NBA Free Agency 2011: 5 Role Players That Can Be the Difference for Your Team
There are teams this offseason that may overpay for the bigger names out there in hopes of making big statements for their fan base and potentially making a huge impact in the win column.
As we learned from the past though, overpaying for free agents is not the answer.
Yes, this offseason does have its share of names, which include Marc Gasol, Nene, Jamal Crawford and David West.
Teams with the necessary cap space may overpay for the above, but it will be the teams that make the smaller, frugal, yet smarter signings this offseason that will be the winners of the 2011 shortened offseason.
The following free agents could be had for a relatively cheap price and may make a key impact for their future teams.
Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Despite being a solid scorer and long distance marksman over his career, these slides will tell the advanced stats stories on some of these key role players, starting with Mike.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. had a 5.74 net plus/minus score, meaning last season, Indiana was six points better with him on the floor than off it.
Besides being the shooter we all have seen from Mike, Dunleavy Jr. also is a strong rebounder for a wing. He had a total rebounding rate (percentage of available rebounds collected) of 9.1, which ranked eighth amongst rotational wings in the league.
Mike would work best with a contending team that needs some shooting in their rotation at a wing slot. Such a need applies to every team, which shows you the underrated value of a player like Mike Dunleavy Jr.
If we look at the rebounding rate stat, no one has made more appearances in the top 5 over the last half-decade than journeyman Reggie Evans.
Reggie typically collects roughly a quarter of the rebounds available when he is in the game. His numbers stayed right in that range last season, with a total rebounding rate of 25.7.
To put that rebounding prowess in comparison, that number led the league last season. Yes, Reggie Evans had a higher rebounding rate than Kevin Love (23.6), Dwight Howard (21.9) and Tyson Chandler (19.6).
Many teams could use a rebounding staple like Evans, especially at his going rate, which will be far lower than other more highly regarded names.
Don't let that look of a scientist fool you, Krylo could have a huge impact as a pivotal backup center for a team in this league.
Krylo may be better known by some of you for the role he played on Utah's playoff team of several seasons ago. Fesenko was thrown into a first round playoff series against the Nuggets and handled himself nicely, filling in as a low post presence and a defensive stalwart.
Let's focus more on the advanced stats of his defense in particular.
While Krylo's scoring or rebounding totals won't wow anyone, even when we focus on the advanced metrics of those facets, it is his plus/minus numbers on the defensive end that have been impressive throughout his career.
Last season, while in Utah, the Jazz allowed 12 fewer points per 100 possessions when Fesenko was on the floor versus when he was off it.
Earl is 35 years old and has been in the league in some role or another for 13 seasons. Needless to say, he's been an impressive athlete, considering his small stature.
After his impressive performance as the Bucks' backup point guard last season, Earl has proven that big impacts can still come in older and tinier sizes.
Last season, Earl averaged over seven points and two assists per game.
Earl also managed an assist-to-turnover rate of over 2.7, and according to the plus/minus stat, the Bucks were 4.2 points better with him on the court versus off it.
Clearly, many other point guards in their primes may get larger checks this offseason, but if your team is looking for a solid backup floor leader with veteran experience who would sign for the minimum, look no further than the other Earl "The Pearl."
Finally, a name many recognize: the Great Sammy D.
Dalembert makes this list, since he may be an afterthought for some teams at the center position.
Teams that are looking to fulfill their center slot will initially look at the bigger names in the market, like Nene, Tyson Chandler or Marc Gasol or could take a shot at a player that gets amnestied, like Andris Biedrins, Brendan Haywood or Mehmet Okur.
In terms of getting bang for your buck, Dalembert may be the preferable choice.
It is unlikely Sacramento will look to retain him, with the development of DeMarcus Cousins. He has proven to be a defensive and rebounding force in this league over the course of his nine-year career.
Last season was no different for Sammy, as he had a similar total rebounding rate (19.3) to that of Tyson Chandler (19.6).
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