replaced Carlos Boozer’s scoring and rebounding while adding a significant defensive presence.
#4- Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls) – Was this “settling?” Sure looks like it, although Carlos Boozer has played well as of late. Boozer has always been a great pick and roll player, and paired with a great “point guard” in Derrick Rose, you would think he would be a perfect fit. Except that Rose is a shoot first point guard, and the Bulls hardly ever call any P&R’s while calling isolations for Boozer as his main avenue for getting touches.
In the end, all of the above vastly improved their squads, although a further examination will be warranted when these deals reach their 3rd and 4th years at exorbitant salary levels.