Dell Demps had a fabulous offseason despite losing an All-NBA center and an All-NBA point guard — who orchestrated the offense to near perfection. The splashes were a hometown reclamation project of a point guard and a criminally undervalued 4/5 hybrid that plays like tumbleweed made from chainsaws propelled by a jet engine.
The early goings have indicated that these moves were masterful, especially now that Julius Randle is no longer hampered by the scalding fireplace poker to the foot that is plantar fasciitis. Then there’s the currently raved over addition of Wesley Johnson — a starter’s house of a wing — that isn’t a game changer, but whose fit, role and average NBA abilities are a boost to the team’s defense, allowing Alvin Gentry to keep Solomon Hill stapled to the bench.
These moves deserve applause, but Dell deserves props for two other signings as well — even if they aren’t currently on the team. Demps had signed two excellent young hustle guys who had size, defensive pedigree and in the case of at least one of them, some playmaking ability. Unfortunately, the Clippers matched his offer for Tyrone Wallace and Kenrich Williams was chosen over Troy Williams. Imagine how much better you’d feel if Wallace hadn’t been matched and if Troy was on the roster while Kenrich was in our inexplicably unused two-way roster spot.
In case you haven’t been paying attention to the Sacramento Kings — and even as a long time Kings’ fan I understand why you would not have been, but they are fun now so give ‘em a look — Troy Williams is giving them quality minutes.
Despite being on a two-way contract with the Kings, Sacramento has shown early trust in Williams by giving him 17 minutes per game in the six games that he’s played. In that span he’s taking 2.2 threes per game and converting 46.2% from deep. Looking at his numbers across 100 possessions they show how he is affecting all aspects of the game — 18.8 points on 13.1 attempts (53.3% from the field), 3.1 trips to the line (71.4% conversion), 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steal and 0.9 block with a 127 ORTG and a 112 DRTG. And then there’s the hustle stats — 2.44 deflections, 1.32 loose balls recovered and 6 contested shots per 32 minutes.
I didn’t understand the choice of Williamses, but at least Dell proved once again to be a trash heap gourmet. Still, it’s the other guy that hurts the most — especially because the Clippers aren’t even using him as he's only appeared in five games (getting only 5.5 minutes per game in those games). Then again it’s not surprising as they have a glut of guards including Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic, Avery Bradley and rookie stud Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Pels really need their starting PG back and probably another vet PG in the second unit.— Jesse Brooks (@jessecbrooks) November 15, 2018
Big Swings For Big Guards
The Brooklyn Nets are a scrappy team made up of decent salary cap dumped veterans with attached draft assets and solid young players — though they haven’t landed their true breakout star yet. They currently sit in the way too early to be concerned with 8th spot in the East, but a few good bounces their way could have had them further up the charts. They are well coached and play hard. The Nets could be looking to fight for a playoff spot, but more than likely they were looking to find ways to get more draft capital and finally cash in on their own lottery pick even before Caris LeVert was carted off of the floor after suffering a gruesome dislocated right foot.
Spencer Dinwiddie has been a solid playmaker for the Nets despite being used as a backup when D’Angelo Russell is healthy. Russell seems like he is the chosen 1 guard for Brooklyn and at 22 is young enough to pilot a youth movement built around a 2019 lottery pick, LaVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Allen. Dinwiddie isn’t old, but he will be 26 next season, which would fit perfectly with the Pelicans’ core. The Nets could find him expendable due to his pending free agency, having Shabazz Napier locked up for next season and because he should fetch a late first round pick, which they could use to add another rookie, move up in the draft or to use to acquire a soon-to-be-named-big-name that’s being shopped.
Trading for Spencer is a gamble as I’ve already mentioned his pending unrestricted free agency; however, he would come with his bird rights. Also, considering that Elfrid Payton will also be a free agent this summer without bird rights, having Dinwiddie’s would be a nice security blanket (and maybe even an improvement). He also slides right into Dante Cunningham’s trade exception — a deal that was done with Brooklyn last season so a deal could center purely around draft picks — a 1st and possibly a 2nd.
So what does he do for New Orleans besides providing Elfrid insurance? He adds size to the backcourt like a Tyrone Wallace. Spencer is a 6’-6” 200lbs point guard that can tower over smaller guards on defense, switch onto wings and post up smaller guys on offense. Dinwiddie also piloted the 6th fastest team last year, starting 58 games in Brooklyn last season and playing just under 30 minutes per contest.
He’s a good finisher around the rim, converting 68.6% of his attempts. Plus, five of his 24 makes this season have been assisted, showing an ability to create for himself. Dinwiddie hasn’t proven to be a consistently good shooter over his career, but he’s off to a great start this season — 39.4% from deep on over 5 attempts per game.
His presence would provide stability to the Pelicans’ 2nd unit and his size and defensive ability would provide major upgrades over Tim Frazier and Ian Clark — it would also allow for more three guard lineups that don’t give up much defensively.
I have a well documented love affair with Tomas Satoransky, but while the fire sale in DC seems inevitable, he no longer fits into any of the Pelicans’ trade exceptions. However, sending Darius Miller to Washington saves the Wizards money and replaces an in-theory three-point marksman, who is shot shy, with a ball-handling sharpshooter, who is begging to get off of the leash.
Satoransky uses his height — 6’-7” — to see the passing lanes develop. It also makes him a decent rebounder for his position, giving the Wizards seven rebounds per 100 possessions last season when he carried a huge load filling in for the injured John Wall in 30 starts.
Oddly, despite having a great deal of regular season success with Tomas running the offense in the regular season, Scott Brooks chose to utilize newly signed Ty Lawson in the playoffs. This odd pivot from Satoransky has carried over to this season as he’s averaged under 12 minutes per game while Austin Rivers is getting 23 minutes. Like most players in DC, Tomas needs saving, and he’s on a team that’s on the verge of blowing it up.
Satoransky’s drive and finish or kick ability and his three point stroke (46.5% last season and 40% this season) make him a perfect fit for Alvin Gentry’s offense. His size and instincts make him a solid fit for Darren Erman’s defensive schemes. He’s simply a guy that does multiple things well on the court — drives, dunks, passes, shoots, rebounds and defends the three-point line (he held opponents to just 29% from three last season) — bundled attributes that come in short supply outside of the top 6 or 7 in the Pels’ rotation.
Like Dinwiddie, he will hit free agency this summer, but he’ll be restricted, giving the Pelicans a very good amount of control on his future contract. Washington’s grotesque chemistry project seems ripe for looting — Dell would be wise to make a play for a possible future starter or at least a key rotation piece. A protected 1st plus Darius or Miller plus a couple of seconds is where I’d start the conversation. With Miller gone, I’d also waive Tim Frazier and bring in Jaron Blossomgame to develop along with Kenrich Williams on the wing.
The Pelicans want to ‘Do it Bigger’ this season, and backcourt size and versatility is available should they be willing to pay the price. However, there are some small guys that could ease Payton and Holiday’s burden should Dell not be willing to throw draft picks at these potential pieces — those are coming in part 2 — stay tuned.