NBA Free Agency 2012: 5 Free Agents Who Will Break Out in 2012-2013
The 2012 NBA free-agent class is one of the deepest groups of players in recent memory and has already provided an exciting start to the offseason.
While superstars Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett highlight the top of the list, there are several free agents flying under the radar who could be poised for big seasons next year.
Whether these players switch teams this offseason or remain with their current clubs, you can bet they will be looking to justify the new contracts they receive.
Here, we take a look at five current free agents who are ready for breakout seasons in 2012-2013.
C Omer Asik, Restricted Free Agent
ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported on July 1 that the Houston Rockets and center Omer Asik have agreed to three-year, $25.1 million deal.
While Asik is a restricted free agent, Chicago will have a hard time matching the Rockets' offer, as they are dangerously close to the luxury tax.
26-year-old Asik averaged 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game playing behind Joakim Noah in 2011-2012, and those numbers could explode with increased playing time.
Asik is already one of the best defensive big men in the NBA and his developing offensive game could see a huge improvement next year.
Which Player Will Have The Biggest Year In 2012-2013?
Omer Asik will finally get his chance to be the No. 1 center in Houston, and we could see a breakout performance from him in 2012-2013.
Courtney Lee, Unrestricted Free Agent
On July 3, the Houston Rockets withdrew their qualifying offer to swingman Courtney Lee, making him an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The 26-year-old Lee has been flying under the radar for years now, and a move to a contending team could put him in position for a breakout year.
An excellent athlete who plays great defense to go along with his shooting ability, Lee is a well-rounded player in the mold of Joe Johnson.
With that being said, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Hawks are supposedly interested in Lee with the intention of replacing the recently traded Johnson.
With a playoff team like Atlanta, Courtney Lee could be poised for a big year in 2012-2013.
Jerryd Bayless, Unrestricted Free Agent
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Toronto Raptors withdrew their qualifying offer to Jerryd Bayless, effectively making the 23-year-old an unrestricted free agent.
In just 22.7 minutes for the Raptors last season Bayless averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting an outstanding 42.3 percent from behind the arc.
A high-energy point guard, Bayless has the ability to be both a talented scoring guard and an effective distributor for whatever team signs him.
With Jose Calderon and now Kyle Lowry at the point guard position in Toronto, it appears Bayless will get an opportunity to start somewhere else.
The Houston Rockets, Lowry's former team, are looking for a new point guard, and Bayless could team up with Omer Asik to give the Rockets two breakout players in 2012-2013.
J.J. Hickson, Unrestricted Free Agent
Teams have been waiting for former first-round pick J.J. Hickson to breakout for years, and we got a glimpse of what he could be last year.
In 19 games for the Portland Trail Blazers, Hickson averaged 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds a game and was one of the better forwards in the second half.
The Blazers couldn't afford to give Hickson a qualifying offer, and he should have plenty of suitors as an unrestricted free agent.
According to Alex Kennedy of Hoops World, the Golden State Warriors are the front-runners to sign Hickson.
If J.J. Hickson can build off the success he had in the short stint last year with Portland, he could live up to the expectations that were placed on him as a first-round pick in 2008.
Ersan Ilyasova, Unrestricted Free Agent
A 6'10" power forward, Ersan Ilyasova already had his breakout season last year for the Milwaukee Bucks.
After averaging 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last year, it appeared that the Brooklyn Nets were the front-runners for Ilyasova this offseason.
The Nets have been very active this offseason, but they might not be able to contend with the five-year, $40 million deal the Bucks offered Ilyasova, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Ilyasova has earned comparisons to Kevin Love with his big frame and perimeter shooting skills, and could turn into a superstar, especially if a move to Brooklyn comes to fruition.
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