The Whiteboard: 3 NBA role players thriving on new teams

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Stars like Donovan Mitchell and Dejounte Murray aren’t the only NBA players who changed teams this offseason and are thriving in new places.

Many of the biggest names to change teams this offseason have been thriving in their new homes. Dejounte Murray is averaging 22.0 points and 7.8 assists and has helped shore up the perimeter defense for the 5-3 Hawks. Donovan Mitchell is playing like an MVP for the Cavaliers and Lauri Markkanen has carried the Jazz to a 6-3 record.

But while those stars are capturing plenty of attention plenty of roles players who changed teams this offseason are also making a huge difference in their new homes.

Here are 3 NBA role players who have been better than advertised for new teams

Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics

Brogdon was an obvious candidate to make a huge impact for his new team — something we discussed more than once before the season began — and things have worked out pretty much as expected. He’s averaging 13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in just over 23.1 minutes per game and shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.

He’s played more than half his minutes this season with one, but not both, of Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum and the Celtics have outscored opponents by 16.8 points per 100 possessions in those minutes. Brogdon’s ability to help stabilize those minutes when one of the other primary creators has been a huge boon for Boston so far this season and well be especially important in the playoffs.

Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings

Huerter has taken over as the starting shooting guard, averaging 18.9 points and 3.9 assists per game, on a 69.2 true shooting percentage. Huerter has been marvelous working off the ball, a perfect complement to the actions run around Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox while running off screens and seeking out soft spots in the defense in the middle of the floor as well as beyond the arc. He ranks in the 93rd percentile in scoring efficiency on dribble hand-offs and the 88th on spot-ups.

His jumper has been phenomenal (51.8 percent on 3-pointers so far) but he makes himself available in so many ways inside and outside the arc, attacking off the dribble when the defense is already bent or exposed.

Huerter just understands how to find his spots, opportunistically manipulating space. His constant movement adds a whole new element to the Kings’ offense and makes things easier for Sabonis, Fox, rookie Keegan Murray and others.

De’Anthony Melton, Philadelphia 76ers

Melton came to the 76ers in a trade, with Danny Green going to the Memphis Grizzlies. With Tyrese Maxey and James Harden entrenched in the starting lineup, Melton’s job was to work as the third guard, complementing both players with some playmaking, complementary scoring and a high level of defensive activity.

Melton’s box score stats are fairly modest — 9.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists in just over 22 minutes per game. But he’s shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc, adding 2.0 steals per game and ranked third among regular rotation players in deflections per 36 minutes at 6.6.

The 76ers’ live-ball turnover percentage and pace are much higher with Melton on the floor and his ability to materialize fastbreak opportunities out of thin air has been extremely beneficial to a 76ers’ team that otherwise plays at one of the slowest paces in the league.

The 76ers have gotten off to a slower start than they hoped but there is no reason to think they won’t still be in the playoff picture and what Melton is adding could be even more helpful in the postseason.

— Ian Levy

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— Josh Wilson

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