Life After the Stars: 2016 NBA Free Agency

If you’re anything like myself, free agency is one of the best times of the year. Teams hire the best advertising firms and billionaire owners humble themselves to have a chance at signing a guy that can elevate their teams fortunes.Competition is firece for the top talent in the league, and not everyone is playing on an even playing field.

This year’s cream of the crop will include future hall of famer Kevin Durant, Mike Conley, and Al Horford. The next tier of guys is lead by Nic Batum, Dwight Howard, DeMar Derozen, Hassan Whiteside, and Joakim Noah. There’s also a talented list of restricted free agencts such as Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal,  and Jordan Clarkson (Arenas Provision). And to top of it all off, we have some of the older guys such as Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwayne Wade, and Lebron James who will most likley be returning to their former teams. With the cap rising, teams will be in a position where the money just outweighs the amount of (good) players. After the top half of free agents are gone, there’s still going to be a lot of teams that need to give out contracts just to avoid the floor. In the potential aftermath of your favorite team not signing one of the above players, i’ve created a list of my favorite non-star players avaliable. Needs, fits, etc. will need to be considered so this isn’t a ranking, just a group of guys that will never make an all-star team, but you’ll defend till the end on twitter.

1. Kent Bazemore- Atlanta Hawks 

The undrafted wing has made quite a name for himself as an effective “3 and D” player. Though Bazemore is a career 35.1% three point shooter, he’s still quite inconsistent and shot a troubling 26.2% from three in the playoffs. Despite his reputation as a two-way player, the Hawks were 19.2 points better during the playoffs when he was off the floor according to Basketball-reference. With that being said, if a team brings him in as a defender who guards 1-3, and limits his usuage to simply shooting spot-ups and attacking closeouts, they’d be getting a quality player.

2. J.R Smith- Cleveland Cavaliers

No one seems to be talking much about this, but Smith is a free agent this year, and after his playoff performance will probably look to cash out. In the postseason,  Smith shot a blistering 43% from three on 7.2 attempts and had a net rating of 11.5. When he’s engaged, and in a good situation, he can be a highly productive two-way player. However, fit does matter here, if put on a bad team you could see some of the old habits of Smith come back to fruition. In a situation with a strong foundation, you could be getting solid value for one of the best shooters in the league.

3. Chandler Parsons- Dallas Mavericks 

Parsons is an interesting case. He’s shown that he can be a 3rd or 4th option as a point forward who can shoot and intiate the offense at times. He also never played an entire season during his time with the Mavericks, and wasn’t exactly liberal with sharing his medical information last summer. Any team that takes him will be taking a calculated risk that he’ll be healthy despite never showing great health for most of his career. On the court, Parsons is 41.4% from three, and scored a ridiculous 71.3% at the rim. Defense wise, despite being 6’9 his slender frame doesn’t allow him to stick frontcourt players with success, but he can be useful against smaller and agile players, similar to Kent Bazemore. He can shoot, pass, intiate, and defend at times, which in this market will be enough to net a few interested pursers.

4. Solomon Hill- Indiana Pacers 

His counting stats don’t scream someone you should invest much time in (4.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.0apg), but Hill showed that he could be an effective rotation wing in the postseason. Despite rarley getting any playtime during the season, the Pacers were 8.9 points better when he was on the floor during the playoffs, and he showed off a ridiculous shooting display– hitting 57.9% from three on 5.2 attempts. Hill has never been considered a lockdown defender by any means, but in a more consistent situation where he’ll have guranteed minutes, there might be potential to unlock on that end. Regardless, his age, position, and under the radar profile make him great value for a team that doesn’t want to break the bank this year.

5. Brandon Bass- Los Angeles Lakers

The best thing about Brandon Bass is you know exactly what you’re going to get from him every single night. He’s a pick and pop big who’s good from 15ft and under, and has the body to finish through contact. He won’t protect the paint, and he’s an average post defender, but he has the lateral quickness to defend stretch bigs and bigger wings on the perimeter. His lack for shooting 3’s and tunnel vision whenever he gets the ball will eliminate him from most teams radars. But as a 4th big who you can plug in at certain spots, he could be great value.

6. Luol Deng- Miami Heat

The main concerns with Deng are age, and his body. At 31, his body is a little more wore and tore than most due to the Thib days in Chicago. Last posteason, he showed teams that he can still defend and shoot at a high level, but the small sample size shoulndn’t make teams overreact. He’s never been a great three point shooter his entire career (33.4%), and last year actually started to look a like a guy who was falling off defensivley before his playoff surge. Any team that brings signs him will need to understand that he’s a veteran wing with an average jumper, and doesn’t defend like he used to. If you can live with that, then he’s another potential good contract for cheap.

7. Jared Dudley- Washington Wizards

Dudley is a lethal shooter from deep, can switch between 3-5 defensivley, and has a charismatic attitude that can help bond a team together. What he brings in terms of spacing, and leadership will have multiple buyers on the market, meaning he could get expensive. But, if you’re a young playoff team, the leadership and consistency he brings are worth the investment.

8. Rajon Rondo- Sacramento Kings 

Surprise, surpsrise. Rondo’s been mostly out of the public eye since his situation with Bill Kennedy, but he did show some things last year. For one, he shot 36.5% from three on 2.4 attempts. He also posted his second highest assit rate at 11.9apg, and seemed to have some of that spring in his step that he was missing since his ACL tear. Because he plays one of the more loaded positions in the NBA, most teams don’t really have a use for him. But if you’re a rebuilding team that just needs a guy to hold it down so you look presentable (i.e Brooklyn), he’s a nice fit.

9. Allen Crabbe- Portland Trailblazers

Crabbe showed he can do the most important thing in the modern NBA, shoot. Crabbe made 39.3% of his threes on 4.9 attempts, but showed that he still had a long way to go in terms of defending. At 24, he’s young enough to take a chance on as a potential “3 and D” guy.

10. Jon Leuer- Phoneix Suns 

Leur is an interesting case study. One one end, his numbers suggest a guy that with higher usuage could be really good. He shoot the three at 38.2% on only 1.6 attempts. He’s shown promise as a pick and pop guy, can score and defend in the post, and knows how to run the floor. Also, at 6’10 he’s actually a center that can hit his free throws with a career average of 71.8%. Leuer is also a strong rebounder who posts an impressive 16.1% rebound percentage, including a 25.9% defensive rebounding percentage. Yet for whatever reason, he was buried on the Suns bench behind Tyson Chandler. Leuer is still only 27, and though he may not be able to guard the perimeter or be a shot-blocker, he’s a very solid option as a 3rd big off the bench.

Honorable Mentions 

E’Twaun Moore, Alonzo Gee, Ish Smith, Kevin Martin, Marcus Thornton , Jared Sullinger 

 

 

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