NBA Free Agents 2012: Under-the-Radar Gems Sure to Find Success with New Club
Through the NBA free agency period, it's no surprise that players such as Ray Allen and Steve Nash have received the majority of attention. As veteran elites compared to most, players like Landry Fields go rather unnoticed.
Although Fields is a only 24 years old, he still went overlooked as a role player for the Knicks in 2011-12. To that end, let's take a look at Fields along with some other gems who are under the radar despite a new uniform.
Nicolas Batum: G/F, Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves have added some solid talent in Nicolas Batum. According to the Associated Press via ESPN:
Restricted free agent Nicolas Batum has agreed to terms on an offer sheet with the Timberwolves and is hoping the Portland Trail Blazers either do not match the offer or execute a sign-and-trade to get him to Minnesota, Batum's agent told The Associated Press on Thursday night.
Batum brings a nice overall skill set to Minnesota in averaging 13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and shooting 45.1 percent from the field. The Timberwolves ranked No. 10 in offense last season, but were also No. 24 in assists and No. 25 in points allowed per game.
Batum's presence would simply improve the offensive depth and rotation, while also creating more ball movement. This in turn leads to more efficient possessions and the defense automatically improves. Having improved with each pro season, Batum can be a consistent starter or role player that provides 30-plus minutes off the bench.
His versatility bodes well for Minnesota, because the Timberwolves need talented depth and proven reliability to become a contender in the Northwest Division.
Goran Dragic: PG, Suns
Although Goran Dragic spent his first 2.5 NBA season in Phoenix, the Suns have a different look now. According to Marc Stein of ESPN:
Sources told ESPN.com that the Suns have reached a verbal agreement on a four-year deal worth an estimated $34 million that Dragic has pledged to sign July 11, which is the first day contracts can be signed.
In addition to Dragic, the Suns also bring in shooting guard Eric Gordon according to ESPN's Chris Broussard. For the first few years of his career, Dragic was the backup to Steve Nash and it wasn't until the 2011-12 season where his daily opportunity came.
Last year in Houston, Dragic started 28 of 66 games played and averaged 11.7 points with 5.3 assists. As the main point man in Phoenix now, Dragic will see excellent success with Gordon complementing him in the backcourt.
Gordon had three impressive seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers before getting injured last season in New Orleans. During the 2010-11 season, Gordon averaged 22.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. Provided that he gets back to that form this season, Dragic and Gordon will be a tough duo to shut down in Phoenix.
Landry Fields: SG, Raptors
It was ridiculously easy to overlook the contributions of Landry Fields in New York. After all, the Knicks have two superstars in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, not to mention the Linsanity caused by Jeremy Lin.
Now, though, Fields is better positioned to be a more consistent contributor. According to ESPN's Marc Stein:
The Toronto Raptors have reached a verbal agreement with New York Knicks restricted free agent Landry Fields on an offer sheet, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
As a rookie, Fields averaged 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. His production decreased during the 2011-12 season, however, and Fields' role was reduced despite starting in 62 of 66 games.
Fortunately for his sake, the Raptors desperately need to improve the offense as they ranked No. 28 in points per game last year. Additionally, Toronto was No. 17 in rebounding and finished just one game ahead of New Jersey in the Atlantic Division.
Fields has the capability to be an every day starter, but at the very least he can be a solid role player behind DeMar DeRozan. Logging 31 minutes per contest as a rookie and almost 29 per game last season, Fields has gained quick experience to produce in the NBA.
The Raptors needs a lot of help as well, so anticipate Fields developing even more in Toronto as he undertakes a more significant role.
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