NBA Free Agents 2011: 8 Most Underrated Players on the Market
The most underrated free agents in the 2011 class can really influence the landscape of the NBA.
Every season, there are invariably some players who slip through the cracks and wind up looking like major value deals for the teams that were willing to take a gamble.
Although the current crop isn't heralded to the extent that some others have been in the past, there are a lot of intriguing options for teams looking to strike quickly and take a chance on a short-term deal.
Teams won't have to break the bank to make an impact prior to the 2011-12 season getting underway.
8. T.J. Ford, Point Guard
Ford didn't get a lot of playing time in Indiana due to the team's youth movement, but he's still capable of contributing in the right situation.
Still just 28 years old, Ford can absolutely add value to the right roster for a team that needs some help at the point guard position, and there are a plethora of clubs that fit that description.
He'd be an excellent addition to a team like Miami or Los Angeles (Lakers) as a reserve in the second unit, and he's unlikely to come at a major cost.
7. Tracy McGrady, Guard/Forward
McGrady showed everybody that he can still play last season with Detroit, and he illustrated his versatility lining up at a variety of positions for the Pistons.
Although he was able to stay healthy and has seemingly turned a corner with his chronic knee woes, most clubs are going to be hesitant about committing more than just a single season to the veteran scorer.
He'd really flourish in a reserve role as the anchor of a second unit for a team that is looking to add a spark, and it will certainly be interesting to monitor which teams are interested in courting him as the free agency process unfolds.
6. Shannon Brown, Shooting Guard
Brown lost some of his luster last year despite playing in all 82 regular season games for the Lakers for the second straight campaign, but there's plenty to be excited about here.
He'll be 26 when the season gets underway, and Brown's athleticism paired with an improved shooting stroke should have several clubs interested in what he could provide in the future.
He's likely to net a multi-year pact after opting out of the final season of his deal with the Lakers, but his stock will be among the most volatile, as some will view him as a potential starter while others might believe his ceiling is as a reserve.
5. Chuck Hayes, Power Forward/Center
Hayes isn't going to be looked at in the same light as some other available big men because he is so undersized, but he played well in the middle for Houston last season.
Despite being just 6'6" and 240 lbs, Hayes made his presence felt down low and in 63 games as a starter averaged 8.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest.
There are plenty of teams that could use help along the front line, but it's possible that teams interested in his services may view him as more of an option at power forward rather than center.
4. Carl Landry, Forward
Landry has been underrated for the entire duration of his career heretofore, but that's something subject to change this offseason.
Playing time has always been Landry's biggest adversary, but he has consistently delivered when given the opportunity, and he's one of the toughest players that the league has to offer.
He'll likely seek out the opportunity to earn a starting role, and teams with a starting center capable of pulling down rebounds shouldn't be hesitant in exploring that option.
3. Jason Richardson, Shooting Guard
Richardson is 30 years old and has slightly declining athleticism, but there's no question that he's still very much a force to be reckoned with at the shooting guard position.
He would make for an excellent addition to a team that's ready to compete for a title right now and with a young core of players (i.e. Chicago), but with the lack of quality talent on the wing within the free agent crop, Richardson is likely to appeal to a number of clubs.
If he's interested in accepting a sixth man role, Richardson could be looking at a number of different options for his next landing spot, but it's worth noting that he's already flirted with the idea of taking less money to play for a title contender.
2. Caron Butler, Small Forward
Butler is going to be highly undervalued because he's coming off of a season-ending knee injury, but all indications are that he's going to be at full strength and ready to contribute.
Before being sidelined, Butler was enjoying a solid regular season, but he could do even more for a team that is in greater need of offensive production from him than Dallas.
He's a nuisance at the defensive end of the court, and whichever team winds up signing him will be happy with the investment as long as the club has a firm understanding of how to utilize him.
1. David West, Power Forward
West is one of the best free agent's available, and if he weren't coming off of a season-ending knee injury of his own, there's no doubt he'd be getting discussed at a far more rapid rate.
An excellent pick n' pop player, West has quietly averaged between 18.5 and 21 points per game over the last four seasons of his career, and he's shot above 50 percent from the floor in each of the last two seasons.
He's a very cerebral player and knows when to be where on the hardwood, and his contributions on the front line could make an unbelievably big impact for the right team.
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