So which acquisitions are soaring and which are flailing?
We’re going to look at 15 players who were recently acquired via trade or signing and sort them into three categories: Good, Bad and Obscure.
The good players are making positive impacts on their teams, the bad players just haven’t been faring very well on their new clubs and the obscure ballers just haven’t seen enough time on the court.
We spoke about how well Johnson would fit with the Heat just two weeks ago, and that prediction has come to fruition in a big way. Joe Jesus is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and 64.3 percent from three in six games and starts with Miami so far. The Heat are 5-1 in those games and could be on an even bigger upswing if Chris Bosh returns to the court this season. Johnson’s signing is another stealthy coup for Pat Riley and co.
David Lee, PF, Dallas
Now we know why Danny Ainge didn’t want Lee on an Eastern Conference playoff team. Though he hasn’t prevented the Mavs from losing four straight and five of eight since going to Dallas, Lee has posted three double-doubles out west after recording none this year while in Boston.
|David Lee 15-16||Min||FG %||Pts||Reb||Blk||PER||O Rtg||D Rtg||WS/48|
Though eight games is clearly a relatively small sample size, Lee has made quite the impact with Dallas and could be an important factor down the stretch as the Mavs look to avoid a first-round matchup with Golden State or San Antonio.
D.J. Augustin, PG, Denver
Though he was traded from a contender in Oklahoma City to a lottery team, Denver, in the Randy Foye trade, Augustin has made the largest impact in that deal.
In a contract year, Augustin is shooting 47.7 percent on 44 3-pointers in his 11 games with the Nuggets and has scored 11.7 points per game as opposed to just 4.2 with the Thunder.
The way he’s playing, Augustin will fetch will over this year’s $3 million salary in free agency.
While Blake Griffin remains injured, Green has been a godsend for Doc Rivers. Though he’s arguably not worth the future first-round pick they sent to Memphis to get him, Green is shooting 47 percent from the field and over 41 percent from three in 25.8 minutes per game.
Los Angeles is 5-4 with Green, and the Clips remain on a first-round collision course with the Grizzlies (yet again) in the first round of the playoffs.
Lance Stephenson, SG, Memphis
This swap is actually working out for both Memphis and Los Angeles. Lance is averaging nearly 12 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting on a team that’s been brutally decimated by season-ending injuries to Marc Gasol and Mario Chalmers and missed games from Mike Conley.
The Grizz can use all the help they can get right now and Stephenson is doing his fair share, even if he isn’t playing that well defensively. With Lance helping Memphis stay afloat, the trade — especially with a first-round pick thrown in — was worth it as the Grizzlies obtained future assets at the trade deadline, too.
Tobias Harris, SF, Detroit
Basically discarded by Orlando to get them cap space this summer, Harris has been a dream for Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons.
|Tobias Harris 15-16||Min||FG %||3 FG %||Pts||Reb||Ast||TS %||PER||O Rtg||D Rtg||WS/48|
Harris has shot nearly 10 percentage points higher from three in his 11 games with the Pistons, really thriving alongside Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. He’s only 23 and his contract will look even more affordable over time.
Courtney Lee, SG, Charlotte
This is a more tricky designation, because Lee’s field goal percentage is worse with Charlotte than he had with Memphis. But the Hornets are 7-2 since Lee began playing for them and he’s shooting 43.3 percent from three in those nine contests. If Charlotte is the team Eastern contenders want to avoid right now, Lee will have played a large part in that alongside the ascending Kemba Walker.
Channing Frye, PF, Cleveland
This is also a tricky one. The numbers have been good for Frye. The results for the Cavs? Not so much.
Frye is shooting 41.4 percent from three in 13.5 minutes per game over eight contests, but Cleveland is just 6-4 since the trade deadline and 4-4 when Frye has played. And something tells me Frye was not acquired for LeBron and Co. to play .500 basketball. Cleveland is outscoring its opponents by 9.3 points per 48 minutes with Frye on the court, per NBA.com. Maybe he should be playing more.
Morris was supposed to solve the Wizards’ small-ball power forward problems, help salvage a disappointing season and obtain a playoff berth. None of that has happened in Morris’ 11 games since he was jettisoned by Phoenix.
‘Kieff’s PER and 3-point percentage are actually worse with the Wizards than with the Suns, with Morris’ percentage from three down to an embarrassing 15.8. Washington is 6-5 since it acquired Morris, and winning at that clip will ensure a previously unthinkable finish in the lottery.
Randy Foye, SG, Oklahoma City
At 32 years old, it appears that Foye’s days as a useful 3-point shooter are over. He’s at 25.9 percent with the Thunder, with bad defense to boot. OKC is -0.3 points per 48 minutes with Foye on the court and -0.6 per 48 when he’s on the bench, per NBA.com. In other words, Foye’s making no difference out there while shooting poorly.
Shelvin Mack, PG, Utah
It was nice for Mack to reunite with college teammate Gordon Hayward in Utah, but Mack has been shooting poorly, not playing very good defense and hasn’t prevented the Jazz from continuing their downward spiral.
Utah is 2-8 in games Mack has played in since acquiring him from Atlanta, and Mack has started in nine of those contests.
The token veteran salary fillers Scott Skiles likes aren’t doing so well. They’re certainly no Tobias Harris. Jennings is shooting 33.3 percent from the field and turning it over on 16.4 percent of his offensive possessions.
Ilyasova has been limited to just 17.4 minutes per game and is shooting 43.5 percent from three over that span, but Orlando is -13.5 points per 48 minutes while he’s on the floor, according to NBA.com. Jennings is at -12.2. Those numbers aren’t very good.
Kris Humphries, PF, Atlanta
After being traded to, and released by, Phoenix, Hump finds himself back in the southeast division. He’s only playing just over 17 minutes per game with the Hawks, and is doing well despite a relatively low shooting percentage. We’ll see if Atlanta gives him more run.
Anderson Varejao, C, Golden State
Varejao is playing 9.3 points per game for the Warriors since he signed on, and is doing nicely in his cameo appearances. But the 33-year-old Brazilian is now just a bit player chasing a ring. If Varejao is going to be obscure, why not do it with the overwhelming title favorites?
Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for SheridanHoops who focuses on analytics, profiles and features. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. Follow him on Twitter.