Under the Radar: Impactful NBA Free Agent Signing in the WC
The NBA free agent frenzy is on with teams looking to change their fate for the upcoming season. NBA Lines are changing every day as rosters add a piece or two that change the face of a franchise.
The Western Conference is no stranger to that as the Suns, Lakers, and Rockets have made impactful moves that could change the way their seasons go in unexpected ways. These three signings are heavily underrated and we believe they could have an important impact on the NBA Odds for these three hopeful contenders:
Houston Rockets signed Jock Landale for 4 years and $32 million
Amidst Fred VanVleet’s substantial contract worth over $43 million per season and the addition of wing Dillon Brooks, it’s understandable that Landale might not be at the forefront of discussions regarding Houston Rockets‘ players. However, this 27-year-old center presents an intriguing gamble, particularly considering that only the first year of his four-year, $32 million deal is fully guaranteed.
During his time with the Suns last season, Landale showcased productivity despite playing limited minutes, averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in just 14 minutes per game. His relentless drive and ability to locate the ball made an impression on both ends of the court.
Although the NBA Suns franchise faced depth challenges in their second-round matchup against the Nuggets, Landale’s performance in the series was noteworthy. He consistently contributed positive plus-minus numbers in five of the six games, culminating in a playoff career-high 13 points and five rebounds in the final game. Following the series, he openly discussed the daunting task of defending Nikola Jokić, demonstrating a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in stopping him. While he couldn’t entirely contain Jokić, Landale’s insights and meticulous approach to his craft revealed his unwavering dedication, which will undoubtedly benefit the young Houston team in need of such attributes.
Los Angeles Lakers signed Taurean Prince on a 1 year $4,5 million contract
The Lakers, more than any other team, experienced firsthand the importance of depth over an abundance of star power. Despite the widespread belief that the team would be better off without Russell Westbrook, his presence often disrupted the team’s chemistry due to his struggles as a jump shooter.
It came as no surprise when the Los Angeles Lakers experienced a surge after parting ways with Westbrook. General Manager Rob Pelinka addressed several team needs by acquiring D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley to bolster their shooting, as well as Jarred Vanderbilt to enhance rebounding and versatile defense. These additions seamlessly integrated into a conference-finals rotation that also saw increased contributions from slasher Austin Reaves and newcomer Rui Hachimura, who both performed exceptionally well.
In a similar vein, Prince, a 6’7″ wing at 29 years old, represents another solid addition to the Lakers’ roster. Although he may not attract attention with flashy plays, he brings reliability and consistency. Prince is a skilled defender and a dependable three-point shooter, boasting a career average of 37.2%. On a team hungry for reliable shooting, his presence fills a crucial role. Depth played a vital part in the Lakers’ championship victory in 2020, and it is poised to have a significant impact once again in their pursuit of the NBA title in 2024, considering the team’s current roster configuration.
Phoenix Suns signed Yuta Watanabe to a one year $2.3 million deal
It would come as no surprise if the Suns, aiming to enhance Kevin Durant’s comfort level following a challenging postseason in the previous year, decided to bring in Watanabe, in part due to their exceptional chemistry in the 2022-23 season.
However, it is crucial not to underestimate Watanabe’s abilities. Despite being 28 years old, he showcased remarkable shooting skills, hitting 44% of his three-point attempts and maintaining an impressive 49% shooting accuracy overall.
Notably, statistical data from the league indicates that his performance was even more outstanding when playing alongside Durant. Watanabe demonstrated remarkable efficiency, shooting a staggering 66.7% (8-for-12) from beyond the arc and an equal 66.7% overall (14-for-21) after receiving passes from the seasoned superstar. Moreover, he displayed remarkable accuracy, hitting 51.4% of his three-point shots from the corners, making it clear that opposing defenses cannot afford to leave him open, even with the presence of Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal on the court, who naturally draw defenders.
What sets Watanabe apart and makes him an ideal fit for the Phoenix Suns is his exceptional energy and commitment to defense, perfectly aligning with head coach Frank Vogel’s coaching philosophy. Although he may not start every game, Watanabe is expected to receive significant playing time, especially when Kevin Durant shares the court.
Despite having only played together for a single season in Brooklyn, Durant and Watanabe demonstrated undeniable chemistry both on and off the court. Their synergy was a factor that the Suns took into careful consideration during the offseason, ultimately leading them to strike a deal with the talented 27-year-old Watanabe.