NBA Free Agency 2012: 7 Most Underrated Players Still Left on the Market
Although most of the big-name NBA free agents have already been swooped on and signed, there are still some underrated players left on the market that could be valuable commodities on a roster.
The second week of NBA free agency is when general managers can find the bargain players—guys who are either veterans with not many years left in the league or young players who have not reached their full potential yet.
One of these players always seems to make a difference come NBA playoff time. Take a look at Shane Battier for the Miami Heat this past season. Battier is past his prime but was valuable in the postseason because of his leadership and big-game experience.
Here is a list of the seven most underrated guys still left on the market.
Michael Redd may no longer be an All-Star-quality player, but on a team where he doesn't have to do much, he could be a sneaky good addition.
Redd played for the Phoenix Suns last year, averaging a pedestrian 8.2 points per game on 40 percent shooting. He struggles to get his shot off on his own but did a decent job at getting to the free-throw line last season.
Redd's history of injuries is a white flag, but if a contender can sign him to a one-year contract, bringing him in wouldn't be much of a risk. Redd can still knock down open jump shots.
His effective field-goal percentage in 2011-12 was 41 percent.
Redd ended the 2011-12 season strong, averaging 11.4 points per game in the month of April. He's a good person to have in the locker room and could surprise teams as an off-the-bench spark.
One of the most underrated free agents that not many people know about is Donte Greene.
Greene has played for the Sacramento Kings since his rookie season in 2008-09. His stats aren't great, but the athleticism and the heart are there. In a good situation, Greene could develop into a big-time player. He has rare athletic abilities for his size, 6'11", and is a great teammate.
One of the reasons Greene has not reached his potential is because of his situation.
Sacramento is not the best place to be for young players. With the constant shuffling of coaches and players, Greene has never been able to develop correctly. On a team with strong management like the San Antonio Spurs or Boston Celtics, Greene could be a steal for very cheap.
Just because you've never heard of him doesn't mean Greene can't play. He has NBA talent. Now Greene just needs to find the right team that will maximize his potential.
Teams looking for a reliable backup power forward, look no further than Carl Landry.
Following the 2009-10 season, Landry appeared to be one of the better young forwards in the NBA. Unfortunately, Landry has never been able to consistently show on the court that he's anything more than a backup.
With the New Orleans Hornets signing sharpshooting forward Ryan Anderson, Landry will be wearing a new uniform next season. The Golden State Warriors are interested (per The Times-Picayune). Other teams should be interested as well.
Landry is probably too pricey for a team like the Chicago Bulls or Los Angeles Lakers. Unless Landry wants to play for doormats for the rest of his career, he needs to take less and prove his worth on a contender.
As they always say, there's no such thing as a role player on a bad team. On a team like the Warriors, who are most likely still a few years away, Landry will look like a mere pedestrian. He's not a great rebounder and shoots a lot of jump shots for a power forward. But in the right situation, Landry would be a perfect piece in the puzzle. On a bad team, though, Landry's talents could be squandered.
What people forget about Courtney Lee when they discuss him as a free agent is his age. Lee is 26 years old with only four years of NBA experience.
ESPN reports say Lee could be on his way to the Boston Celtics, where he would attempt to replace Ray Allen. Lee shot 40 percent from behind the arc a season ago, and that was for the Houston Rockets, who didn't have any players that demanded extra attention. He can create his own shot and would be a great addition to any team looking for a spark off the bench.
On the Celtics, Lee would back up All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. Coming off the bench with Jason Terry could give opposing teams fits and would give the Celtics the deepest backcourt in the NBA. Lee would also bring youth to a team that is largely made up of older veterans.
Last season, Lee improved every month. On a team with veteran leadership, his game will only continue to improve.
The 2010-11 Raymond Felton on the New York Knicks seems to be a mirage.
Under the Mike D'Antoni offense, Felton averaged 17.1 points and nine assists per game. For the Portland Trail Blazers last year, Felton averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 assists per game.
Felton also started the season out of shape.
As long as teams aren't expecting the world from Felton, he could be a good addition as a backup point guard. Last season, Felton showed he is no longer a starter, so he shouldn't expect to get starter minutes anywhere except from a bad team.
With Jason Kidd signing with the Knicks, a return to New York is out of the books. It's surprising he hasn't been signed yet because Felton does have talent. The question is, does he want to put in the work in order to get himself in shape and improve his game? That remains to be seen.
Former NBA All-Star Antawn Jamison is on the open market.
Jamison is getting up there in age at 36, but he's still a consistent scorer with height. As a power forward, teams can't go wrong with bringing Jamison off the bench. Veterans who have been there before and can still compete at a high level are valuable, especially in the post, where finding big men who aren't stiffs can be a challenge.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles reports that the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in signing Jamison (h/t Examiner.com). Unlike the Jermaine O'Neal rumors (also reported by McMenamin), Jamison would actually be a good addition because he still has something left in the tank.
No, he's not going to average 17 points per game like he did last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Jamison could definitely give the Lakers at least 10 per game off the bench.
Jamison would be a great signing for any contending team. Since he probably doesn't have many years left in the league, expect him to wind up somewhere he can compete for a championship. The Lakers are the team in the news at the moment, but the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder should take a look at Jamison as well.
If teams are looking for a veteran wing who can give them a strong 20 minutes off the bench, then there's no better option than Grant Hill.
Hill has been teetering between retirement or continuing his playing career. A recent report from Arizona Sports 620's John Gambadoro says Hill is leaning towards joining the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would join his former Phoenix Suns teammate Steve Nash.
David Aldridge has reported the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are options as well.
Hill is mainly a spot-up shooter at this point in his career—76 percent of his shots in 2011-12 were jump shots. Considering how heavily Hill depends on jumpers to score his points, his 44.6 percent average from the field is quite impressive.
Hill has slid into life as a role player quite well. He would fit perfectly with a team like the Lakers. Last season, the Lakers were one of the worst shooting teams in the league. Hill will get plenty of open shots because of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
Hopefully Hill doesn't choose retirement. If healthy, he will be a valuable role player and a contender.