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Five NBA buyout candidates from past decade who prove small signings make big difference

In the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12, Fisher joined the Thunder after being waived by the Rockets, who acquired him at the trade deadline. Having won five NBA titles prior to signing with the Thunder, Fisher brought championship experience to a young Oklahoma City team featuring Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant.

Their teams rebound better when they are on the floor. That is, umm, not the case for Maker. The Bucks secure 78 percent of opponent misses when Maker is on the bench, but only 73.8 percent when he plays, per NBA.com. That is the difference between a top-10 defensive rebounding team and one that is even worse than the worst one in the league (Atlanta).

Maker’s biggest physical advantage — speed — doesn’t mean much when he has inside position, as centers typically do on defense; there is no one to scoot around. But he’s so skinny, with such unrefined rebounding instincts, that players of all sizes and speeds can scoot around him. Behemoths shove him out of the way.

The score was still tied at the end of those three minutes, but it served as a reminder of what Ball, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is capable of when he puts it all together. Ball had experienced more downs than ups in the 25 games leading up to the Lakers’ nationally televised game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, so much so that some were already wondering if he was a bust.

It all came together Saturday night when Ball posted a line of 18 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds while shooting 6-of-10 from the 3-point line in a 116-112 win over the Spurs. Ball hit half of his 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the game, pushing the Lakers to victory behind a 36-21 advantage in the fourth quarter.

He went from hitting the side of the backboard to he can’t miss now, Randle said after the game (via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk). [Ball is] just confident out there, making plays, making huge, huge shots down the stretch for us.

And it’s not all about Ball’s offense — last year’s No. 2 overall pick has been an active, pesky defender for much of the season. LA’s defensive rating jumps from 102.0 when Ball is on the floor to 108.1 when he is on the bench (roughly the difference between a top-five defense and a bottom-five mark), and the team’s defensive rebounding percentage drops nearly two percent when he sits. Ball causes problems with his long arms and active hands with 2.7 deflections per game, a number right behind Marcus Smart (2.8) and Draymond Green (2.9).

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