I was looking back at Paul Coro’s blog entry from a few weeks back on the results of NBA.com’s GM survey and was surprised to find that of 19 players receiving votes for most underrated player acquisition this offseason, none of them involved a Phoenix performer.
But an underrated deal by definition is one without much hype at the time, so if the GMs were to make this list at the end of the year you’ve got to think Matt Barnes’ one-year, veteran minimum deal would receive at least a few votes.
I thought the Suns needed to draft a Barnes-like swingman in the first round, which is why I favored Brandon Rush if he had been available, and for Barnes himself to be signed for no basically money is an amazing stroke of luck for Kerr and the Suns.
Watching the San Antonio playoff series with Grant Hill ailing, the Suns badly missed Shawn Marion’s ability to guard the opposition’s point guard, run the floor and hit an occasional 3.
Although Barnes is no Matrix, he fills many of the voids left by Marion’s trade to Miami, while lessening a burden on Hill.
The decision to play Barnes with the starters seems to be a sound one through three games, as he’s a perfect player to surround Nash with because of his floor-spacing shooting ability (with more range than Hill) and his proficiency at running the court.
On the flip side, it’s nice to have Hill playing with the second unit where he can initiate some of the offense and take playmaking pressure off Barbosa and Dragic.
The second unit hasn’t been great this year, but in theory being able to run the offense through Hill and Diaw with Barbosa doing what he does and maybe a starter mixed in should be a recipe for success with Nash and Shaq resting.
As for Barnes, his first quarter against the Blazers provided a perfect example of what he can do: 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, including a couple 3s, and three boards.
He’s already guarded Tony Parker and Chris Paul, assignments he said he also took on with Golden State, and did I mention he’s making the minimum?
Yeah, sounds like an underrated pickup to me.