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NBA Free Agents 2013: Polarizing Players Who Will Create Buzz This Summer

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 21:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 21, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMay 15, 2013

Some players have the talent to not only dominate the NBA, but single-handedly take over games night in and night out.

Yet, despite putting up big numbers or showing stretches of brilliance, they never seem to live up to their full potential. 

There are several big names set to become free agents this summer. Here are the most polarizing players who will ignite discussion in NBA circles.

 

Dwight Howard, C

You can't get more polarizing than Dwight Howard. 

The 265-pound big man averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals this season while shooting 58 percent from the floor.

On the other hand, he shot 49 percent from the free-throw line, which is more damaging considering opponents resorted in playing Hack-A-Dwight down the stretch in close games, forcing him to convert from the charity stripe. He averaged the second-most free-throw attempts per game, and that's not simply because of his athleticism.

Also, despite his eye-popping numbers, Howard only registered a PER of 19.4, which ranked 35th among all players who had appeared in more than 29 games, via Basketball-Reference.com.

Perhaps the biggest issue for his critics is that he appeared to take plays off during the season, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The question is, is he a winner?

 

Andrew Bynum, C

Andrew Bynum averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while shooting 56 percent from the field during the 2011-12 campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers. His PER of 22.9 ranked 10th among all players who appeared in more than three games.

But despite being just 25 years old, Bynum has already suffered several big injuries. After being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in August, the condition to both of his knees had worsened. He finally elected to have arthroscopic surgery on both knees in March, never playing a single game for the 76ers.

Beyond being injury-prone, Bynum has also been known as a headcase throughout his career, both on and off the floor. His maturity level is questionable, at best.

 

Josh Smith, F

The name "Josh Smith" tends to ignite discussion just upon uttering it. He has all the physical tools and skills to dominate the NBA, but his shot selection can be poor for long stretches.

Despite shooting 31 percent from mid-range this season, Smith elected to jack up 4.4 shots per game from that range, via NBA.com. That ranked inside the top 50 in the NBA.

What's even more astonishing is that he continues to be stubborn taking fade-away jumpers when he converted an amazing 73 percent of his shots from inside the restricted area (ranked seventh among players who attempted at least two shots per game in that range), via NBA.com.

Yet, despite all of this, he averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals during the 2012-13 campaign. 

 

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