20 NBA Free-Agent Hidden Treasures
In NBA free agency, the big names always get the most attention. Case in point: So far this summer, all the attention has gone to Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin.
While there are never enough stars to go around, there is plenty of talent to fill most NBA rosters. Teams may focus on getting stars, but for squads who can’t sign the big names or don’t have a ton of money, there are still plenty of “diamond in the rough” players to sign.
Let’s check out 20 players who could be solid surprise signings.
The Sacramento Kings cut 7'0" center Hassan Whiteside on July 16 in order to make room for newly acquired Aaron Brooks.
Whiteside, the 33rd overall selection in 2010, has excellent potential but has failed to put it together on the court. He's very athletic, has an NBA-center body and was a dynamic blocker in college, holding the NCAA freshman record before Anthony Davis broke it last year.
Still, he failed to impress in his two years and now finds himself without a team. If he gets signed by a veteran squad that provides him with the proper motivation, the potential is certainly there.
Shannon Brown averaged 11.0 points and 2.7 rebounds a game last year for the Phoenix Suns but remains unsigned.
He's hardly an efficient player (his career shooting percentage is just 42.2 percent), but he's the kind of guy who would make an excellent impact on a championship-caliber squad.
Why teams like Chicago, San Antonio and Oklahoma City aren't ringing his phone off the hook is a big question to me.
Kings fans loved Donte Greene to death. He was a great player who loved to interact with the fans and held a pickup game in Davis, California during last year's lockout. He also put together some incredible dunks in his tenure as a King.
That said, he was incredibly inconsistent and never reached his potential. He'll be a nice bench spark plug somewhere, and hopefully the fans will learn to appreciate him.
Lester Hudson bounced around in the league for a few years before exploding with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. He averaged 12.7 points, 2.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 13 games for Cleveland before signing a contract to finish the season with the Memphis Grizzlies.
He only played three games for the Grizzlies, but don't be surprised if he signs quietly with some team needing a backup guard and then comes out of nowhere—again.
Carl Landry averaged 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year for the New Orleans Hornets. Nothing special, but the 6'9" forward should still be getting more free-agent attention than he is.
He's a below-average defender, but his post game is very solid, and any squad needing some backup bigs shouldn't hesitate to see if it can snag him for cheap.
Scott Machado should have been drafted. He averaged 13.6 points and 9.9 assists per game last year for Iona but found himself without an NBA team after the 2012 draft.
He's currently on the Houston Rockets' summer league team, and while he's struggling to score (eight points per game on 38.9 percent shooting), he's dishing out 5.6 assists per contest. That's pretty impressive, especially in the summer league with no time to get used to your teammates.
He has all the tools and abilities to be a true undrafted steal.
It's a bit surprising to see a sharpshooter like Meeks still unsigned. He'll never be a star, but as his numbers prove (8.1 points and 37.1 percent three-point shooting), he's a solid spot-up role player.
Philadelphia opted not to re-sign him and traded for the Warriors' Dorell Wright instead. Still, there has to be a team out there that wants a very talented role-playing shooter.
Terrence Williams was a very solid pickup for the Kings last year, averaging 8.8 points and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field.
Still, the Kings moved on from Williams when they traded for Toronto's James Johnson. Williams is a very good defender and a solid all-around performer and will provide excellent bench depth for whatever team signs him.
Stiemsma was one of the more surprisingly productive rookies last year and was a big part of the Boston Celtics' big-man corps.
He only played 13.9 minutes per game but averaged 2.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a contest. Per 48 minutes, that would bring his averages to 10.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.5 blocks.
Minnesota seems primed to steal the young big man away from Boston, according to his agent, Mike Naiditch. The Wolves did let go of Darko Milicic and need some backup center depth. Getting Stiemsma will be a nice addition if he does sign with them.
Daniel Orton lasted just two years for Orlando, averaging 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game last season for the Magic.
He's incredibly, incredibly raw and needs some patient veteran to learn from. Still, if all the pieces fall right, he could be a solid player...just don't hold your breath.
Hamed Haddadi was never able to break off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies, but the 7'2" Iranian player will provide some squad with a solid backup who can rebound, defend and score at times.
Hopefully he'll go somewhere where he can get more than his career average of 6.1 minutes a game.
Taking summer league games with a grain of salt, Josh Akognon still looks like he could be a backup guard in the NBA.
He's averaged 19.3 points on 53 percent shooting so far in the summer league for the Kings. Expect him to get a training camp invite, and if he continues this hot play, maybe he can sneak onto a team next season.
Jordan Hill only played in seven regular-season games last year for the Lakers, but he played in 12 postseason games and averaged 4.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per contest off the bench for Los Angeles.
He'll never be worthy of the eighth overall pick he was drafted with back in 2009, but he at least proved last season to be a capable backup player.
UPDATE (10:30 a.m. ET, July 21): Hill has reportedly re-signed with the Lakers.
...On second thought, you can skip this one.
Randy Foye had a strong year last year for the Clippers, averaging 11.0 points and 38.6 percent shooting from three-point land. It's a bit surprising to still see him unsigned.
Yes, he's not exactly efficient (he has a career field-goal percentage of just 41.1 percent), but when half of his field goals last year were from three, it's not surprising to see his total field-goal percentage fall.
He's a proven sharpshooter and a solid defender, and if the Clippers can't use him, some other team will.
Delonte West will always be a slight headache, but he's a fine player with no serious weakness. For the Dallas Mavericks last year he averaged 9.6 points and 3.2 assists on 46.1 percent shooting.
He really picked it up towards the end of the season, averaging 12.2 points on 50 percent shooting in the month of April. He was an excellent cheap pickup by the Mavericks last year and will likely be the same this year for whoever signs him.
UPDATE: Rudy Fernandez has signed with Real Madrid.
Leandro Barbosa struggled towards the end of the season with the Pacers, and he averaged just 8.9 points and 39.9 percent shooting with Indiana.
He's a very smart veteran who still plays tough defense and is a more than capable three-point shooter (he hit 42.4 percent of his three-point shots with the Pacers).
Perhaps teams think the 29-year-old Barbosa is slowing down, but I'll be surprised if he doesn't have a decent season next year. He's still good for 10 points, 38 percent three-point shooting and exceptional defense.
Jonny Flynn was a bust of a lottery selection. The sixth overall pick from the 2009 draft has career numbers of 9.2 points and 3.9 assists per game along with 40 percent shooting from the field.
That said, he could be a solid bench option if he signs with a veteran squad. He's a poor shooter, but he isn't a bad passer or ball-handler (he had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.75 last season) and could be a solid surprise if the rest of the league completely writes him off.
Nate Robinson averaged 11.2 points and 4.5 assists last year for the Golden State Warriors, proving once again that he's an extremely capable bench spark plug.
As a starter he was even better, averaging 12.3 points and 6.3 assists per game in nine games for the Warriors. I'll never understand how Robinson struggles to find work. As a bench scorer, he's among the best.