Looking Pretty Good Now

November, 9, 2009
11/09/09
2:49
PM ET
By Henry Abbott

They won't often say it to the media, but you know they're thinking it. The people who run bad NBA teams watch the good teams and think: If I had those players, everyone would think I was a genius.

Sometimes, though, they did have those players. As it happens, the NBA's best rosters -- the success stories like the Lakers, Celtics, Mavericks, Suns, Rockets and the like -- give heavy minutes to players who couldn't find long-term homes with cellar-dwelling teams.
  • With Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum trying to get healthy, Josh Powell has played some key minutes and been rather productive for the champion Lakers. Not only could the Clippers have had him, but they did.
  • Shelden Williams is looking like a new man in the Celtics' proven system -- and he's contributing to wins doing many of the things that meant almost nothing to the Hawks or Kings.
  • Matt Bonner is now known as the deadly shooter who makes defenses pay for double-teaming the Spurs' stars. But he was once a guy who failed to make his mark as a Raptor.
  • As a Celtic, Eddie House has been a bundle of energy, and a shooter who can get very hot at key times, including in the NBA Finals. At this stage he's seen as a key contributor. But is he really much better now than when he played for the Heat, Clippers, Bobcats, Bucks, Kings, Suns or Nets?
  • Louis Amundson is the Suns' hustling, high-energy big man -- who could barely get on the court when he played for the Sixers.
  • Kyle Lowry gets to the free throw line so much that other ways he contributes to the Rockets' success almost seem like gravy, and has been on the floor much of the time as the Rockets almost beat the Lakers. But the Grizzlies didn't really have a role for him when he was there.
  • The Mavericks surprised a lot of people by signing Kris Humphries, the former Utah and Toronto player. But he has played plenty of minutes on a team that now has a rejuvenated defense.
  • Steve Blake is the starting point guard for the team that finished last season tied for the second best record in the West. But he has passed through the Wizards and Bucks (and Blazers and Nuggets).
  • Jared Dudley had a hard time finding a role in Charlotte, but he has looked better and better since arriving in Phoenix.
  • Quinton Ross has been starting for the Mavericks, but apparently didn't have what it took for the Clippers or Grizzlies to keep him around.

I'm not saying the teams that let these players go made mistakes. Often they just have different priorities.

But I am saying that there's clearly something going on when it's easy to come up with players who couldn't stick with bad teams but are right at home on good teams.

First of all, help me brainstorm this list ... who's missing? And then ... what do you think is going on? Why is this happening?

We'll dig in deeper in a follow-up.

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