NBA Free Agency 2014: Breaking Down Under-the-Radar Players Still Available

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2014

Golden State Warriors' Jordan Crawford (55) puts up a shot against Indiana Pacers' Roy Hibbert (55) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

It may seem this way following the rush of free-agent signings after LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony made their decisions, but the well is not dry on available players in the NBA offseason.

Sure, the A-listers are off the board, but nobody wins a championship with one or two star players only anyway. Picking up a critical role player between now and November could give a contender or two the piece it needs to get over the top. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the under-the-radar players who are still on the market.


Jordan Crawford 

Ben Margot/Associated Press

In Jordan Crawford, we are talking about a guy who certainly generated plenty of buzz earlier in the offseason, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports noted:

Still, nobody has pulled the trigger on the guard yet.

Crawford averaged 11 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds a night for the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics in 2013-14 and can stretch the defense by hitting the three-pointer. If nothing else, he can be an offensive boost off the bench for a team looking for scoring.

In fact, there are a number of top teams in the league that are so reliant on their defense that they don’t have all the scoring needed to make a deep run. It would make some sense if these squads at least kicked the tires on Crawford this late in the offseason as a valuable part of a backcourt rotation. 

He is only 25 years old, so there are theoretically a number of productive seasons on the horizon. He likely hasn’t even hit his prime yet, so whichever squad lands Crawford for cheap this offseason could have a solid contributor off the bench at a bargain price.


Andray Blatche

Andray Blatche posted nightly averages of 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and one steal per game last year for the Brooklyn Nets behind 47.6 percent shooting from the field. Those numbers may not be eye-popping, but you would figure some team could find room for a double-digit scorer on the block.

Blatche is 27 years old but has been in the league for nine seasons, so he is a veteran with critical experience and somewhat of a fresh body. However, durability has been an issue at times (he failed to reach 75 games played in six different seasons).

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Blatche checks in at 6’11” and 260 pounds and isn’t afraid to mix it up down low to come away with rebounds and loose balls. He fights through contact and is a solid free-throw shooter for his size (72.5 percent in his career) as well. 

There is always room in the NBA for a physical presence who can protect the rim against opposing superstars. Blatche certainly fits that bill.


Shawn Marion

Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

It may seem strange to call Shawn Marion under the radar considering he was once a star in this league. Still, many people simply write him off at this stage of his career when we are talking about potential NBA contributors next season.

Yes, Marion is 36 years old, but he averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds a night last season for the Dallas Mavericks. He may not be the double-double threat he was every single night when he was in his prime, but his veteran leadership, length and solid defense make him an intriguing option.

That defense should not be overlooked, and Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson commented on it recently, via Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

That he guarded the toughest dude out there every night. He had to guard Kobe [Bryant]. He had to guard Kevin Durant. And he had to cover LeBron [James]. He did all that and did a terrific job for us.

We’re definitely not sipping from the cup without him. 

It is not difficult to envision a scenario where Marion signs with a contender and provides 15-20 minutes of formidable defense and timely rebounding every night on the way to the postseason. In a grueling NBA season, depth is key, and Marion would be a solid pickup for anyone.


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