NBA Veterans with Lack of Playoff Success Flocking to Contenders
Every NBA offseason, there’s a crazy amount of player movement. Between trades and signings, most rosters make at least a few changes. And when you consider that there are 30 teams, a lot is going on.
In the first three days of free agency this year, 77(!) players signed contracts. That’s truly wild, and it basically means that there was basically news every hour on the hour. With all of this happening, we see teams that are projected to compete for the title trying to add solid veterans.
There are four players in that category that have been the league for 7+ years and not reached the conference finals more than once. When the chance to compete for an NBA championship is available, you sign the contract and you go.
Read on as I delve into those players, and their fits in their new cities.
DJ Augustin has been a part of eight teams in his NBA career through his first 12 years. It was great to see him find stability on Orlando for the last four, after moving around so often. Believe it or not, Augustin has only made it past the first-round of the NBA Playoffs once.
When he was serving as George Hill’s backup in Indiana, the team lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the years since then, he has made the playoffs with the Bulls and Magic (twice). He’s played in 38 playoff games over the course of his career, with averages of eight points and two assists.
He’s now on his way to join the Bucks, to play the role that his old teammate, Hill, played prior. He’ll be a good fit on a Milwaukee team that is brimming with talent, and expected to make some serious noise in the East.
When he entered the NBA as an undrafted player in 2012, it didn’t seem that Kent Bazemore would last very long. He was a great bench teammate and hype man during his first year in Golden State, but his minutes were limited. As soon as he was traded to the Lakers in year two, things changed.
He averaged 13 points per game over 28 appearances, and then latched on with the Hawks the following year. He spent five years in Atlanta, proving himself to be a decent scorer and fantastic defender. He played with the Blazers and Kings last season.
Bazemore has made the playoffs four times, advancing in three of those appearances. He made it to the Conference Finals with the Hawks in 2014-15, though the team was swept by Cleveland.
In all, he has appeared in 41 playoff games (12 starts), averaging seven points and four boards. Now that he’s back in Golden State, he’ll likely be the primary backup for Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre. It’ll be fun to see his reactions to Steph Curry’s best moments, as it was eight years ago.
Like Bazemore, Wesley Matthews was also undrafted. But, it didn’t take him long to become an impactful player. He started as a rookie on a Utah Jazz team that advanced in the playoffs in 2009-10. But he wasn’t long for Utah, signing as a free-agent with Portland in the offseason.
He made the playoffs twice with the TrailBlazers, advancing once. He also had playoff experience during his time with Dallas, Indiana and Milwaukee. He didn’t play too well in the postseason after his days in Portland, though. In all, he’s appeared in 46 playoff games (all starts), averaging 12 points and three rebounds, shooting 39.7% from floor and 34% from three.
Now that he’s off to the Lakers, it seems that this is likely the year that Wes is going to find himself in the Conference Finals for the first time. Playing alongside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis should be fun for him. He’ll fill the role that Danny Green did last season.
“Alex Len is considered a veteran?? But he’s only 27!” Yes, he is, because he has played seven years in the NBA. Given that the ‘average’ career only lasts three seasons and he’s doubled that, he more than qualifies as a vet.
Len’s career has been disappointing given that he was the #5 pick by the Suns. But, the fact that he’s still around and finding minutes might say otherwise. He’s averaged eight points, six rebounds and a blocked shot per game in 467 appearances (183 starts) in Phoenix, Atlanta and Sacramento.
Len has never appeared in a playoff game, but that should change this year. He inked a deal with the Toronto Raptors, likely serving as the backup for Chris Boucher, who will be backing up Aron Baynes. The East will be stacked this year, but Toronto should be in the mix to win the conference after re-signing Fred VanVleet.
Good for Len. He worked hard, stuck around, and he’ll finally get to see playoff action in 2020-21.