5 underrated moves from the 2023 NBA offseason

teammate Kyrie Irving

Much of the chatter around the NBA offseason centered on marquee players that either changed teams: Bradley Beal to Phoenix, Chris Paul to Golden State, Kristaps Porzingis to Boston, Marcus Smart to Memphis, Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks to Houston, Jordan Poole to Washington …

Or decided to re-sign or extend with their current squad to run it back: Jaylen Brown in Boston, Dejounte Murray in Atlanta, Tyrese Haliburton in Indiana, LaMelo Ball in Charlotte, Desmond Bane in Memphis, Anthony Edwards in Minnesota, Domantas Sabonis in Sacramento, Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton in Milwaukee, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell in Los Angeles, Kyrie Irving in Dallas, Draymond Green in Golden State, Cam Johnson in Brooklyn and Kyle Kuzma in Washington …

A generational prospect at the top of a talented draft class: Victor Wembanyama (to San Antonio), Brandon Miller (to Charlotte), and Scoot Henderson (to Portland) going with the top three overall picks …

And a pair of multi-time All-Stars making trade requests that have yet to be realized: Portland’s Damian Lillard and Philadelphia’s James Harden.

But several moves have flown under the radar that could make an impact come October when the 2023-24 season tips off. Here is a closer look at five underrated moves from this office

1. Seth Curry signs with Dallas

In the 3-point era, signing a player with the sixth-highest 3-point percentage in league history (43.5%) seems like a pretty good idea. Curry returns to Dallas for the third time in his career after spending the 2016-17 season (12.8 ppg, 42.5% 3P) and 2019-20 season (12.4 ppg, 45.2% 3P) with the Mavericks. He has never shot below 40% from 3-point range over a full season in his career.

Curry’s ability to knock down 3s makes him a perfect complement to the star duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who each can break down defenses and create open looks for teammates spread across the perimeter. In his one season playing with Doncic in 2019-20, Curry shot a team-best (and league-best, minimum 100 attempts) 48.1% on catch-and-shoot 3s. After Irving arrived at the trade deadline last season, the Mavericks ranked third in both 3-pointers made (16.4 per game) and 3-point percentage (38.9%). Adding Curry should only help those numbers next season.

2. Obi Toppin traded to Indiana

After spending the first three seasons of his NBA career in an inconsistent role in New York, Toppin can take advantage of a change of scenery after he was traded by the Knicks to the Pacers for a pair of second-round draft picks. Toppin showed flashes of the talent that made him a top-10 draft pick in 2020, but he averaged under 15 minutes per game with the Knicks, including 15.7 last season.

Toppin is an elite athlete who excels in transition (22.9% of his points came in transition last season), which makes him a perfect fit for an Indiana squad that is young, plays fast (fifth in pace at 101.68), and led the NBA in transition scoring (27 points per game). Indiana’s 1.18 points per transition possession ranked fourth in the NBA last season; Toppin was even better individually as he ranked 25th in the league at 1.28 pm. Expect to see plenty of lobs from Haliburton to Toppin this season as the Pacers should be a fun team to watch.

3. Jevon Carter signs with the Bulls

With the news that Lonzo Ball is expected to miss the entire 2023-24 regular season, the Bulls needed to add point guard depth to its roster this offseason. The addition of Carter should help fill that void. Carter is entering his sixth NBA season and spent the past season and a half with the Milwaukee Bucks. In 101 games with Milwaukee, Carter averaged 7.6 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 3-pointers in 21.4 minutes per game while shooting 43.7% from 3-point range.

Carter gives the Bulls a reliable point guard (he posted a 2.87 assist/turnover ratio in Milwaukee) who can execute an offense and help stretch the floor with elite 3-point shooting. His 42.1% shooting from long range last season ranked 12th in the NBA; meanwhile, the Bulls ranked last in the league in 3-pointers made (10.4 per game) and attempted (28.9 per game) last season.

4. Tyus Jones traded to Washington in a 3-team deal

While Kristaps Porzingis (to Boston) and Marcus Smart (to Memphis) were the marquee names in the three-team trade between the Celtics, Grizzlies, and Wizards in late June, do not overlook the addition of Jones to the Wizards’ new-look backcourt alongside Jordan Poole.

Jones has already established himself as one of the top backup point guards in the league and now gets a chance at a starting gig in D.C. after being a reserve for much of his first eight seasons in the league (94 starts in 535 career games). However, it is important to look at Jones’ production in those limited starts.

Last season, Jones started 22 games, averaging 16.4 points and 8.1 assists while shooting 50% from the field and 41.5% from 3-point range on nearly five attempts per game. Jones also led the NBA in assist/turnover ratio at an impressive 5.64 assists per turnover. Jones is a steady playmaker who doesn’t turn the ball over and can knock down 3-pointers at a 40% clip.

5. Taurean Prince signs with the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are widely regarded as one of the clear winners of this offseason’s free agency period as they retained their key free agents – re-signing Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and D’Angelo Russell to multi-year deals – while also making some key additions in guard Gabe Vincent, who’s coming off Miami’s Finals run, and Jaxson Hayes from New Orleans to add depth to the frontline.

One name that has flown under the radar is Prince, a 6-foot-7 wing whose 3-point shooting should be a great fit alongside the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Entering his eighth NBA season, Prince is a career 37.2% 3-point shooter. Prince played the past two seasons in Minnesota and is coming off a season in which he averaged 9.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 3-pointers on 38.1% shooting in just over 22 minutes per game.

In addition to spacing the floor on offense, Prince is also a capable perimeter defender with good size, length, and athleticism to guard opposing wings. The Lakers were the top defensive team in the Western Conference (and third-best in the NBA) following last season’s trade deadline. Prince should fit right in with that end of the Lakers’ identity.


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