Summer League has wrapped up. Most of the big names are off the free agency market. The draft came and went. As we enter the dead of the off-season, I want to talk about a few of the most underrated acquisitions made so far this summer. While adding a star can change an entire organization, the role players push a team over the edge.
Here are six guys on new teams who have a chance to do just that:
T.J. Warren (Brooklyn Nets)
Injuries have held Warren to just four games across the past two seasons, which makes him somewhat of a question mark. However, in 2019-20 when he was last healthy, he put up 19.8 points per game on 52.9% from the field and 40.3% from three. We all remember how dominant he was in the bubble.
Warren is highly productive on and off the ball offensively as a third option, which is exactly what he’ll be in Brooklyn. If he is hooping like his 2020 self, the Nets are going to be very scary.
Warren’s new deal is worth $2.6 million for one season. That’s incredible value (and smart by Sean Marks in case things don’t pan out).
Look out for the Bubble God scorching nets with the Nets next season.
De’Anthony Melton (Philadelphia 76ers)
Four-year man De’Anthony Melton was a key bench piece for the young Grizzlies squad that ascended into one of the best teams in the league last season. He projects to do the same for a 76ers team struggling to get over the hump.
Melton is best known for his disruptive defense. He’s small in stature at just 6’2″, but his 6’8″ wingspan and effort make up for it. He snagged 1.4 steals per game in 2021-22, using his great anticipation and hands to turn offenses over.
On the other end, Melton is a quality catch-and-shooter. He knocked down 38.7% of his triples across the past two seasons.
Fellow incoming Sixer P.J. Tucker is known for being a dog, and Melton fits in that same category. He will add much-needed grit to Philadelphia’s backcourt.
Isaiah Hartenstein (New York Knicks)
Former G-League MVP Isaiah Hartenstein has quietly become a top backup center in the association after getting cut from the Rockets three years ago. He’s productive in all the facets of the game you want to center to produce in and more. The German big man stuffed the stat sheet in just 17 minutes per contest for the Clippers last season, posting averages of 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 blocks on 62.6% shooting.
Hartenstein’s standout skill is his post passing. He has fantastic vision.
He’s also an excellent rim protector. His block percentage (an estimate of what percentage of opponent shot attempts a player blocked when on the floor) of 5.4% is one of the best in the NBA.
The Knicks are looking to bounce back and return to the postseason after disappointing in 2021-22, and Isaiah Hartenstein will certainly help them do so.
Jarred Vanderbilt (Utah Jazz)
Considering the haul of picks Utah received in return for Rudy Gobert, Jarred Vanderbilt hasn’t been mentioned much by fans discussing the blockbuster trade. I think he should be.
I’ve talked about Vando before so I’ll keep it short, but the Jazz are getting the hardest hustling player I’ve ever seen. He’s an elite offensive rebounder and an All-Defense level defender. Utah’s defense was their downfall in the 2021 playoffs, and Vanderbilt can help patch that hole. It only makes sense that one of the most slept-on players in basketball has flown under the radar as an off-season pickup.
Malik Monk (Sacramento Kings)
The Lakers were a dark emptiness in the NBA galaxy last season, but Malik Monk was one of the few stars shining through. He was a reliable offensive weapon, posting 13.8 points per outing and connecting on 39.1% of his treys. He impressed me with the variety of ways he hit the deep ball, whether it was off the bounce, catch, or screen.
Now that he’s been freed from the Lakers, Monk will be able to really show what he can do in Sacramento. He’s joining his college teammate De’Aaron Fox in the backcourt to help fuel the Kings to their first playoff appearance in over a decade.
Kyle Anderson (Minnesota Timberwolves)
When Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt were shipped out to acquire Gobert, people questioned if Minnesota’s perimeter defense would be any better than the Utah unit that struggled mightily in the playoffs. While Jaden McDaniels is awesome and Anthony Edwards has shown flashes, those concerns are valid.
Anderson’s calling card is on that end and will strengthen the Timberwolf defense. You wouldn’t expect it based on his nickname, but he does move pretty well laterally.
On offense, Anderson acts as a nice connecting piece with his solid passing. He can also knock down some corner threes despite his slow release (he shot 43.5% from that location in 2021-22).
Kyle Anderson, A.K.A. Slo Mo, is headed to the Timberwolves where he will provide the same steady contribution that he did in Memphis.
So, those are six players who landed in new places this summer that I think aren’t getting talked about enough. Who do you think is the most underrated pickup of the off-season? Let me know! Thanks for reading, and see you next time!