Predicting the Best Under-the-Radar Steals of 2013 NBA Free Agency
It seems like every year in major sports' free agency, teams offer athletes ludicrous deals that they later on regret.
In the NBA, it's true that superstars run the league. Big spending has to be done on occasion, but it's the role players and veterans who can really bring a team together.
Following the same logic that lots of players leave free agency overpaid and over-hyped, plenty also fly under the radar and turn out to be value contributors to their teams.
The following consists of those guys.
Francisco Garcia, SF
Best Role: 3-and-D rotation wing
Best Team Fit: Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls
Garcia finally escaped Sacramento last season and was a valuable piece in the Houston Rockets' playoff series.
Often asked to guard Kevin Durant during the series, Garcia proved that he's an above-average defender who can take on big challenges.
For the series, Garcia averaged 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and made 17 out of his 37 three-pointers, good for 45.9 percent.
Look for a contender like the Lakers or Bulls to sign Garcia to bolster the second unit.
Earl Clark, F
Best Role: Stretch-4 off the bench
Best Team Fit: Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors
Clark has really begun to develop his game, enough so that he added a reliable three-point shot last season.
At 6'10", Clark can play either forward position and even step in to play center at times. He's improved his outside shot and has the athleticism to get to the basket when needed.
Clark is at his best when placed next to a true center who stays in the paint. His ability to knock down a jumper prevents his defender from leaving him and trying to double-team whatever big man Clark is playing next to.
With Marc Gasol and Andrew Bogut at center, the Grizzlies and Warriors could use a stretch-4 like Clark to partner with.
Shaun Livingston, PG
Best Role: Facilitator for second unit
Best Team Fit: Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs
Livingston played very well after signing with the Cavs on Christmas last year, and proved he can still orchestrate an offense when needed.
In 49 games with the Cavs, Livingston averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 assists backing up Kyrie Irving. His 6'7" frame allows him to post up smaller guards and gives him an added advantage on defense.
Another key for Livingston is his ball control. Last season, Livingston was 11th in the entire NBA in assist to turnover ratio at 2.86. This number put him above players like Deron Williams, John Wall and Steve Nash.
With the recent trade of Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers could go after Livingston as their backup point.
Chris Copeland, SF
Best Role: Energy and offense on any unit
Best Team Fit: Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets
Copeland is a 6'8" small forward who can do a little bit of everything offensively on the court.
During his rookie season last year, Copeland averaged 8.7 points in just 15.4 minutes a game. He shot 42.1 percent from deep and had a PER of 16.89.
The Dallas Mavericks are an older team that could use his energy to kick-start their offense. The Denver Nuggets would also be a great fit, due to their rapid pace of play.
The Knicks will likely try to bring Copeland back, although there should be a good number of suitors for the athletic forward.
Samuel Dalembert, C
Best Role: Rim-protector
Best Team Fit: Miami Heat
Dalembert saw his minutes drop last season due to the emergence of Larry Sanders, but at 32 years of age remains a valuable defensive force.
A big man inside who can protect the rim is a must-have in today's NBA. Roy Hibbert torched the Miami Heat in the playoffs because they had no one to combat his size and skill.
For Miami, adding a player like Dalembert would change that. At 6'11" and 250 pounds, Dalembert is a force in the paint and on the glass. He owns career averages of 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, and has averaged as many as 2.4 blocks a game in a season.
Veteran teams that need an inside defensive presence should contact the 11-year veteran.
Matt Barnes, SF
Best Role: Tough, defensive small forward
Best Team Fit: Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers
You could say that Barnes is a California kind of guy.
The 10-year veteran was born in Santa Clara, attended UCLA and has spent the past three seasons with the Lakers and Clippers.
Why ruin a good thing?
At 33, Barnes still plays at a high level on good teams. He can guard multiple positions and has a toughness to him that all teams need from players.
His average of 10.3 points per game this past season with the Clippers was also a career high.
Tony Allen, SG
Best Role: Premier wing defender
Best Team Fit: Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks
Allen may not be an under-the-radar free agent per se, but he often gets overlooked in this year's group of players.
Able to impact a game without even scoring a point, Allen is a lock-down perimeter defender who can guard the league's best players.
He helped lead the Grizzlies to an NBA-best defense this season in which they allowed just 89.3 points per game.
Should Allen not return to the Grizz, the Milwaukee Bucks could use his services in a backcourt with Brandon Jennings. Allen and Sanders together could begin to form the same dynamic defensive combo that Allen and Marc Gasol helped build in Memphis.
Allen will only get $4-5 million a year on his next deal, but his defense alone is worth it.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!