5 Role Player Signings Who Could Shape The NBA
- Updated: September 13, 2019
When it comes to NBA free agency, the focus is always, understandably, on the stars. The 2019 summer saw an unprecedented flurry of All-Star-caliber players switching teams, and Sports Monks has already taken a look ahead at some of the big names that could be on the move next summer. In between though, there’s a season to play, and there’s reason to believe that this time it might not be decided by the stars.
The aforementioned flurry of movement we saw in the last few months led to more distribution of talent around the league. About a thousand articles have zeroed in on the idea that “Big Threes” have become “Big Twos,” which means more teams with star duos rather than just a handful with an embarrassment of riches. And because there will be no Golden State Warriors or early-2010s Miami Heat to overwhelm the competition with future Hall of Famers, it may just be the team with the best role players that winds up on top.
So, I’m looking at five such players who changed teams this off-season, who could help to define the league despite being in the shadow of the stars.
Here are list of 5 NBA players who changed their teams this off-season:
1. Willie Cauley-Stein (Golden State Warriors)
Willie Cauley-Stein is no great talent, but on a team like the Warriors he could provide ideal depth. He was essentially squeezed out of Sacramento by the promise of young big men Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, and wound up signing with the Warriors for less than some thought he was worth. Now, the buzz is that he’s much improved, and that he’ll be starting at center for a Golden State team looking to stay on top after the departure of Kevin Durant (and the torn ACL of Klay Thompson). It’s fair to doubt whether WCS is up for that kind of role – but if he succeeds the Warriors could be right back in title contention, and that certainly makes him a pivotal role player.
2. Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers)
Calling Malcolm Brogdon a role player is almost stretching things a bit; he was Rookie of the Year just a few seasons ago. Still, he’s almost a “role player” in style as much as ability. Brogdon thrives doing the little things – hitting an open jumper, sparking a late-game run, locking down opposing guards, and protecting possession – all of which could make him an invaluable addition for the Pacers. Victor Oladipo is the star in town, or will be when he fully recovers from injury. And Myles Turner is a budding star in the paint as well. But if Brogdon is as good with the Pacers as he was in Milwaukee, he could become the third cog on a team with an outside shot at a Finals run.
3. Danny Green (LA Lakers)
Undeniably, the Lakers are one of the top teams to watch heading into the season. Not only are they simply the Lakers, always in command of a disproportionate amount of attention, but for the first time since Kobe Bryant’s prime they’re legitimately expected to contend. Newly available U.S. sportsbooks, in their early looks at the NBA, have the Lakers among the top three or four contenders for the championship. Naturally, this is mostly because of the presence of LeBron James and the addition of Anthony Davis. However, again, it will be the role players who make the difference for the league’s new two-star teams, and Danny Green has proven to be one of the best of them when it comes to the playoffs. The sharpshooting guard is no star, but he has rings from his time with the Spurs and Raptors for a reason.
4. Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah Jazz)
The big story with the Utah Jazz this off-season was the signing of Mike Conley, and it’s true that the longtime Grizzlies point guard could make a huge difference in Utah. He’s the best point guard the franchise has had since John Stockton, and the primary reason a lot of people are eyeing the Jazz for a major leap. Don’t overlook Bogdanovic though. The Bosnian forward shot over 42% from three last season, for a career-high 18 points per game. He could essentially be a more consistent version of Joe Ingles. Though with Ingles still around, the two of them together could be superb role players alongside Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and big man Rudy Gobert.
5. DeMarre Carroll (San Antonio Spurs)
DeMarre Carroll is past his prime, and wouldn’t move the needle for just any team at this point. However, when the Spurs acquire a player who’s still got some game, it’s worth taking note. San Antonio’s best players from a pure talent standpoint remain LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, and it appears clear that Gregg Popovich wants Derrick White to join their ranks. Carroll, though, may be just the sort of versatile, savvy veteran who can provide an unexpected jolt on this specific team. On paper, the Spurs aren’t as good as the West’s heavyweights anymore, but it’s become fair to expect them to be more than the sum of their parts. And if that’s the case again, it will be in part thanks to Carroll.