NBA Free Agency: Ranking the Most Underrated Signings of the Offseason So Far
When you think about this summer's NBA free agency period, all the talk has surrounded the likes of Steve Nash, Deron Williams and Jeremy Lin.
Considering their mass popularity and appeal to mainstream NBA fans, it's understandable these guys get most of the love.
However, several teams have made their rosters better by acquiring diamonds in the rough.
Let's break down the 10 most underrated signings of the offseason thus far.
10. Jerryd Bayless (Memphis)
Coming off a consistent, productive year with the Toronto Raptors, multi-faceted guard Jerryd Bayless earned a solid contract and got just that with the Memphis Grizzlies.
According to initial reports by ESPN's Marc Stein, the former Arizona Wildcat was signed by the Grizzlies after the Raptors surprisingly rescinded their qualify offer, making Bayless an unrestricted free agent.
Not only can Bayless play a little point guard, but he's also lights-out from behind the arc and can replace some of the scoring Memphis will miss after the departure of O.J. Mayo.
Last year was a prosperous one for Bayless, averaging 11.4 points and 3.8 assists per game.
While the guard probably won't start, he'll get plenty of minutes, allowing him to have a significant impact on the Grizz if he continues to play like he did last season.
9. Gerald Green (Indiana)
In the past few years the Indiana Pacers have been quietly and humbly moving in a positive direction, and it's signings like Gerald Green that have them in the position they are right now.
As originally reported by New York Post's Peter Vecsey, the Pacers and Gerald Green reached an agreement on July 12.
Sure, the freakishly athletic Green won't start for Indiana, but the NBA journeyman will certainly make use of the minutes he earns.
After defining middle-of-the-road his first five years in the league, Green contributed heavily to the Nets last season, scoring 12.9 points per game and hauling in 3.5 rebounds per contest off the bench.
The Pacers have what it takes to challenge the Heat next season with their young and hungry roster, even after they traded away Darren Collison.
If Green can chip in and play inspired basketball like he did last year, the Pacers will be getting one of the biggest steals in this free agency period.
As a bonus, Green will wow fans with his ridiculous dunking ability. If you don't believe me, watch these highlights from the 2007 Dunk Contest, which he won.
8. Ramon Sessions (Charlotte)
Most free agent signees seem happy to be in a new situation.
However, my heart does go out to emerging point guard Ramon Sessions.
After starting 19 games for a championship-caliber team in the Los Angeles Lakers, Sessions did not exercise his player option in L.A. after the Lakers traded for Steve Nash. Sessions chose to sign with the arguably the worst team in basketball—the Charlotte Bobcats.
According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the terms of the agreement is a two-year deal worth $10 million, which is a fair contract for Sessions.
However, he may not get the amount of playing time he deserves or even start if the Bobcats decide to start all their young guys, which would include former Connecticut Huskies phenom Kemba Walker.
Regardless, Sessions is one of the most dependable and underrated guards that signed this offseason and it will be interesting to see how he pans out in Charlotte.
7. Grant Hill (L.A. Clippers)
While Grant Hill may not be the same player he was in Detroit during the late 90s, he still has the ability to come off the bench and play some quality minutes.
At age 39, the former Duke Blue Devil is oozing with NBA experience and can help mentor and groom younger players.
This is exactly what he'll be bringing to the table for the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Hill reached an agreement with the Clippers on July 17.
After acquiring Chris Paul and the emergence of Blake Griffin, the Clippers have moved from laughingstock of the league to playoff contender.
The addition of Hill will only bolster their chances of making noise in the postseason.
Along with a savvy, veteran approach needed to do well in the playoffs, Hill offers scoring spurts on offense and lock-down, fundamental defense.
6. Michael Beasley (Phoenix)
After being drafted No. 2 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, Michael Beasley never really found a niche in Miami but reinvented himself in Minnesota in an increased role.
After having two successful years in Minnesota, Beasley cashed in with a three-year deal with the Suns worth approximately $18 million as initially reported by ESPN's Marc Stein.
While he only started seven games last year for the Timberwolves, the Kansas State product still managed to put up solid numbers, averaging 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
However, Beasley and the Suns will be hoping he finds the scoring ability he had two years ago when he averaged over 19 points per game.
Beasley's emergence will be desperately needed if the Suns want to stay out of the Western Conference cellar and get into playoff contention.
5. Goran Dragic (Phoenix)
Kyle Lowry was having a fantastic stretch for the Houston Rockets last year before he got injured, leaving the team with questions at the point guard position.
However, the team didn't lose much in production when Slovenian guard Goran Dragic took over the point.
After spending his first four years in the league as role player/bench player, Dragic earned his chance to start and took advantage of the opportunity.
In 2011-12, Dragic averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 assists per game and for the Rockets, attracting the attention of many teams heading into the offseason.
His consistent and fundamental play in the lockout-shortened 2012 season paid off as the Slovenian reeled in a four-year deal worth $34 million with the Phoenix Suns (via Marc Stein, ESPN).
After only starting in 36 games over his five-year career, it will be interesting to see how Dragic does in an increased role as a permanent starter.
4. Luis Scola (Phoenix)
While Scola may have to battle for playing time with Michael Beasley, the former Rockets forward will be looking to make a huge impact on the Suns in 2012.
Even though he's not a guy who can single-handedly take a team to the postseason, Scola's efficiency is something to be reckoned with.
Spending his entire five-year career with Houston, Scola's production numbers have progressively risen every year he's been in the league, except for a slight three-point dip from 2010-11 to 2011-12.
At 6'9" and 245 lbs, Scola has the height and body frame to pull down a good amount of rebounds and get physical in the paint.
He also possesses the uncanny ability to score—something the Suns would obviously welcome with open arms.
3. Lamar Odom (L.A. Clippers)
Not only did the Clippers bring in savvy veteran Grant Hill, but they also acquired proven winner and former Clipper Lamar Odom.
Odom, who established himself as a valuable and talented player with Los Angeles from 1999-2003, will be looking to prove to the league that he can still make an impact after flopping in Dallas.
If you give Odom a pass for last season, then you're looking at a 13-year veteran who averages more than 14 points per game for his career and has two NBA championship rings.
If you have a young, impressionable-but-talented squad like the Clippers do, bringing in a guy like Odom is a no-brainer.
Odom has always played in Los Angeles. Getting him back to his roots will definitely be boost to his confidence and morale.
2. Lou Williams (Atlanta)
Even though he may not be well known outside the Atlantic Division, Lou Williams is a guy who would make any team better as a starter or as a spark off the bench.
The Atlanta Hawks, who signed Williams to a multi-year contract last week, are hoping the former Sixer will fill the scoring void left by starting guard Joe Johnson.
While he primarily came off the bench for Philadelphia the past few years, Williams has proven he's capable of starting almost anywhere in the league.
The 25-year-old guard has career averages of 11.3 points, three assists and two rebounds per game.
Although he may need to work on playing more unselfishly, the guard has a silky smooth jumper and can use his swift feet to drive to the hoop at any moment.
1. O.J. Mayo (Dallas)
After losing out on Deron Williams, the Mavericks and Mark Cuban faced the wrath of the media.
Considering the failure to bring in a huge name to play along with Dirk Nowitzki, many pundits labeled the Mavs one of the losers of free agency so far.
Since then they've stepped their game up and have quietly put together one of the best free agent classes of the summer.
Not only did they bring in two cheap, effective big men in Elton Brand and Chris Kaman and traded for Darren Collison, they also reeled in swingman O.J. Mayo.
On Monday night, Mayo took to his Twitter account to announce that he would be moving to Dallas to play for Rick Carlisle.
While the former USC Trojan has come off the bench the past two years for the Grizzlies, Mayo clearly has the athletic ability and scoring prowess needed in a starting shooting guard.
The third-overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Mayo found great success in his first two years in the league averaging around 18 points per game.
While his production has dropped off a bit over the past couple of years, Mayo is one of most underrated signings of the offseason and a change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered for the young talent.