NBA Free Agents 2011: 10 Impact Players Teams Should Consider Signing
Impact free agents in the NBA are vital to long-term success. Who are the best available in free agency?
Even though we're in the second NBA lockout of my lifetime, it doesn't mean that we the fans have to sit on our hands and wait.
We can pontificate. We can predict. We can project. We can play the part of GM.
Continue on to see my top 10 available free agents—restricted and unrestricted—and enjoy the surprise ending!
If you look at Shannon Brown's numbers as a Los Angeles Laker last year, you'll be pretty underwhelmed.
He racked up 8.7 points, 1.2 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game. Those are hardly "playmaker" numbers.
But alas! When you multiply those stats at to a starter's 40 minutes per game, you'd see a huge difference. Brown, a back up on the vaunted Laker team, only played 19.1 minutes per game.
His stats become 18.2 points, 2.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. Suddenly, Brown seems like a quality option at the two guard.
Aaron Brooks broke out during the 2009-10 season with the Houston Rockets.
Right when it seemed as though he was going to take his three-point shooting prowess to the next level, he experienced an injury-filled 2010-11 season and was traded to the Phoenix Suns.
Though he only missed about a month due to a sprained ankle, it was clear that he was never 100 percent healthy.
With a full offseason to recover, Brooks should return to the 2009-10 form that saw him sink over 200 three pointers.
Jamal Crawford is the ultimate man off the bench.
The fact that the Atlanta Hawks' taking off as an Eastern Conference power aligns with Crawford's tenure with the team is not a coincidence.
He is a natural scorer and hasn't had a season below 14.0 points per game since 2003-04. Crawford comes off the bench, yet still plays around 30 minutes per game, indicating his appreciation for his role.
At 31 years old, Crawford is still a pretty shifty playmaker, too.
A former New York Knick and current restricted free agent with the Denver Nuggets, Chandler is one of those players that fills up each area of the stat sheet and thus the game itself.
His stats last year were 15.3 points, 1.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game. He affects all areas of the game—offense and defense—similar to a LeBron.
No, I'm not saying Chandler is as good King James, but his on-court contributions are similar.
David West is one of the best scoring power forwards in the NBA and is the best of the available free agents.
His 18.9 points per game last year were the eighth most of any power forward, and the New Orleans Hornets really missed him when he went down in late March with an ACL tear.
The NBA game is becoming more dynamic for low-post players, and guys like West, who already have a great scoring game, are to be highly valued as playmakers.
The youthful Georgia Tech product would be a great signing if a team can steal him away from the Philadelphia 76ers.
His game is just taking off, his having scored three years in a row even though he lost his starting job this past season. He took a small step back, but with the right coaching could become a quality forward.
At 23 years old, Young is already a mature player and shoots high-percentage shots, to a clip of 54.1 percent from the field in 2010-11.
Glen "Big Baby" Davis is growing up right before Boston Celtics fans' eyes.
He's an unrestricted free agent, but I think the Celtics absolutely have to sign him back. He's just beginning to mesh with the other players in Boston, and the team needs to keep some of its youth.
Davis averaged double-digit scoring numbers for the first time in his career last year. In fact, Big Baby reached career highs in nearly every measurable stat due to his large increase in minutes per game.
He handled the extra time well. He can be a starter in the NBA.
Jason Richardson is really under appreciated as a playmaker in the NBA. The guy is an electric dunker if nothing else!
To be redundant, a playmaker makes plays. Richardson has great athleticism, as displayed by his being a two-time NBA Dunk Contest Champion. He also has a great perimeter game, shooting over 38 percent from behind the arc in seven of the past eight years.
He's an offensive force to be reckoned with.
Since leaving Golden State, Richardson has had trouble finding his groove, but I think that has more to do with playing with commanding point guards like Steve Nash and Jameer Nelson than his skills.
If he can find a good fit in free agency, a resurrection could be in order.
This is my dark-horse playmaker of the free-agent market. Can't lie, either: I got to know him last season after adding him onto my fantasy basketball team.
Marcus Thornton is an incredible scorer, and he showed what he can do after he was traded mid-season to the Sacramento Kings.
He went from 7.8 points per game with the New Orleans Hornets to 21.3 points per game with the Kings, including an outstanding 42-point performance.
This guy can really play. Sacramento needs to resign him, but if they don't, why don't the Chicago Bulls? They'd be even more powerful with him and Derrick Rose.
Did I say that Marcus Thornton is my dark horse? Never mind that. It's got to be Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden.
I don't need to say much about Oden because you've heard it all. He was the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Kevin Durant was the second. Ouch!
He has played just 82 games in four seasons in the NBA. Yes, that's one season's worth of games in four NBA calendar years. His age is just 23, but his face and knees are more like 53.
Oden started the 2010-11 season off great, averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. One of those games was a huge double-double against the Chicago Bulls, in which Oden scored 24 points and drew in 12 rebounds.
His knees got the better of him, though.
If—and that's a big "if"—Oden can get healthy and stay healthy, he'll be one of the great playmaking centers in the game.
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