Tuesday, August 25, 2009 Updated: September 14, 3:34 PM ET
Summer Forecast: Best newcomer
Richard Jefferson joins Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich. We'd smile, too.
There has been much player movement this offseason, with big names changing teams and conference pecking orders. So, on the second day of our Summer Forecast series, we ask 53 of ESPN's best basketball minds: Who will be the best newcomer this season?
Here's the voting breakdown:
Jefferson (14 votes)
The first big move of the offseason will prove to be the best move, more than one-quarter of our voters said. RJ is the piece that will get the Spurs back into the West's elite. Jefferson's shooting numbers were down last season with the Bucks, but he shot 40 percent from beyond the arc and still knows how to score. Playing in a winning atmosphere certainly will help matters, too.
Most important, perhaps, is that RJ has been healthy for the past two years -- something the Spurs' big three has not been -- and he's still on the right side of 30. If he proves to be the perfect fit, the Spurs could push the Lakers for the Western Conference crown.
O'Neal (8 votes)
Witness this: Seven of our voters -- and Cleveland's front office -- are banking on a motivated Shaq to take the Cavs to new heights. Although some wonder whether Shaq can take a backseat to LeBron or handle Dwight Howard come playoff time, there's no question there's still some Diesel left in the tank. Adding his post presence to a team that won 66 games last season without one makes Shaq's mission -- "Win a ring for the King" -- look highly possible.
Artest (6 votes)
To gain this honor, Artest is in a tough spot. When you join the defending champs, there are plenty of opportunities for downward mobility. Ordinary things can derail any title favorite (hello, injuries), perhaps a far more likely event than Ron-Ron Twittering Kobe & Co. into a funk. But with his drive and focus to earn a first title, it could be time to paint the portrait of Artest as a champion.
Carter (6 votes)
All things considered, many of the voters here eventually could rue not hopping onto this bandwagon. Although the "Heir Jordan" references vanished long ago, the numbers indicate Carter will be an upgrade over Turkoglu. So the Magic lose some length? How about VC's many strengths, such as his still-powerful forays to the hoop? Think his solid 3-point accuracy (38.5 percent) with the woeful Nets last season will improve when he plays alongside the best big man in the game?
Marion (3 votes)
Sure, he's coming off his lowest scoring average (12.9 points per game) since his rookie season, but there are three good reasons Marion earned three votes: (1) He should enjoy life in the fast lane again, this time with Jason Kidd running the break; (2) he can still defend multiple positions; and (3) there's no way he can shoot any worse from downtown than he did last season (19 percent).
Miller (3 votes)
The Blazers wanted Turkoglu, but landing Miller might be a blessing in disguise. He gives the team a veteran presence and, more importantly, allows Brandon Roy to play off the ball. Although he can't spread the floor with his 3-point shot, he can get the ball into the hands of those who can shoot it from deep and get the team easy baskets in transition. And if it doesn't work out, Portland can let him walk in two years.
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Turkoglu (3 votes)
Turkoglu provided the best offseason intrigue when he nearly signed with Portland and then, at the eleventh hour, opted for Toronto. He gives the Raptors a sense of the dramatic on the court, too: His late-game heroics were special in the '09 playoffs. Yes, $53 million is a lot for a guy who shot only 41 percent from the floor (110th in the NBA) and 35 percent from behind the arc (95th) last season, but he'll take some pressure off Chris Bosh and maybe even persuade him to stay.
Wallace (3 votes)
No doubt Wallace needed a change of scenery after five years in Detroit. Boston is probably the perfect place for him now. He'll get to start fresh with a title contender loaded with veterans. Sheed will play a smaller role than he did with the Pistons, but he still needs to get in shape and keep his emotions in check. Either way, he is a considerable upgrade over Mikki Moore.
Henry Abbott (ESPN.com TrueHoop senior writer), J.A. Adande (ESPN.com senior writer), Kevin Arnovitz (ESPN.com TrueHoop Network editor), Andrew Ayres (ESPN.com NBA editor), Jon Barry (ESPN NBA analyst), Bruce Bernstein (ESPN NBA Studio Production), Alfredo Berrios (ESPN Deportes editor), Dwayne Bray (ESPN Studio Production), Jordan Brenner (ESPN Insider editor), Lisa Brooks (ESPN Stats & Information), Maurice Brooks (ESPN.com NBA editor), Chris Broussard (ESPN The Magazine senior writer), Ric Bucher (ESPN The Magazine senior writer), Michael Bucklin (ESPN Interactive Games), Kevin Calabro (ESPN NBA broadcaster), Kevin Conlon (ESPN Stats & Information), Jay Corbin (ESPN The Magazine editor), Chad Ford (ESPN Insider senior writer), LZ Granderson (ESPN The Magazine senior writer), John Hollinger (ESPN Insider senior writer), Jade Hoye (ESPN Multimedia), Michael Jackson (ESPN Stats & Information), Scoop Jackson (ESPN Page 2 columnist), Avery Johnson (ESPN NBA analyst), Eric Karabell (ESPN.com senior writer), Rob King (ESPN.com editor in chief), Seth Landman (ESPN Fantasy basketball writer), Tim Legler (ESPN NBA analyst), Nancy Lieberman (ESPN NBA analyst), Keith Lipscomb (ESPN Fantasy basketball analyst), Patricia Lowry (ESPN NBA Event Production), Mike Lynch (ESPN Stats & Information), Eric Neel (ESPN.com senior writer), Pete Newmann (ESPN Stats & Information), Chris Palmer (ESPN The Magazine NBA writer), Greg Pike (ESPN NBA Studio Production), Chris Ramsay (ESPN.com NBA coordinator), Dr. Jack Ramsay (ESPN NBA analyst), Adam Reisinger (ESPNDB editor), Jalen Rose (ESPN NBA analyst), Bob Salmi (ESPN NBA analyst), Chris Sheridan (ESPN Insider senior writer), Marc Stein (ESPN.com NBA senior writer), Patrick Stiegman (ESPN.com VP/Executive editor), Otto Strong (ESPN The Magazine NBA editor), Mark Summer (ESPN NBA Studio Production), David Thorpe (ESPN Insider NBA analyst), Justin Verrier (ESPN.com NBA editor), Bill Walton (ESPN NBA analyst), Royce Webb (ESPN.com NBA editor), Josh Whitling (ESPN Fantasy basketball writer), Matt Winer (ESPN NBA anchor) and Matt Wong (ESPN.com NBA editor).