NBA Free Agency 2013: Underrated Players Still Available
Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard.
Now that I've gotten your attention, let's talk about someone else.
Don't get me wrong—Howard is an elite talent and franchise center. He was one of the two most important free agents of this class and deserved a bunch of the attention.
But as the circus surrounding the Summer of Dwight grew exponentially larger since the start of free agency just five days ago, we began to forget about some of the available role players—the type of unsung guys who can prove vital to a championship run.
Now that Howard-mania has come to a close and the market is somewhat set, we can start paying attention to the players flying under the radar.
Let's take a look.
Nate Robinson, PG
Why not start the "let's-look-past-Dwight" list with the guy who boasts a picture of himself blocking Mr. Superman on his Instagram:
Filling in for the injured Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich last season, Nate Robinson compiled one of the best seasons of his eight-year career, averaging 13.1 points, 4.4 assists and 1.0 steals in 25.4 minutes per contest.
He also knocked down 1.7 threes on 40.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
You aren't going to confuse Nate Rob with an all-around, full-time starting point guard. His size limits him defensively, and he can be erratic on offense.
But the latter is part of what makes him so great. He's a ball of energy who provides instant offense, an exhilarating spark and an NBA-Jam like if-I-get-hot-I'm-hitting-10-in-a-row mentality.
Robinson would make any team's second unit significantly better.
Brandan Wright, PF/C
On the surface, 2012-13 looked like another disappointing season for Brandan Wright. He got just 18.0 minutes per game, averaging 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.
However, on a per-36 minute basis, those numbers skyrocket to a career-high 17.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
Defensively, Wright's worth is obvious. He's only 6'9", but his length and athleticism allow him to protect the rim at a very high level.
Offensively, he is consistently improving. He shot 59.7 percent from the field last season, showcasing the ability to finish around the hoop while quietly knocking down the mid-range jumper—48.8 percent from 10-to-15 feet and 55.0 from 16-to-23 feet, albeit in a limited sample size:
It's time to stop thinking of Wright as a former No. 8 pick.
But while he isn't going to live up to that high draft status, he is a very valuable big man.
Greg Oden, C
He may look like he's about 47 years old, but Greg Oden is still just 25.
As a former No. 1 overall pick who played just 82 games and could never stay healthy, Oden is the butt of many jokes. But there is very little downside here.
Which player will present the best value in 2013-14?
He won't cost much, and at the very worst, he signs a minuscule deal and isn't healthy enough to make a significant contribution. Oh well.
At the best, though, he'll add elite defense and rebounding for an incredible discount. During his time with Portland, he averaged a spectacular 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes, with those numbers skyrocketing in his second season.
Oden has never been void of talent. If he proves to be healthy, whoever signs him will be pulling off a coup.
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