When it comes to free-agent signings, bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes the deals that make the smallest ripple in July can make the largest splash the following season. Just look at Seth Curry. The Mavs signed Steph’s little bro to a two-year, $6 million deal last summer and he rewarded the club by averaging a career-high 12.8 points per game while nailing 42% of his three-point attempts. Meanwhile, pricier free agents like Luol Deng, Al Jefferson, and Chandler Parsons all flamed out in spectacular fashion after signing exorbitant new deals.
We already looked at the worst of the worst from the 2017 free-agent feeding frenzy. Who are this year’s biggest bargains? Join us as we break down five of the NBA`’s savviest offseason signings and share our props and odds on their 2017-18 production. If you disagree with our order below, which goes from best to worst (but still very good), there’s a frigid comment section that’s craving your hot-take.
1. P.J. TUCKER (ROCKETS)
Trading for Chris Paul was Houston’s biggest offseason move, but signing P.J. Tucker to a four-year, $32 million deal may have been the smartest. The rugged 6’6” forward is a prototypical “3 and D” who provides the kind of gritty, in-your-face defense and invaluable floor spacing that every contending club cherishes. Now entering his seventh NBA season, Tucker should benefit from the most open looks of his career in 2017-18 as teams are forced to pick their poison with Paul and James Harden on the court. Good luck with that! Look for his three-point shooting (35.7% last year; 35.1% career) to improve accordingly, and don’t be surprised if Toronto’s win total dips without Tucker in their lineup.
Odds P.J. Tucker is named to an NBA All-Defensive team in 2017-18: 19/1
2. PATRICK PATTERSON (THUNDER)
Oklahoma City’s acquisition of Paul George may have stolen all the headlines this offseason, but league insiders are just as bullish about the three-year, $16.4 million contract the team handed out to Patrick Patterson. One of the game’s premiere glue guys, the 6’9” Kentucky product is the ideal stretch four for today’s NBA. He’s big enough to pound in the post and he can stretch defenses to their breaking point with his vastly improved three-point stroke. The Raptors’ net rating rose by +10.9 last season when he was on the floor, and he’ll likely have an even bigger impact in OKC playing alongside better defenders like Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, and Steven Adams. The Thunder have a major need at the four with the departures of Taj Gibson and Domantas Sabonis, and the 28-year-old Patterson should slide into the spot seamlessly.
Over/Under on Patrick Patterson’s net rating in 2017-18: +12.5
3. DEWAYNE DEDMON (HAWKS)
You may not know Dewayne Dedmon’s name, but you should definitely know his game. The no-nonsense seven-footer was the centerpiece of San Antonio’s league-leading defense last season. The team allowed just 97.5 points per 100 possessions with Dedmon on the floor, and he finished behind only Rudy Gobert in Defensive Real Plus-Minus amongst NBA centers. Atlanta signed Dedmon to a two-year, $14 million deal, which is a far cry from the $23 million annual salary they would have had to pay Dwight Howard if they had kept him on the books. Granted, Dedmon doesn’t have Howard’s star quality, but he’s also four years younger and won`t consume the team from within like a flesh-eating virus. That counts for more than you may imagine on a team full of young and impressionable players.
Odds Dewayne Dedmon leads the NBA in blocks in 2017-18: 10/1
4. NICK YOUNG (WARRIORS)
The Warriors gave Nick Young a one-year, $5.9 million deal, but let’s be perfectly honest: the amount of entertainment he generates is easily worth fives times that. Whether he’s stealing passes from his teammates or celebrating missed three pointers, Swaggy P is one of the most electrifying and unpredictable athletes of his generation. He’s also become a pretty decent baller. Young shot over 40% from deep last season and averaged 13.2 points in just 25.9 minutes per game for the Baby Lakers. He was even spotted playing defense on a few occasions and, if you know anything about Young, that’s almost as rare as a Bigfoot sighting, and arguably less credible. The bottom line is this: If Young is the best player on your team, you’re bound for the lottery, but if he’s the ninth-best player (as he will be on Golden State), then you should probably start planning your parade route right now.
Over/Under on number of threes Nick Young will launch per game in 2017-18: 4.5
5. MILOS TEODOSIC (CLIPPERS)
Milos Teodosic will be a rookie in name only this season when he joins the Los Angeles Clippers after inking a two-year, $12.3 million deal. The 30-year-old Serbian has long been considered the best player in Europe and has been linked to a half dozen U.S. teams after being named the EuroLeague MVP in 2010. Anyone concerned with how he’ll fare against NBA competition need only watch game film from the 2016 Olympics. Teodosic scored a cool 18 points against the U.S. in the gold medal game and gave opposing guards fits all tournament long with his crafty moves and quick trigger. Teodosic previously played with fellow Clipper newcomer Patrick Beverly in Greece, and the pair should form a fun-as-hell backcourt for the new run and gun Clips.
Odds Milos Teodosic will be in the Clippers starting lineup in 2017-18: 15/1
Rudy Gay (Spurs): two years, $17.2 million
Jonathan Simmons (Magic): three years, $20 million
Andre Roberson (Thunder): three years, $30 million