Hidden Gems Still on 2013 NBA Free-Agency Market
Once the stars are off the NBA free-agent market, it's all about finding the hidden gems who can provide teams with tremendous value while signing cheap deals.
These gems are often hidden beneath various types of dirt.
Some players are already on the decline thanks to the relentless attacks of Father Time. Their age prevents teams from giving them serious looks until it's too late. Others might not have had the most successful season during 2012-13, but they're poised to bounce back or break out for various reasons.
Additionally, some players don't play a glamorous style of basketball, which keeps them from standing out until you take the time to look past the dunks and flashy plays to notice them.
Once teams clear off the dirt, each of these gems will shine in 2013-14. Assuming, of course, that each lands in a good situation.
Will your team uncover one of them?
Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference.
Last Team: Toronto Raptors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks, 12.6 PER
Ever since joining the Toronto Raptors after a long stint playing abroad, Alan Anderson has bounced in and out of the starting lineup—depending on teammates' injuries—and remained a consistently productive offensive player. If he could show just a bit more restraint shooting the ball, he'd be a solid starting wing player.
When he's slashing to the basket, he's terrific. Elsewhere, he struggles with his handles and passing skills.
But playing him to his strengths gives a team a solid scoring option off the bench and a fantastic perimeter defender. According to 82games, Anderson allowed opposing small forwards to post a 10.6 PER during the 2012-13 season, down 0.1 from his first go-around north of the border.
It's hard to find such a capable defender this late in the proceedings for this cheap.
Last Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 3.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks, 10.0 PER
Ronnie Brewer just hasn't been the same since leaving the Utah Jazz during the 2009-10 season when he was traded for a future first-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies. The swingman thrived as an underrated starter in Salt Lake City, but he's failed to get on a consistent run since then.
Brewer struggled during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but part of the problem was Scott Brooks. The head coach has always been notoriously consistent with his rotations, and he didn't want to insert Brewer into them after acquiring him midway through the 2012-13 season.
As a result, Brewer played only 10.1 minutes per game with the Thunder and never developed a rhythm on the court.
Given an opportunity, the Arkansas product can show he still has a lot of value. He excels as a defender, one who can capably slow down either shooting guards or small forwards.
Brewer's field-goal percentage has also been correlated with his playing time throughout his professional career, so there's a solid chance he could remember how to play offense if he were given an opportunity to do so.
Last Team: Atlanta Hawks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 15.8 PER
If NBA teams signed players solely for their ability to terrify people in a dark alley, Ivan Johnson would be getting a max contract. Few players can inspire the fear that the 29-year-old forward does, due primarily to the combination of his intense look, his physical playing style and his history.
Fortunately, Ivan hasn't been banned from the NBA for life like he was from the Korean Basketball League.
The man with the diamond grill is a relentless energy guy off the bench who shows no fear in the face of even the toughest matchups. He made the Atlanta Hawks significantly better on defense during the 2012-13 season, as NBA's statistical databases showed the team allowed 2.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when Johnson was on the court.
Johnson will never be much of an offensive threat, but his energy and enthusiasm can be contagious, particularly on the less glamorous end of the court.
Last Team: San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.0 blocks, 11.6 PER
Gary Neal struggled to show his value throughout the 2013 postseason, but he exploded during the NBA Finals when he torched the Miami Heat a few times.
Going into the final series of the season, Neal was averaging 5.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game on 36.4 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from behind the arc. Those numbers paled in comparison to the Finals stats: 9.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists per contest on 41.4 percent shooting from the floor and a staggering 46.7 percent from downtown.
Neal will never be a consistent offensive presence, but he's capable of explosions. An irrational confidence guy, the shooting guard will never stop shooting because he genuinely believes he'll make everything he attempts.
Moreover, there isn't a certain offensive role he needs to be confined to.
Neal is perfectly capable of playing backup point guard if he needs to, although shooting guard is still his natural—and best—position. He's also comfortable in catch-and-shoot situations or creating his own shot off the dribble, so he can play alongside just about any guard.
Last Team: Washington Wizards
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, 12.5 PER
A.J. Price should never be a team's starting point guard, but he's more than capable of thriving off the bench. Teams could do far worse when looking for a backup at the 1.
The 26-year-old floor general excels running pick-and-roll sets, and he loves nothing more than letting it fly right after he brushes shoulders with the screening man. In the past, that led to inefficient play, but Price showed significant improvement from downtown during the 2012-13 season.
Going into his first season with the Washington Wizards, Price had shot just 30.9 percent from behind the three-point arc during his career. But in the nation's capital, he shattered that mark. Despite taking more attempts than ever before, the former Connecticut Husky drilled 35 percent of his attempts.
If that's not a one-season fluke, Price will prove to be a dynamic offensive spark plug off the pine. He's also a pretty solid passer, though he'll never blow you away with his distributing abilities.
Last Team: Orlando Magic
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.0 blocks, 14.3 PER
Beno Udrih didn't play enough to qualify for the leaderboard during the 2012-13 season, but he would have finished 17th in the NBA in terms of assist percentage had he been eligible. For a player who had to develop chemistry with new teammates midway through the year, that's quite impressive.
The 31-year-old is an effective scorer when his three-point stroke is on, and he's always a quality distributor who runs the offense with ease. Udrih may not be a glamorous player, but he can get the job done.
He's also developed into a solid defender as his NBA career has progressed. Udrih is capable of slowing down even the best guards, particularly when he plays shooting guard.
Much like A.J. Price, Udrih is a great fit as a backup guard, especially because he has such a cheap price tag attached to him.
Last Team: Dallas Mavericks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.2 blocks, 21.0 PER
Brandan Wright has two primary assets on the basketball court.
The first is his remarkable athleticism and length. He's able to convert that into a knack for blocking shots, although he's still prone to challenging anything and everything in his general area. Wright has developed into a solid finisher around the basket, also aided by his hops.
Secondly, the 25-year-old big man is very aware of his limitations. He doesn't try to force the issue when opportunity isn't knocking.
He shot 59.7 percent during the 2012-13 season, which was actually down from the year before. Wright just rarely attempts bad shots.
The big man also displays tremendous care for the rock; he averaged only 0.5 turnovers per game for the Mavericks this past year. His sparkling 7.1 turnover percentage would have trailed only Steve Novak had he used enough possessions to qualify for the rankings.