NBA Free Agency 2013: Most Intriguing Under-the-Radar Players on Open Market
The 2013 NBA offseason has been highlighted by countless high-profile players signing massive contracts with new teams. From Dwight Howard's signing with the Houston Rockets to Andre Iguodala's contract with the Golden State Warriors, we've seen it all.
The question is: Who are the most intriguing remaining on a perceived-to-be desolate open market?
There are big-name players remaining on the market, with star guards Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague and big men Andrew Bynum and Nikola Pekovic highlighting the available crop of free agents. With that being said, there are players of a lower profile who can provide a valuable presence to a postseason contender.
Players who deserve more credit than they receive.
Fortunately, those players will join a franchise before free agency is all said and done, as they're simply too valuable to pass over. Unfortunately, fan perception is not quite on par with their true level of ability.
So who are the players you need to know more about?
DeJuan Blair, UFA
Experience: Four seasons
2012-13 Season Averages
14.66 PER, 14.0 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 52.4% FG
DeJuan Blair has spent the first four years of his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. In that time, Blair has gone from one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2009 NBA draft to a player delegated to the back end of the bench.
Don't be foolish enough to believe that Blair is meant to be in that position.
Blair stands at 6'7" and 270 pounds with a massive 7'3" wingspan and the pure power to take on any NBA big man. On top of having supreme physical gifts, Blair has a powerful motor and has drastically improved his ability to move laterally.
For a team in need of a go-to backup big man, Blair can be that player.
The former Pittsburgh Panthers star is skilled enough around the basket to be a weapon offensively. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of his game, however, is the fact that Blair doesn't need to have plays run or designed for him.
Instead, he will crash the offensive glass and find his own looks by way of his power and effort—the type of ability that any coach would cherish. You know, outside of Gregg Popovich.
Will Bynum, UFA
Position: Point Guard
Experience: Six seasons
2012-13 Season Averages
16.62 PER, 18.8 MPG, 9.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, 1.5 RPG, 0.7 SPG
When you play for a team that routinely sits well below .500, it's hard for your abilities to garner recognition. When you're a sixth man and not a young player reaching stardom, respect is rather difficult to come by.
That's the case for Will Bynum, who would likely be in the conversation for Sixth Man of the Year if he were the backup point guard on a contender.
Bynum may not have the flashiest numbers, but he's a mature game manager with supreme open-court speed. In an era in which small-ball lineups are used during the course of games, Bynum's ability to push the pace and create for his teammates is of extreme value.
With an improving jump shot and the ability to run the pick-and-roll, Bynum truly is the complete offensive package as a second-unit point guard.
In the right situation, Bynum could earn the reputation that he's long deserved to have. While his defensive presence may be inconsistent at best, Bynum is the type of point guard that every contender needs on their bench.
Someone will make him just that.
Andrei Kirilenko, UFA
Position: Small Forward
Experience: 11 seasons
2012-13 Season Averages
17.67 PER, 12.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.0 BPG
If this were 2011, Andrei Kirilenko would likely be in the market for a massive contract with big money and extensive length attached to it. After all, he's a former All-Star and a three-time All-Defensive Team selection, and as a small forward, he once led the NBA in blocks per game.
The question is: Who lied to the NBA and said that he lost a step?
Kirilenko was hidden within the Minnesota Timberwolves' organization, thus forcing most around the league to believe that he's no longer a top-tier two-way player. While his age may restrict a long-term contract, his abilities suggest that he is significantly better than some of the most highly praised second-tier stars.
The numbers may not be flashy, but Kirilenko is still an elite defender.
According to Synergy Sports, Kirilenko held opponents to 0.75 points per play on spot-up opportunities. Not only is this the most difficult shot to defend, but it's the most high-percentage for jump shooters as they shoot on the catch.
It certainly doesn't hurt that he's a two-way player who forces turnovers and provides positional versatility—so where's the type of money Andre Iguodala received?
Anthony Morrow, UFA
Position: Shooting Guard
Experience: Five seasons
24.9 MPG, 10.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 42.4% 3PT
Anthony Morrow is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA, converting a career mark of 42.4 percent from beyond the arc. At 6'5" and 210 pounds, Morrow also has one of the most prototypical NBA bodies at the shooting guard position.
That's exactly why he's an under-the-radar making his way directly into the conversation for some of the NBA's top teams.
Grizzlies, Warriors, Bobcats are latest teams to express interest in Anthony Morrow. Lakers, Spurs, Suns, Rockets, Knicks reached out too.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 7, 2013
Respect is earned, and Morrow has done just that.
Morrow possesses limitless range, knocking down the three-ball from all over the floor. Not only can he make shots from deep, but Morrow is capable of pulling up in transition and has improved his ball-handling.
He may not have the name value of Kyle Korver, but you're getting similar value here.
Morrow is likely to sign on with a contender that needs shooters, and there are quite a few of those. Not only can Morrow provide a reliable shooting stroke, but he's scored in double-digits in all but one of his seasons in the NBA.
Give Morrow the ball, and something positive will transpire—it's time the NBA recognizes him as the offensive weapon he has become.
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