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The 12 Most Overvalued and Undervalued 2013 NBA Free Agents

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2016

The 12 Most Overvalued and Undervalued 2013 NBA Free Agents

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    There's no use pretending you haven't thought about it.

    The 2013 NBA free agency period is anything but around the corner, yet to attempt to ignore its importance, even for a short while, is less than futile.

    Though an ample amount of energy is currently being spent showering teams like the Lakers with offseason praise, the time to look ahead, and see which teams and players will re-shape the league next summer, is now.

    But in doing so, there are a number of pitfalls that must be avoided, hidden obstacles with the potential to discredit logic and render teams' blueprints useless.

    Because when attempting to make a free-agency splash, franchises must be careful not to overlook particulars, the details that serve as insight into how valuable an athlete actually is.

    After all, failure to do the due diligence can often result in a larger-than-prescribed dose of buyer's remorse both for what teams ultimately paid for, and what they didn't. 

12. Lamar Odom, F, Los Angeles Clippers

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    2012-13 Salary: $8,200,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Undervalued

    As Lamar Odom prepares to officially begin his second stint with the Clippers, he continues to be underestimated.

    Though the forward is fresh off the worst season of his career, he's been wildly undervalued for the better part of 13 years.

    It's not so much how much Odom is compensated for his services, but the lack of respect for the actual services he provides. He's one of the most versatile players in the game who can have a star-esque impact. Just ask Kobe Bryant.

    And yet, especially now after the disaster in Dallas, Odom's career averages of 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game hardly receive proper recognition.

    Yes, Odom is 32 and on a quest for redemption, but his ceiling remains that of a prolific game-changer, not a bit role player.

11. Mo Williams, G, Utah Jazz

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    2012-13 Salary: $8,500,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Undervalued

    Utah's acquisition of Mo Williams got lost in the 2012 offseason shuffle and, as of right now, a similar reality can be expected of the combo guard's free-agent exploits next summer.

    While he isn't what you would call a traditional point guard, he's an above-average floor general, with exceptional court vision and the ability to break down a wide array of defensive sets.

    Williams is also as streaky a shooter as there is—in a good way, not in a Jamal Crawford way. He's extremely deft at attacking the rim, yet can score from anywhere else on the floor as well.

    And even still, Williams has been undervalued his entire career, from his days in Milwaukee to his time in Cleveland next to LeBron James to, most recently, his stay with the Clippers.

    But that has to end. Williams must be looked at for what he is— a 15 points and six assists per game type pillar, not a second coming of the erratic Crawford.

10. DeJuan Blair, C, San Antonio

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    2012-13 Salary: $1,054,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Undervalued

    DeJuan Blair is both undersized and undervalued.

    At 6'7", Blair is small, for both the power forward and center positions, yet what he lacks in size, he makes up for in will, strength and execution.

    For the past three years, he's shown the people of San Antonio and the rest of the league how ferocious a rebounder he can be, how great a touch he has around the rim and just how much of a workhorse he is in general.

    And yet, Blair, despite continuing to defy the odds and exceed expectations, finds himself an afterthought, even on a Spurs team that values everything he represents.

    Seriously?

    I mean, I don't know about you, but ACL, or no ACL, I'll take 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and a 17.61 PER from a fundamental stud any day of the year. 

9. Ronnie Brewer, SG, New York Knicks

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    2012-13 Salary: $1,069,590

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Undervalued

    Ronnie Brewer has never quite matched the level of success he experienced between 2007-2009 with the Jazz, yet his value remains grossly underrated.

    Not only is the 6'7" shooting guard a stout defender and superb ball handler for his size, but he's an absolute workhorse. He runs the floor extremely well and, despite an ugly-looking jumper, has the ability to put some points on the board.

    That's not indicative of a player who should be collecting the veteran's minimum this season, is it? And yet, Brewer finds himself in New York making just that, which is a borderline insult to the level of impact he stands to make when he's healthy.

    More often than not, glue-guys, the type of players who have a vital impact that cannot be measured in the box score, just don't receive the respect they deserve. And Brewer is no exception.

8. Nate Robinson, PG, Chicago Bulls

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    2012-13 Salary: $1,146,337

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Undervalued

    I get it, Nate Robinson is a generally listed 5'9". But he's also one of the most lethal scoring threats in the NBA.

    Though the point guard isn't known for his facilitating abilities, he took great strides toward becoming more of a floor general when called upon last season, averaging a career-high 4.5 assists for the Warriors.

    Even that wasn't enough to earn Robinson a multi-year deal this summer, though. And we're talking about a freakishly prolific athlete that cannot only dish out five dimes a night, but also drop 11 points at the blink of eye.

    Let's not forget that Robinson is also a threat to drop 40 on any given night either.

    And yet, he still finds him self making five times less to be a more efficient, albeit shorter, version of Jamal Crawford.

    Where's the justice in that?

7. Darren Collison, PG, Dallas Mavericks

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    2012-13 Salary: $2,319,344

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Restricted

    Undervalued

    Kudos to the Mavericks for stealing Darren Collison away from the Pacers.

    While the point guard's production declined a bit in his last season with Indiana, he's still a career 12.1 points and 5.2 assists per game floor general. And what's wrong with that?

    Collison may not be known for his defense, but he's better at defending the passing lanes than people give him credit for. He's also a terrific ball handler, who's great at protecting the rock and boasts above-average court vision.

    Somehow, the Pacers, just like the Hornets, thought it wise to ship him out, though. And while I understand New Orleans had Chris Paul at the time, what's Indiana's excuse? Last time I checked, George Hill was hardly fit for running the point full-time.

    But there's no use dwelling on the past; let's just focus on the future. A future that hopefully sees Dallas place more faith in Collison than his previous two employers did.

6. Gary Neal, G, San Antonio Spurs

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    2012-13 Salary: $972,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Restricted

    Undervalued

    There was a time, during the 2010-11 campaign, when Gary Neal generated a substantial amount of hype. But that hype subsided, even though Neal's impact never did.

    In just two seasons in the NBA, the combo guard has posted an impressive average of 9.9 points, 1.6 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game. And only last season, he knocked down over 40 percent of his three-point attempts while also going to great lengths to improve as a facilitator.

    Enough can simply not be said about Neal's work ethic, and his willingness to evolve as an athlete, even though he's already 28 years old.

    Somehow, though, the praise surrounding the 6'4" surprise has been capped. He continues to fly under the radar and is hardly considered a game-changer outside of San Antonio.

    Which is a grave mistake to say the least.

5. Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    2012-13 Salary: 4,640,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Restricted

    Undervalued

    In a league where centers are often overvalued, Nikola Pekovic is one of the few who isn't.

    It took the big man two years after he was officially drafted before he finally made his NBA debut, but he's proved to be worth the wait for the Timberwolves.

    Last season, Pekovic improved by leaps and bounds, averaging 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, on his way to posting a 21.47 PER, which was fifth among all centers.

    And while his defense is often spotty, he's an extremely aggressive rebounder and talented post scorer who stands to improve even more alongside a healthy Ricky Rubio.

    But when's the last time you heard about him? When's the last time he was mentioned in the same breath as one of the league's more talented bigs? 

    Because for all he has done, Pekovic is hardly a blip on most NBA radars.

    And that's a shame.

4. C.J. Watson, PG, Brooklyn Nets

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    2012-13 Salary: $992,680

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted (Player Option)

    Undervalued

    C.J. Watson's appearance goes beyond what he did for the Bulls. Well beyond it, in fact.

    Over the course of his five-year career, the point guard, when provided with actual playing time, has delivered.

    Remember when he averaged 10.3 points and 2.8 assists in 27.5 minutes per game for the Warriors during the 2009-10 campaign?

    You probably don't, because the most recognition Watson has received came last season in Chicago, yet even that wasn't enough to land him a deal that paid him more than $1 million in the first year.

    That's a borderline travesty, because while he isn't the greatest of playmakers, he's a talented scorer and strong defender.

    And hopefully next summer, he'll be compensated as such.

3. Antawn Jamison, PF, Los Angeles Lakers

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    2012-13 Salary: $1,352,181

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Undervalued

    I'm well aware that it was Antawn Jamison's decision to sign on for the veteran's minimum with the Lakers, but this goes beyond salary.

    Dating back to his time with the Cavaliers, Jamison was never held in as high a regard as he should have been; no matter how much he scored, how many rebounds he grabbed or how high a percentage he shot, he was still just a one-trick pony.

    But Jamison is anything but one-dimensional. Sure, he struggled from the field last season, knocking down just over 40 percent of his field-goal attempts, but he still averaged over 17 points and six rebounds per game on his way to stretching defenses paper-thin. 

    And while he's never been considered a defensive stud, he's great at poking the ball away from bigs in the low post.

    But that doesn't matter, because he's no superstar right?

    Correct, Jamison isn't a star, but he's more than a bit player—he's an undervalued commodity who's bound to become an integral cog in Los Angeles' championship machine.

2. Tiago Splitter, F, San Antonio Spurs

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    2012-13 Salary: $3,944,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Restricted

    Undervalued

    Not enough can be said about the two-way impact of Tiago Splitter.

    In just two years in the league, the forward has proven to be one of the more efficient players in the game. He knocked down over 61 percent of his field-goal attempts last season, while averaging an impressive 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in under 20 minutes per game.

    And while Splitter isn't one to rack up blocks or steals on the defensive end, he plays with great hustle on that side of the ball, and is rarely overpowered or outmaneuvered in the low post.

    You would think a player with that type of skill set and documented results would be given plenty of respect with regards to not just his importance to the Spurs, but as an athlete in general.

    Apparently, though, that's simply asking too much, as Splitter, much like his teammates DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal, continues to fly under the radar.

1. Tony Allen, SG, Memphis Grizzlies

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    2012-13 Salary: $3,300,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Undervalued

    It's not that easy being Tony Allen.

    Despite being recognized as one of the NBA's premier perimeter defenders, the elusive shooting guard hardly receives enough credit for how talented an all-around player he truly his.

    Because as lockdown a defender as Allen is, he is more than just someone who swarms the ball and clogs the passing lane. 

    Delve deeper into the diligence of him, and you'll see he has a great first step on the offensive end. He is also adept at handling the ball, which allows him to man the point in a pinch. And how about his aggression on the boards for someone who stands at 6'4"? What about that?

    The fact of the matter is, Allen's 9.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game last season were no joke. He's one of the most fundamentally sound, well-rounded wings in the league.

    And broken jump shot or not, it's time he was recognized as more than just a defensive specialist.

12. Metta World Peace, SF, Los Angeles Lakers

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    2012-13: $7,258,960

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted (Early Termination Option)

    Overvalued

    Not much is expected of Metta World Peace these days, but even that is far too much.

    Since joining the Lakers, his production has dropped off almost completely, to the point where he averaged just 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last season on his way to crippling his status as a premiere defender.

    And yet, it seems as if the basketball world is almost waiting with bated breath for World Peace to return to star-caliber status, to re-ignite the defensive flame that once burned so bright.

    But it's not going to happen. It's been three years and with each passing season, he's become more of a two-way liability.

    So, while any faith currently shown in the troubled small forward has contributed to his overvalue, don't expect him to terminate his contract upon season's end.

    Because by the end of this year, not even he will have that much faith in himself.

11. Emeka Okafor, C, Washington Wizards

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    2012-13 Salary: $13,543,250

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted (Early Termination Option)

    Overvalued

    Emeka Okafor is a solid big man, but he's not great, and he's paid far too much money to be a less-than-star-caliber talent.

    Though the center is valued now primarily for his defense, the days of him swatting away close to two shots per game are over, as are the days of him averaging a double-double.

    At this point, Okafor is merely a 6'10" presence who will never develop into a feared offensive force and has likely relinquished his status as a defensive stalwart,

    That's why, just like Metta World Peace, it would be surprising to see him terminate his contract early. Because as overvalued as he is, he will not be able to feign two-way competency much longer. 

10. Stephen Jackson, SG, San Antonio Spurs

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    2012-13 Salary: $10,060,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted 

    Overvalued

    While the term "overvalued" applies to more than just a player's salary, let it be known that I'm not at all content with Stephen Jackson earning more than Tim Duncan this season.

    Now, moving on.

    Though Jackson was a talented scorer in his prime, his best days are well behind him, and to be honest, he was never really a consistent threat to begin with.

    I mean, this is a guy who struggled to shoot over 40 percent from the field for a majority of his career, and whose point totals fluctuated more than Eddy Curry's weight.

    Factor in his turnover and motor issues, and you have an athlete whose been overrated in just about every facet of the game for his entire career.

    Buyer beware next summer, indeed.

9. Jason Maxiell, PF, Detroit Pistons

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    2012-13 Salary: $5,000,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Overvalued

    Jason Maxiell is overvalued, overrated and overweight.

    Though the power forward has received plenty of opportunities to prove himself with the Pistons over the past seven years, he has hardly taken advantage of them.

    For his career, Maxiell has averaged a lukewarm 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and proven to be a defensive liability in the post. And while he has never amounted to more than a 20-minutes-per-game player, the fact that he's lasted as long as he has, and paid as much as he is, boggles the mind.

    Luckily for him, he finds himself in a position to be an everyday starter for the second straight season in Detroit.

    Unfortunately for the Pistons, such a victory for him is unlikely to translate into additional wins for the team.

8. Andrei Kirilenko, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    2012-13 Salary: $9,779,349

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted (Player Option)

    Overvalued

    At his peak, Andrei Kirilenko was extremely versatile, and he probably still is. But at 31 and more than a year removed from the NBA, there's no telling how much of an impact he can still make.

    That said, it must be acknowledged that his statistical demise began even before his short hiatus. He averaged 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in 2010-11, his last season in the league. Solid numbers, yes, but hardly star-worthy.

    So, while Kirilenko may still be a stout defender, he's also still an unreliable offensive option with an inconsistent jump shot.

    Which is why it's highly unlikely he opts to explore the open market next summer, because there's no way his remaining abilities will be enough to land him more than $10 million annually.

7. Aaron Brooks, PG, Phoenix Suns

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    2012-13 Salary: $3,250,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted (Player Option)

    Overvalued

    Since the 2009-10 campaign, when Aaron Brooks averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game for the Rockets, the expectation has been that the point guard would develop into a top-tier playmaker.

    But he hasn't.

    Before spending last season overseas, he watched his production taper off with both Houston and Phoenix in 2010-11. Now, he's landed in Sacramento, where he's supposed to compete for the starting job.

    Yet the thing is, regardless of how cheap he came, Brooks is no more than a second-string floor general at best.

    Sure, he's a talented scorer, but his career field-goal percentage of 41.1 percent is hardly impressive. And for a point guard, he's a less than adequate distributor with a penchant for failure on the defensive end.

    His notoriously bad attitude doesn't help his case, either.

    So, with regards to Brooks, it's not so much that he's a case of lost potential, as it is that his ceiling was set too high in the first place.

6. Kevin Martin, SG, Houston Rockets

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    2012-13 Salary: $12,939,675

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Overvalued

    And you thought Carmelo Anthony was one-dimensional.

    While Kevin Martin can score, he can't do much else. He's not a strong defender or a deft passer, or even an exceptionally accurate shooter.

    So, what are you left with? An injury-prone volume scorer whose point totals have allowed him to toe the lines between superstar and above-average role player.

    And as welcomed as such a talent may be on most rosters, there's no use denying that Martin's inability to develop the rest of his game has left him overrated, overpaid and incapable of making the type of impact his offensive numbers suggest. 

5. Nick Young, SG, Philadelphia 76ers

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    2012-13 Salary: $6,000,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Overvalued

    Holy inefficiency.

    Come hell or high water, you can always count on one thing—Nick Young's points are never going to come easy.

    Though the shooting guard can be an outside threat and talented scorer in general, he's hardly consistent. He may be able to put up between 15-20 points per game, but he's always going to struggle to hit 40 percent of his field-goal attempts.

    Factor in his penchant for bad decisions and lackadaisical defense, and you have an athlete who is the epitome of one-dimensionality.

    After all, it says a great deal when the Clippers opt to throw piles of money toward an aging Jamal Crawford instead of you, doesn't it?

4. Boris Diaw, PF, San Antonio Spurs

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    2012-13 Salary: $4,500,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted (Player Option)

    Overvalued

    Never before has versatility seemed so unattractive.

    Even after signing at less than half his previous going rate, Boris Diaw remains overvalued.

    The forward is a perpetual underachiever who has yet to prove that he can remain in game shape for an entire season.

    Sure, Diaw can play all five positions, but he's hardly a consistent shooter, and he averaged a mere 6.1 points per game combined between Charlotte and San Antonio last season. 

    There's also his underwhelming display on the glass—4.9 rebounds per game last season—and suspect defense to consider.

    And yet, because he's supposedly versatile, his shortcomings are tolerated with the hope that he'll improve and reach his full potential.

    Well, it's been almost a decade. Clearly, it's safe to say he cannot be relied upon to be more than a mediocre basketball presence.

3. Samuel Dalembert, C, Milwaukee Bucks

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    2012-13 Salary: $6,700,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted

    Overvalued

    Defensive specialist or not, Samuel Dalembert receives far too much credit.

    Though the big man is a talented defender—he can rebound and defend face-up and back-to-the-basket sets rather well—he's an offensive liability who continues to deteriorate athletically.

    More so than anything else, when teams look at Dalembert now, they see a 6'11" presence who may grab some rebounds and block some shots.

    But he may also force you to play a man down on the offensive end, as he has only averaged 10 or more points per game twice in his career.

    And while his PER last season hit 16.98, such a number is a direct result of his "spot-playing," because Dalembert isn't going to give you 30-plus minutes of strong basketball every night.

    Why? Well, 1) you cannot afford to play him that long otherwise he'll destroy your offensive dynamic and 2) he's hardly in tip-top shape. And it's more than an age thing; that's been the case his entire career.

    I don't know about you, but I'm far from impressed.

2. Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago Bulls

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    2012-13 Salary: $2,155,811

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Restricted

    Overvalued

    This has nothing to do with Taj Gibson's current salary, and everything to do with his ceiling.

    While the Bulls are more than happy to throw Carlos Boozer under the bus in favor of Gibson, the fact is, he is not the better player, merely the cheaper one.

    And such a notion stretches beyond surface numbers. Sure, Gibson averaged just 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.4 minutes per game last season, posting a16.90 PER in the process. That's respectable, right?

    Yes, it is, but Gibson is hardly a future star, or someone Chicago can build around.

    Not only was his defensive rebounding rate (16.7) well behind Boozer's (25.2), but he knocked down just 41.2 percent of his shots from between three and nine feet away, and 37.2 percent between 10 and 15 percent.

    Boozer, by comparison, shot 53.8 and 43.3 percent from those distances.

    But Gibson's a better defender, isn't he? To an extent, yes. He's definitely more mobile, but while he blocks more shots, Boozer forces more steals.

    To be fair, I'm not saying Gibson is a bad athlete, because he's not. And yes, he is still developing—though Boozer posted much better numbers by his third season—but he is rapidly becoming overrated.

    He already seems to mean so much to Chicago's blueprint when, after three seasons, it's clear he's not going to be a star or even a viable pillar.

    So, let's stop treating him like him one.

1. Ben Gordon, SG, Charlotte Bobcats

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    2012-13 Salary: $12,400,000

    2013 Free-Agency Status: Unrestricted (Player Option)

    Overvalued

    Ben Gordon was once a prolific scorer, but that was about three years and two teams ago.

    Now, the guard merely provides an offensive punch worthy of a player being paid less than half of what he is.

    So, while he is still liable to catch fire, his scoring output has continued to diminish since leaving Chicago, and he's become even more of a defensive liability, and even less of passer.

    And as he approaches 30, it's unlikely that he'll be able to reverse such an alarming trend.

    Simply put, at this stage of his career, 12.5 points and 2.4 assists per game is as good as it's going to get for Gordon.

    Which is why you shouldn't expect him to pass on the $13.2 million player option he has coming to him next summer.

     

     

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