Predicting Which 2012 NBA Free Agents Will Shine and Which Will Bust
Despite the wishes of NBA general managers, not every 2012 NBA free agent will shine under his new contract. Some will, but some will turn out to be massive busts.
With just about every team wrapping up its search for roster-fillers, the big names are all off the markets.
So, which five free agents will shine the most, and which will flame out?
Read on to find out.
Shine: Ray Allen
Even though Ray Allen won't be starting with the Miami Heat, he's going to be put into a great situation.
Allen won't need to do all the little things anymore. The NBA's all-time three-point king is simply going to be asked to do what he does best—knock down shots from the outside.
If you thought Mike Miller and Shane Battier looked incredible for the defending champions during last season's playoffs, just wait until you see what a healthy Allen can do.
Bust: Omer Asik
Omer Asik signed a big enough contract with the Houston Rockets that he almost has to stay in the starting lineup during each and every game.
It's too bad that he hasn't exactly justified inclusion in the starting five.
Last season with the Chicago Bulls, Asik averaged 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in 14.7 minutes of action per contest. He posted a PER of 14.2 and allowed opposing centers to put up a 15.9 PER against him, according to 82games.com.
Do those numbers make Asik sound like a starter to you?
If you answered yes, I'm sorry you've been a fan of the Charlotte Bobcats for the last few years.
Shine: Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic used Kyle Lowry's injuries to storm into the Houston Rockets starting lineup. Then he used his opportunity to earn a big contract in free agency with the Phoenix Suns.
Now, he's going to use his starting role in the desert to elevate himself into one of the league's upper-echelon point guards.
Dragic possesses an intriguing blend of scoring skills, passing ability and creativity on the basketball court.
Once he's given the reins in the Phoenix, he'll start to make Phoenix fans forget about Steve Nash. It's not possible for him to erase the memory of the Canadian from Phoenix's collective mind, but he can at least start the process.
With Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley all receiving passes from Dragic, he'll have the opportunity to shine and help the Suns make a possible push towards the postseason.
Bust: Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert might have made the All-Star team last season, but that stemmed more from the lack of elite centers in the Eastern Conference than his own individual prowess.
The 7'2" big man from Georgetown still has a high upside, even if he's currently unpolished on the offensive end and limited on defense. While Hibbert is a solid shot-blocker, he's not a truly elite low-post defender at this stage of his career.
Hibbert will continue to be a solid player for the Indiana Pacers, but the team is stacked with enough talent that he won't become an offensive powerhouse. While he could, he won't be pushed to do so because David West, George Hill, Danny Granger, Gerald Green and the rest of the Pacers will pick up the slack on the more glamorous end of the court.
He's certainly not deserving of a max contract at this stage of his career.
Shine: Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin broke out with the New York Knicks, but Linsanity is going to live on with the Houston Rockets.
Given the amount of money that Daryl Morey is paying him, Lin has to receive quite a few minutes. He'll be handed full control of the on-court product and asked to do everything he can to help the team win games.
Too many turnovers? That won't keep Lin off the court.
Too many missed shots? Same.
Too few wins? Ditto.
The Rockets are going to be a fun team in a few years—they have too many intriguing young players not to be—but they won't be a contender during the 2012-2013 season.
Lin will be able to put up a bunch of relatively meaningless stats, averaging around 20 points and 10 assists per game, and he'll continue to build his international brand.
Bust: Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez doesn't play much defense and has yet to learn what rebounding means. In Lopez's mind, rebounding implies showing resiliency and bouncing back from a missed shot rather than crashing the boards.
At this stage of the Stanford product's career, the seven-footer is exclusively an offensive powerhouse.
However, Lopez won't be able to show off his skills as often as he'd like in the Brooklyn Nets offense. With Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace joining him on the court, shots will be a bit hard to come by.
Additionally, Lopez needs to prove that he can stay healthy. After foot trouble kept him out for almost the entirety of his last season, it's unknown if he'll be able to return to top form.
Even if he does, he's certainly not worth as much money as the Nets were legally allowed to pay him.
Shine: Mirza Teletovic
Don't worry, Nets fans, I'm going to balance out your bust pickup with one in the opposite category.
Mirza Teletovic will make a big impact off the Brooklyn bench during his first season in the NBA. After all, the power forward was one of the best players in international basketball during his time with Caja Laboral.
Just like Brook Lopez, Teletovic isn't a great rebounder or defender. However, he's a reserve player at this stage of his professional career and won't be asked to provide more than offense during his time on the hardcourt.
Teletovic will be an especially dangerous pick-and-roll player thanks to his terrific shot from downtown. With a quick release and a tendency to fade away if necessary, Teletovic's shot is quite difficult to block and often finds the bottom of the net.
Bust: Jameer Nelson
If anybody can figure out why the rebuilding Orlando Magic decided to re-sign Jameer Nelson to a three-year contract this summer, please explain it to me.
Rob Hennigan knew that he was going to be trading Dwight Howard for pennies on the dollar. He knew that the team was about to start over and begin again from the bottom of the NBA totem pole.
Despite this knowledge, he still offered a multi-year contract to a 30-year-old point guard with limited upside.
Nelson is a solid player, but he's not the future of the franchise.
Shine: Lou Williams
Somebody has to replace the scoring void left by Joe Johnson when Danny Ferry traded the sharpshooting 2-guard to the Brooklyn Nets.
There's no better candidate for the job than Lou Williams, who led the Philadelphia 76ers in points per game during the 2011-12 season.
Although he's primarily a point guard, Williams will line up at shooting guard quite often for the Atlanta Hawks, allowing the team to play small ball with a backcourt comprised of Jeff Teague and this new addition.
With a great pump fake, an improving jumper and an innate ability to draw contact and get to the charity stripe, Williams is going to score points in bunches for his new team.
He'll be well worth the money spent.
Bust: Steve Novak
Before the 2011-12 campaign, Steve Novak had only averaged double-digit minutes per game with the 19-win Los Angeles Clippers in 2008-09.
Despite the fact that Novak shot well above his career average from downtown last season while playing more minutes, the New York Knicks could be dealing with a mirage. The sample size of Novak's metamorphosis from benchwarmer into contributor is quite small.
It's rather curious that Novak didn't take off during this past campaign until Jeremy Lin entered the picture.
Lin took over the starting job in early February, and Novak took just three games to match his three-point tally from the pre-Lin portion of the season.
Now, Lin is gone, but Novak will still be playing in Madison Square Garden for another four years.
Only time will tell, but a regression to the mean is a strong possibility.