Anticipation was the name of the game in July when free agents signed contracts with new teams; perhaps there was even hope. Nearly eight months later there has been resignation, shock and awe, and whispers about damaged goods. All free agents are not good free agents.
This is the Vampire Squid list. Vampire Squids are bottom feeders on the ocean floor. Most don’t know they even exist.
Joakim Noah– the basketball Gods and Phil Jackson pulled a fast one on the Knicks. It remains to be seen if Noah can even play a full season anymore. He has played 80 games twice in his ten year career so exactly what was Phil Jackson thinking signing Noah to a deal that would pay him a fully guaranteed $72 million? Noah’s numbers were worse than anyone, even the Gotham haters, expected: 5.0 points, 43% from the free throw line. At least his field goal percentage isn’t 38% like it was in 2015-16. Noah has the worst defensive rating of his career and it is hard to imagine a scenario where it gets any better but the Knicks are on the hook for three more years. Real Plus-Minus ranks Noah 44th in the NBA among centers, just below Tyler Zeller and Omer Asik. Winner: Noah’s bank account.
Luol Deng: Deng took advantage of a front office that was just fired, that’s how bad Mitch Kupchak and company were last summer when they handed over Deng $72 mil because…..the answer is still marinating. Deng has been grotesquely awful. He could have stood out on a team of young and clueless players but he was often worse than they were. His numbers are atrocious. 38% field goals. 31% from three. 7.6 points. Worst Defensive Rating of his career. The only time his offensive rating was worse was his rookie year. Real Plus-Minus ranks him 36th among small forwards, just below Corey Brewer and Tobias Harris. Winner: Lakers lottery chances.
Al Horford: The Boston Celtics have been starved for a superstar ever since they shipped out the Big Three [Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen].The Celtics are a good team with strong defensive principles but they lack an offensive force that can beat his man and get to the line. The Celtics lured Al Horford but Horford isn’t a superstar, he is a role player and the Celtics are shocked their $113 million man gives them average performances, like on Monday night when he had 6 points and 6 rebounds against the Hawks. He was out rebounded by guard Isaiah Thomas and outscored by a rookie [Jaylen Brown] and a terrible shot maker [Marcus Smart}. On the year, Horford is shooting a career low 45%. His 6.6 rebounds per game are a career low as well and the last time he averaged 14.2 points a game was seven years ago. He has the worst defensive rating of his career. Real Plus-Minus ranks him 9th among centers, just below Maressee Speights and Cody Zeller. Winner: The Cavs. The Celtics aren’t a threat.
Bismack Biymbo: Biyombo is a defensive player who is never going to wow you in the offensive stats department. But this season he has the second worst defensive rating of his career. He was supposed to be the defensive anchor the Orlando Magic needed but he hasn’t been the same Toronto player, separated from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. His rebounding numbers are down. His blocked shots are down. When you pay a player $70 million you want his plus/minus to be over water, not -7.6. Real Plus-Minus ranks him 64th among centers, below Alex Len and Joffrey Lauvergne. Winner: Bismack’s accountant.
Evan Turner: Turner signed a deal for $70 million and it was robbery in Portland. There wasn’t much Turner could do to live up to that contract. He has never been known as an efficient offensive player. The problem in Rip City is that the passionate faithful recognize a perpetrator and Turner was always going to have issues if he got off to a slow start. Injury was the best thing to happen to Turner. His numbers were ghastly. Not scoring 10 points a game. 28% from three. A career low in rebounding for a guard who has been known for physicality in the paint. Turner’s reputation was a defensive one and he has had a career worst defensive rating, the first time in his career it has been north of 110. Real Plus-Minus ranks him as the 79th shooting guard, just behind Josh Richardson and Bojan Bogdanovic. Winner: Everyone but the Blazers.
photo via llananba