NBA Free Agency 2012: 5 Underrated Players Who Will Have Big Impact in 2012
The 2012 NBA Free Agent class is a very deep group of players headlined by superstars like point guards Deron Williams and Steve Nash and Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.
While there will be many teams fighting for the services of these established veterans, there are several free agents flying under the radar who could make a big impact in 2012.
We have seen 2011 free agent signing Shane Battier light it up from three-point range and play outstanding defense in helping the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals.
Here we take a look at five underrated free agents who could make a big impact on new teams for the 2012-2013 season.
PG Shannon Brown, Phoenix Suns
The high-flying Shannon Brown signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Suns, hoping that he would earn a bigger deal with improved playing time.
He didn't get as much time on the court as he had hoped, but Brown did put in 11 points a game behind Steve Nash and played significantly better after the All-Star break.
Brown spent the previous two seasons before Phoenix providing the Lakers with a valuable bench option who could shoot the outside ball and run the fast break.
Ramon Sessions is expected to become a free agent this offseason, and there is no guarantee that he will be back for Los Angeles in 2012.
The aging Lakers will need to find depth at the guard spot and Brown has had success playing with Kobe Bryant in the past. The athleticism and scoring ability he could bring off the bench would be a valuable piece for coach Mike Brown as the Lakers try to get back to the playoffs next season.
New Team: Los Angeles Lakers
SG Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
While Tim Duncan is the big free agent in San Antonio, Danny Green could very well have played his last game as a Spur after starting 38 games this past year.
The 24-year-old enjoyed a breakout year under Gregg Popovich after getting cut from the Cavaliers after the 2009 season. Green shot 43.6 percent from beyond-the-arc and coupled that with good defense on the perimeter for a Spurs team that nearly made it to the NBA Finals.
According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, the Celtics are interested in Green as a possible replacement for Ray Allen.
The Celtics are virtually the Eastern Conference equivalent of the Spurs, and Green would thrive under Doc Rivers in the same way he did under Popovich in 2011-2012.
While the Spurs can match any offer for the restricted free agent, expect the Celtics to make a hard push to acquire Danny Green in an effort to replace Ray Allen this offseason.
New Team: Boston Celtics
PF JJ Hickson, Portland Trail Blazers
Since his days with the Cavaliers, JJ Hickson has always shown the potential to be one of the better power forwards in the NBA.
However only when he was claimed off waivers by the Portland Trail Blazers did he start to realize that potential and turn it into success on the court. In 19 games with Portland, Hickson averaged 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and he also averaged over 31 minutes of playing time.
While Hickson has said he would like to remain with Portland, the Trail Blazers also have Nicolas Batum to resign and Hickson could be the odd man out (via HoopsRumors).
There are several teams, however, who could use an explosive power forward like Hickson, and the Boston Celtics are one of them.
It seems more and more unlikely that Kevin Garnett will be in a Celtic uniform next season and Hickson could really benefit from playing alongside Rajon Rondo.
New Team: Boston Celtics
C Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers
At just 24 years of age, Spencer Hawes doesn't quite get the attention he deserves as one of the better young centers in the NBA.
What he may lack in toughness, Hawes makes up for in his well-rounded game with an excellent shooting touch and impressive ball-handling skills for a 7'1" big man.
While he struggled a little after getting after a fast start, Hawes played well in the playoffs after averaging 9.6 points and 7.3 rebounds during the regular season.
Hawes is an unrestricted free agent and the Sixers might have to spend too much money to keep other players like Lou Williams and Elton Brand.
The Dallas Mavericks could be a nice fit for Hawes, as he could team up with Dirk Nowitzki to form a nightmare duo for opposing big men.
Having two big men with effective jump shots would open up the paint area tremendously for the guards to wreak havoc.
New Team: Dallas Mavericks
PF Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks
The 25-year-old Ersan Ilyasova enjoyed a huge year for Milwaukee, averaging 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
What makes the 6'10" big man stand out is his phenomenal outside shooting ability—he made 45.5 percent of his three-pointers last season.
Ilyasova is an unrestricted free agent with a ton of potential, so he is going to garner interest from several teams this offseason.
According to HoopsRumors.com the Brooklyn Nets are the "frontrunners" to sign Ilyasova and he would be a perfect fit for the new look team.
With Kris Humphries possibly on the move, getting the more versatile Ilyasova would be a huge pickup for GM Billy King and would be a step in the right direction towards convincing Deron Williams to stay with the team.
New Team: Brooklyn Nets