If you’re going to win in the NBA, your squad is going to need some veterans who can help make a difference.
Whether it’s through locker room presence and leadership throughout the grueling regular season or if it’s through wisdom and experience come playoff time, teams need veterans to make sure the ship stays afloat in the most trying times.
Training camp is getting started across the league and the regular season is right around the corner, but there are a handful of vets who still need homes.
From backup center to end of rotation wing player, there are a lot of roles vets have traditionally filled for championship teams.
We’re going to ignore the biggest elephant in the room for the sake of this list, but there is a certain stretch four with 10 All-Star appearances who is top 20 all-time in scoring who probably deserves one more shot, even if it’s sitting on the end of the bench.
But here are five other veterans who should end up on a roster before the season comes to an end.
When you drop 51 points in your most recent game, somebody should call you to at least kick the tires.
Jamal Crawford is certainly long in the tooth, but he’s gone almost his entire career staying healthy throughout the season and showing an ability to get a bucket whenever he feels.
Maybe nobody wants him in the rotation at the point he’s not the perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate that he used to be and his defense isn’t the best. But he’s been around the way and is still shooting at a similar level to what he did for most of his career. No, he’s not the most efficient player, but he is the type of guy who can go get a bucket when you need it, and there is always room for a player like that in the league. It’s a big reason why Joe Johnson is getting a shot with the Pistons after a year out of the league.
At the very least, he can be great for making guys work on on-ball defense in practice.
At the end of every season, there’s always at least two teams that need another big man right before the playoff push. Joakim Noah can be that big man.
After that awkward end to his time in New York and the injuries that plagued him prior to that when he was on his way out of Chicago, there is reason for hesitating to scoop up the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year.
But with how well he played for half the season in Memphis last campaign, somebody should at least give him a ring before the postseason starts if not sooner.
He’s still liable to agitate the league’s best scorers through his verbal tactics and ability to control a defense from the middle. Ask Devin Booker.
He might not have too many minutes in him on a nightly basis, but how long does any team want to leave it’s backup center on the court. And if he is forced into minutes, he’s going to defend and pass well if nothing else. And who doesn’t like a big man who will protect the rim and share the ball?
Shump got a lot of minutes with the Kings last season and seemed to play at least a small role in Sacramento’s great season. He just turned 29 even though it seems like he’s older considering how long he’s been around. The injuries definitely don’t help things, but he showed last season that he could give you at least 60 games, and he started in most of those.
In a bench role, Shumpert can give slightly fewer minutes than he did a year ago and be a serviceable wing player for defensive purposes. His three-point numbers with the Rockets at the close of the season weren’t too encouraging, but he shot nearly 37% from behind the arc with the Kings for half the season.
At minimum, Shumpert can be a locker room presence who can help explain to a team what it takes to win a title from the start of the year to the finish.
If Devin Harris is going to stay around, he’s likely going to have to sign a contract with somebody other than the Mavericks.
If a team picks up Harris for his 16th season, they will get a guy who can play backup minutes and keep the offense flowing enough while the starting point guard gets a breather. God forbid a team loses one of its rotational guards to injury, Harris can step in for a short period to take on a larger role.
He isn’t going to change the world in any way and might end up being on the wrong end of some highlights from some of the younger more elite players at his position, but his experience will go a long way and allow him to get the best of some matchup when the opposition isn’t ready. He’ll still go for a solid 10-15 points on a good night and that’s a lot to get from a guy who will likely end up third on the depth chart. But for those three weeks where he needs to be No. 2, anybody would be thankful to have him versus some of the alternatives who would be likely to be at the end of the bench waiting for that same chance.
When J.R. split from the Cavaliers last season, it made it easy to forget he was still in the league and still has something to provide a team.
He served as LeBron’s main three-and-D guy and that’s a role he can take on again with slightly less responsibility. As the seventh man on a roster, the Henny Gawd could come in for a strong 20 or so minutes to provide some solid wing defense and possibly get hot from three.
He doesn’t need to be one of the top bench players in the league in order to provide help, he just can’t be asked to do too much. And now is the perfect time for somebody to commit to JR. They don’t need him to be a starter or even the best player on the bench. You just need J.R. to be J.R. and as proof of 2016, that can help a team win a title.
Besides, it’s not like he’s not going to forget the score every game.