NBA Free Agents 2012: 5 Best Players Still Available in Free Agency
Free agency has only been technically under way for a few days now, but it already seems like every impact player has found their home for the next few seasons. However, there are several extremely talented players have managed to slip through the cracks.
Though none of the players still available are stars in the league, they are all proven contributors who could be difference makers for a number of teams. From speedy guards to gritty big men, there is still plenty of talent available in the dwindling pool of available athletes.
If your favorite team hasn't made an impact in free agency, have no fear, these five players are still available. But be wary, once front offices realize that they are unsigned, they might not be out on the market for long...
5. Luis Scola
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 49.1 FG%
Freshly amnestied, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Luis Scola now enters the free agent fray as a talented, proven power forward with a knack for scoring the basketball.
Scola is by no means a star, but he is still a strong starting option thanks to his physical style of play and his surprising effectiveness. He is not a great athlete, but Scola is a crafty scorer with a nice set of post moves, an excellent scoop shot and the ability to hit mid-range jumpers if left open.
He is not the biggest player, but he uses his size well and is capable of carving out the position necessary to grab tough boards.
Scola is also a solid passer out of the post and does not allow the ball to stick in his hands for very long. He picks his spots, plays within his team's offense and is motivated primarily by group success.
At age 32, Scola will likely look to join a contender, but because of the amnesty waiver system, his services will be bid upon by teams under the salary cap. Plenty of teams could use a veteran big man such as him.
The Dallas Mavericks are one team interested in the Argentinean forward, according to ESPN Dallas. The team could use some frontcourt depth and has plenty of money to spend after striking out in the Deron Williams sweepstakes.
Scola won't be leading a team to a championship, but his team-first, efficient brand of basketball would be a welcome addition to any NBA city.
4. Kris Humphries
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 48.1 FG%
Despite being an unrestricted free agent, most headlines involving Kris Humphries have been concerned with his status as an ex-Kardashian and not his offseason suitors. However, Humphries has proven over the past two seasons in New Jersey that he is a very solid starting power forward and a gritty, physical player.
Humphries is the perfect hustle guy—he bangs in the paint for rebounds and putbacks and dives for loose balls—for a team seeking to win a title.
He is a little undersized at 6'9", but he is strong player and capable of absorbing contact on both ends of the court. His offensive game is not great, but Humphries has a few post moves and is able to knock down his foul shots consistently.
Humphries has stated that he wants a multi-year deal, and with the Nets having just signed Mirza Teletovic and lacking financial flexibility, it would be surprising to see him move to Brooklyn with the franchise.
He was reportedly going to be dealt to Cleveland in a massive, four-team trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Nets, but that deal appears completely dead at the moment.
Humphries is not a player that a team can build around, but as an athletic 4 with a nice blend of skills, he would be a welcome addition to most rosters.
3. O.J. Mayo
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 36.4 3P%
O.J. Mayo has undoubtedly worn out his welcome in Memphis as the team opted to not extend him a qualifying offer, but a number of teams could use a scoring 2-guard that can put the ball in the basket a myriad of ways.
Mayo gave the Grizzlies a dynamic scorer off the bench, once he finally embraced his sixth man role. He is a solid three-point shooter, but is great at breaking down opposing defenses off the dribble and getting to the rim. He can even run the team's offense for stretches.
Mayo is not overwhelmingly athletic, but he's not afraid draw fouls well and can move well without the basketball. He would be a great second or third scoring option for a team that needs a player capable of creating their own offense.
He is not excellent with one-on-one defense, but he bought into the Memphis system and proved to be capable of forcing turnovers and getting out on the break for easy scoring opportunities.
His field-goal percentage needs to improve (40.8 percent), but he is capable of carrying a team's offense when he gets hot.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports reports that Phoenix will look into Mayo if New Orleans matches their offer for Eric Gordon, which is very likely. Partnering with Goran Dragic in the backcourt would give the team a pair of dynamic guards capable of creating offense for themselves and their teammates.
Other potential teams are Indiana, Sacramento, Dallas and Utah, according to ESPN's Ric Bucher.
Mayo is still young and capable of being an above-average starting 2 for years to come. Every team in need of backcourt depth should be making calls about the USC product.
2. JaVale McGee (RFA)
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 11.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks
Before being traded to the Denver Nuggets, JaVale McGee was considered little more than an uber-athletic center with a shockingly low basketball IQ. However, a change of scenery revitalized him, and he finally appeared to be living up to his potential.
McGee has the potential to be an elite defender in this league. He averaged 3.3 blocks and 9.6 rebounds per game in the playoffs. His leaping ability and length allow him to swat shots, and he is quick enough to cover ground as a help defender.
Offensively, he is still a work in progress, but he did make noticeable improvements last season. In addition to power dunks, he now has a decent hook shot and is capable of scoring with his back to the basket. He is also a high flier and can make dynamic plays above the rim.
He is the perfect center for a young, athletic team like the Nuggets, who thrive when playing uptempo basketball.
The free-agency front has been extremely quiet for McGee, who has yet to receive any formal offers. The Denver Post reports that the Blazers may be interested in the center, since they failed to sign Roy Hibbert from Indiana.
The seven-footer will undoubtedly receive a hefty pay increase coming off of his rookie deal, but he has the talent and potential to live up to it as long as he continues to mature. There are a number of teams looking for size, and McGee has the makings of an elite center in the league.
1. Raymond Felton
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 11.4 points, 6.5 assists, 1.3 steals
Raymond Felton did not have a great season as Portland's starting point guard, but fans are quick to forget how well he played in New York in the 2010-2011 season. He was out of shape for most of last season, but with a proper offseason under his belt, Felton should be back to the player he once was.
Felton is lightning quick on the court and is great at getting into the paint and attacking the rim. His outside shot did not fall last season (30.5 percent from deep), but Felton is capable of knocking down threes in bunches and stretching the floor with his shooting.
On top of his scoring prowess, Felton runs an extremely effective pick-and-roll and is great with the ball in his hands. He excels at playing in transition and finding open teammates but is also capable of facilitating in half-court sets. He does not let the ball stick in his hands and instead works to make his teammates better.
Defensively, his doggedness and physical play make him a one-on-one nightmare. He can pressure opposing point guards all over the court and is good at forcing turnovers and creating fast break opportunities.
He proved in Denver that he is capable of playing off the ball and would make a great backcourt piece for almost any team in the league.
Felton wanted to return to New York, according to New York Post's Marc Berman, but with the team signing Jason Kidd and keeping Jeremy Lin, that is very unlikely at this point.
Felton is not far removed from averaging a 17 and nine and playing like an All-Star point guard. A slew of teams could do a whole lot worse than having that in their guard rotation.