Biggest Strength of Best NBA Free Agent Remaining at Every Position

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2012

Biggest Strength of Best NBA Free Agent Remaining at Every Position

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    It goes without saying this free-agent market isn't what it used to be.

    Restricted free agents like Nic Batum and Roy Hibbert remained with their previous clubs, as did prized target Deron Williams. Other than a few headline-makers like Steve Nash's relocation to Los Angeles, most of the player movement this offseason has been relatively mundane.

    What's left of that offseason, however, will make July seem absolutely bustling in comparison.

    That said, there are still some guys out there who can make a difference. They probably aren't going to compete for a starting job, but they still have some skills that are in high demand.

    Someone like Leandro Barbosa is well-deserving of the term "role player." He knows how to play a role, and that's about it. From three-point specialists to defensively-minded big men, here's a look at the strengths that define the best remaining free agent at each position.

Center–Darko Milicic

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    You know the remaining market for free-agent centers is thin when the best one out there is Darko Milicic.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves used their amnesty clause on the 7'0" center, saving the team over $5 million this season. The 27-year-old has been an epic disappointment given that he was taken with the second-overall draft pick by the Detroit Pistons in 2003.

    Nevertheless, Milicic can still make some contributions off the bench.

    It's hard to imagine his scoring ability improving that much at this point, but he's good for a few blocks. For teams in need of a guy to guard the rim, that shot-blocking ability could come in handy. At the very least, it should land him a job, even it's a low-paying one by NBA standards.

Power Forward–Kenyon Martin

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    There are certainly some younger power forwards that some teams could prefer to Kenyon Martin. Restricted free agent Darrell Arthur has a mid-range jumper that could win a front office over if the Memphis Grizzlies don't elect to match an offer sheet.

    And, the amnestied Andray Blatche could very well salvage his career if the right change of scenery comes along.

    But, the safest bet for a team looking for veteran help is Kenyon Martin.

    His scoring ability has certainly declined along with his diminished athletic ability, but he remains a well above-average defender.

    Martin brings energy to the defensive end, and he'll dig his heels in when guarding the post. Though not an exceptional shot-blocker, the 6'9" 34-year-old is still explosive enough to get his share of rejections. He averaged a block per game despite averaging just 22.4 minutes of playing time with the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

    Additionally, his quick hands can still cause trouble in the paint and keep scorers honest. 

    Martin wasn't especially impressive during his stint with the Clippers, but he's still got some game left in him and could help put a contender's bench over the top.

Small Forward–Josh Howard

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    With Jeff Green apparently on his way back to the Boston Celtics, the best small forwards out there are Matt Barnes, Alonzo Gee and Josh Howard.

    You could make an argument for any of those guys being the best at their position, but Howard probably remains the most well-rounded. His mid-range jumper is dangerous at times, but that's not what will earn him a paycheck at this point.

    His more important contributions come at the defensive end.

    Howard's size and quickness make him an ideal option to guard opposing scorers on the wing, and that in and of itself makes him something of a commodity. The 32-year-old has lost a step after some injuries, but he still has the ability to stay in front of most forwards. 

    He'll also get in passing lanes and use his quick hands to get a few steals.

Shooting Guard–Jodie Meeks

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    Jodie Meeks is a bit undersized to play shooting guard, and he's certainly one-dimensional.

    But, he's good at what he does, and that's shooting three-pointers.

    Over half of Meeks' field-goal attempts were from range last season, and he made almost 37 percent of them. He was occasionally lights-out, even making seven treys in a 31-point explosion against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    He won't do that every night, but it gives you a sense of his potential to rack up points from time to time off the bench. 

    The 76ers often relied on him to start games, but he's better-suited as a long-range specialist off the bench.

Point Guard–Leandro Barbosa

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    Leandro Barbosa is really more of a combo-guard, but if you're a team still in need of a back-up point guard, you'll take him.

    His end-to-end speed is impressive, but it's not what sets him apart.

    Barbosa is one of those rare finds who can hit three-pointers off the dribble, keeping defenders honest no matter where he is on the court. Combine that with his speed and ability to get into the paint, this guy can be a handful on the perimeter.

    He won't do much else though. Despite his ability to cause some turnovers, he doesn't defend well, and he rarely passes the ball. 

    He's less of a defensive liability at the point, but he's not a distributor. He'd fit in best with a club who has a point-forward or even another combo-guard with some passing instincts.