It’s been just less than one month since the hectic NBA trade deadline. Though big names such as Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol and Rajon Rondo were not traded, players traded in the deadline have made a drastic affect on their new teams.
The Brooklyn Nets’ addition of Marcus Thornton has led to more bench scoring and instant offense to the previously lethargic Nets second unit. Spencer Hawes has helped to improve the Cavs offensive efficiency and is instrumental in their recent success. Second year wing player Jordan Hamilton has provided the Houston Rockets with more consistent bench production. And Evan Turner has played well for the Eastern Conference juggernaut Indiana Pacers since his arrival in Nap Town.
But the overall winners of the trade deadline were the Golden State Warriors for their addition of Steve Blake.
Since Blake’s arrival on Feb. 19, the Warriors are playing some of their best basketball of the season. They are 9-3 with wins against the Pacers, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks among others. As a team, the Warriors turnover numbers are down from 15.9 per game to 13.3 per game. Blake has been instrumental in that decrease.
Blake has taken pressure off of both Stephen Curry and Jordan Crawford. Curry has seen a decrease in his minutes since Blake’s arrival and has also been asked to handle the ball less. Jordan Crawford showed in the month plus he was on the Warriors (before Blake) that he is not a true backup point guard but rather a shooting guard who can occasionally run an NBA offense. Now with Blake, Crawford has played his best basketball since arriving in the Bay Area as he’s only being asked to score and not set up his teammates.
Before Blake’s arrival, the Warriors bench was the team’s Achilles heal. They were the worst bench in the league and struggled scoring and holding onto the ball. But in the Warriors’ last 10 games, the bench is scoring more than 40 points per game coupled with more than nine assists per game. The bench’s increase in scoring just over the course of 12 games has led to the Warriors bench scoring ranking jump from 30th to 24th in the league.
On the contrary, the Pacers bench has not improved as much as many thought since the arrival of Evan Turner from Philadelphia. Turner was the beneficiary of an otherwise minor league 76ers roster. Before the 76ers traded Turner, the Sixers were averaging slightly more than 100 points per game. Turner scored 17.4 of them and took a team high 15.4 shots. Not surprisingly since joining the Pacers, Turner’s scoring numbers are down and he is taking only eight shots per game.
The arrival of Turner has also cut into Lance Stephenson’s role with the Pacers. Before Turner’s arrival, Pacers coach Frank Vogel would use Stephenson as the primary ball-handler for the beginning of the second quarter. It was Stephenson’s time to chuck up jumper after jumper, but since Turner’s arrival, Stephenson’s numbers in the second quarter are down and his shot totals as a whole are lightly lower. The Pacers are also only 5-4 with Turner in uniform and are 1-4 in their last five games compared to the Warriors who have re-emerged as a potential Western Conference contender.
Not all the Warriors recent improvements are a result of Steve Blake’s arrival, but Blake has been instrumental in the Dubs’ recent success and his arrival in the Bay Area looks to be the best trade of the 2014 NBA trade deadline.