NBA Free Agents 2012: Available Youngsters with Huge Upside
Despite the big early rush to sign free agents, there are still some talented youngsters available with big-time potential.
For the most part, these guys have yet to live up to that potential, and there is a good chance they never will. However, there have been plenty of players who were late bloomers. It can be a case of them simply figuring out the NBA game or getting in the right system to utilize their skills.
Here are three players that have that potential. Two of them are restricted free agents, which means their previous team will have a chance to retain their rights by matching any offer they receive. This makes signing them a tough proposition, but if the team is sold on their potential, they can make an offer the former team is not prepared to match.
O.J. Mayo, G, UFA
Mayo has had an odd career. He looked like a superstar in the making during his first two seasons—averaging at least 17.5 points per game.
Then his effectiveness and production fell off. He has averaged 11.3 and 12.6 points per game the last two seasons while spending most of that time coming off the bench for the Grizzlies, and he found himself perpetually on the trading block.
Mayo is a streaky player, but he is a natural scorer with a decent jumper and a solid ability to create his own shot.
If Mayo can put it all together, he is a legitimate 20-points-a-game scorer.
JaVale McGee, C, RFA, Denver
McGee, 24, is a wildly athletic center that has not had the production to show for his natural ability. For his career, he averages 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He has improved on those numbers the last two seasons.
McGee showed his potential in the Nuggets' opening-round playoff loss to the Lakers this past season. In that series, he had three games where he grabbed at least 14 rebounds and was a true force down low.
He needs to figure out how to create this kind of production consistently, but he could easily develop into a top-of-the-line center in this center-starved league.
Jodie Meeks, G, RFA, Philadelphia
Meeks, 24, is a cold-blooded shooter. He has been flashing is smooth stroke for three years in the NBA. During that time, he is hitting 37.1 percent of his three point shots. He is also a career 88.4 percent free throw shooter, which is nice because for a shooter he does a decent job of getting to the stripe.
Meeks ability to shoot is not in question, but he needs to develop the rest of his game. Most importantly, on the offensive end, he needs to work on creating his own shot.
Meeks is solid athletically. With a few refined moves he could be effective off the dribble, and would wreak havoc on a defense.
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