The Best Trade Deadline Free Agent Signings


Some teams, like Cleveland and Detroit, made big splashes at the trade deadline. Cleveland traded six players away to net themselves Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and George Hill. Detroit traded away two starters and Boban Marjanovic to get Blake Griffin.

Other teams, however, sought value at this year’s trade deadline. These players were signed to mid-season deals that only employs them through the end of this current season, but their teams have certainly gotten fair value from these deals. Here are the players:

C – Emeka Okafor – New Orleans Pelicans

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Before the Pelicans picked him up this year, Emeka Okafor had not played basketball since the 2012-2013 season. After a four year absence from in-game NBA basketball, Okafor has delivered as the starting center for New Orleans.

Okafor has only played 15.7 minutes per game through 9 games, but the effect has been there. New Orleans has yet to lose a game he starts in, and Okafor is averaging 11.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 4.1 blocks per 36 minutes. Only four other players in NBA History have done that with over 10 played minutes per game: 1989-90 Hakeem Olajuwon, 2015-16 Hassan Whiteside, 1979-1980 Tree Rollins, and 1979-1980 Bill Walton. Not bad for a rusty 35 year old.

C – Greg Monroe – Boston Celtics

Brad Mills / USA Today Sports

After spending the first seven years of his career on two teams, Greg Monroe is now on his third team this season after getting traded from Milwaukee to Phoenix in the Eric Bledsoe trade, but Moose has been effective for the Celtics since Boston picked him up off waivers.

Monroe is averaging 19.4 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.8 steals per 36 minutes on 53.7% field goal shooting since joining the Celtics.  The only player to have matched that production (with a lower shooting percentage) over the course of a whole season is Hakeem Olajuwon. Usually a weakness of Monroe’s is defense,  but his .97 points allowed per possession is fantastic. Monroe is doing big work in limited minutes.

PF – Ersan Illyasova – Philadelphia 76ers

NBC Sports

Ilyasova has caught fire since joining Philadelphia for the 2nd time in his career. This time around, he’s a more integral piece in a much better puzzle as the 76ers are competing for a playoff spot. The 28-54 team last season is now 35-28 with a 20-9 record since December 30th.

Ilyasova has averaged 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game while shooting 51.7% from the field and 41.7% from three.  The only other players to clear those averages on those shooting percentages are Jonas Valanciunas and Kevin Durant. Ilyasova’s floor spacing is really helping Philadelphia out, and the veteran leadership he brings cannot be discounted either.

SG – Marco Belinelli – Philadelphia 76ers

Ken Blaze / USA TODAY Sports

Here’s another Atlanta Hawk that the 76ers added near the deadline. Belinelli has been similarly impressive and helpful in the back court that Ilyasova has been in the front court. The former San Antonio Spur is the only member of the 76ers with championship (winning) experience, and is highly valuable as a rotation guy.

Marco is averaging 11.0 points per game on 43.8% shooting and 88.9% at the free throw line. Only 10 players have cleared those criteria this season: Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Darren Collison, Dario Saric, J.J. Redick, Dirk Nowitzki, Jamal Murray, and Courtney Lee.  That’s a very efficient group of guards, wings, and Nowitzkis. His three point shot hasn’t quite gotten all the way to Philadelphia yet, but it will with time.

PG – Trey Burke – New York Knicks

Elite Sports New York

Trey Burke came out of no where to become arguably the most efficient payer on the New York Knicks. Burke had washed out of the league it had seemed after no one signed him this summer following a disappointing campaign as John Wall‘s back up in Washington.

The 5th year player from Michigan is averaging 22.0 points, 8.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per 36 minutes on 50.3% shooting. Only one other player is cracking that production with that efficiency – LeBron James. The only players to have that per-36 minute production with low shooting percentages are Russell Westbrook and James Harden.  The Knicks are only giving Burke a chance because they have nothing to lose, but kudos to him for rising to the occasion.

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