NBA Free Agents 2013: Players Who Have Boosted Their Stock Down the Stretch
Players can make a lot of dough by turning it on down the stretch of their contract year.
Several 2013 NBA free agents are producing late this season, which should make them highly-coveted players once they hit the market.
These players range from guards to forwards to centers, exhibiting a variety of skills that would intrigue any team.
Here's a look at players who have boosted their stock down the stretch of the 2012-13 NBA campaign.
Josh Smith, F, Atlanta Hawks
Josh Smith's shot selection has been questioned for years—and, let's face it, he's never going to change in that regard—but, the fact of the matter is, he's still a very valuable player overall.
Smith has averaged 17.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals while shooting 47 percent this season, exhibiting the versatility to his game. He's an asset on both sides of the floor and his ability to defend multiple positions makes him even more valuable.
After trading away Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams—and losing Lou Williams to a season-ending knee injury in January—the Hawks have somehow made it into the playoffs with ease. A large part of that has to do with Smith, who posted a combined 52 points, 18 rebounds, three blocks and five steals against the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks before injuring his knee against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta Hawks
After a promising 2011-12 campaign, Jeff Teague has blossomed in his fourth year in the league.
Teague is averaging a career-high 14.9 points and 7.2 assists, as well as 1.5 steals. He's shooting 45 percent from the floor, 36 percent from downtown and 88 percent from the free-throw line.
That includes averaging 15.3 points, 7.8 assists and 1.5 steals after the All-Star break (he posted 24 points and 10 assists against the Bucks last Friday).
The Wake Forest product has come into his own. While he's not a star yet, he's progressing rapidly. Expect the Hawks to do everything in their power to keep the 24-year-old.
David West, PF, Indiana Pacers
At 32 years of age, David West continues to prove that he's, well, ageless.
West has averaged 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals this season while shooting 50 percent from the floor. That includes averaging 16.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 54 percent from the field after the All-Star break.
West has provided the scoring, rebounding, defense and leadership pivotal to Indiana's run to the playoffs this season. He's a player anybody would love to have, but I don't think the Pacers are going to let him go in free agency. He's become such a valuable piece to the team.
Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
After a solid campaign in 2011-12, Nikola Pekovic has blossomed this season, averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 52 percent from the floor. That includes averaging 17.3 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field after the All-Star break.
Among all players who have played more than 29 games this season, Pekovic ranks 23rd in PER, via Basketball-Reference.com. He's been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota lacks any legit options to replace Pekovic—who is a restricted free agent this summer—so expect the club to pay him big money in the offseason.
Jarrett Jack, G, Golden State Warriors
The play of Stephen Curry has overshadowed just about everybody on the Warriors, but that's particularly true for Jarrett Jack.
Jack, who has started 252 games in his career, has been coming off the bench as the Warriors' Sixth Man. In turn, the combo guard has averaged 12.9 points, 5.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 41 percent from downtown.
The eighth-year veteran's ability to defend both guard positions has been immensely helpful to a team that has improved on defense this season. He's also stepped up down the stretch in countless games, displaying his clutch ability.
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