NBA Free Agents 2011: The 10 Best Players Under the Radar
Everyone knows about the big-name free agents on the market (probably because there are very few), but it is usually the unsung heros that make the biggest difference over the course of an entire season.
These are the guys that are your role players, backups, and hard workers, just looking for a chance or their first big break. They don't need a ton of money, but often times, they play like they deserve it.
Here are the 10 best unrestricted free agents under the radar that your team should be looking at.
10. Troy Murphy
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Upside: Very good rebounder who can expand the floor and knock down open threes. He runs the floor well, and though not very athletic, has a good basketball IQ and is great off the bench.
Downside: He is slow, and at 31, is not getting any faster. His best days appear to be behind him, though there is still reason to believe that he can contribute as a role player.
Baggage: He has miles on the tires and his one year spent between NJ and Boston was not promising. At this point, nothing more than an eighth or ninth man off the bench.
9. Kurt Thomas
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Upside: Skilled veteran who can play 10-15 tough minutes a game and can expand himself when needed. After stepping in to start 37 games for the Bulls last season, it looks like he hasn't lost it entirely. Just feed him the ball on the elbow and watch him work.
Downside: At 39 years of age and 17 NBA seasons, Thomas is not going to "wow" you anymore. His team will hope that he doesn't break down during the season.
Baggage: He is very old and is only fit for a few teams.
8. T.J. Ford
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Upside: Great asset as a potential backup point guard and spot starter. Ford will give you good minutes when healthy and can certainly run an offense if given the opportunity.
Downside: Injuries plagued his tenure in Indiana. It is hard to image he receives more than a one year contract from any team, all of whom will proceed with caution. He would be a great addition for the Miami Heat.
Baggage: Injuries and poor three-point shooting.
7. Willie Green
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Upside: Big, durable shooting guard who hits a decent percentage of his three-pointers. Can be streaky at times. He is not the type of player that needs the ball in his hands every play and is a nice player off the bench.
Downside: There isn't much room for improvement here. Though he has averaged in double figures twice in his career, at this point Green is just another player at the end of your bench.
Baggage: He needs the minutes to really make an impact.
6. Michael Redd
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Upside: Redd is coming off the worst season of his career in which he only played 10 games due to injury. If put in the right place, where he doesn't need to do too much besides shoot, he can be an effective man off of many contenders' benches.
Downside: He has only played 61 games in three seasons. This should be alarming for anyone who is looking to take a chance on him, despite averaging 20 ppg for his career. The worst thing that can happen is you cut him midway through the season.
Baggage: Spaghetti knees.
5. Sasha Vujacic
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Upside: When given the minutes, he had very impressive flashes for the New Jersey Nets. On a team like the Lakers, he was buried behind tons of talent, yet still was a contributor. He is a great spot-up shooter and can create his own shot once in a while.
Downside: He is as good as the jumpshots that he hits. Don't count on him to change your organization around. Someone had to score for the Nets, right?
Baggage: Hot girlfriend and streaky shooting.
4. Chuck Hayes
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Upside: Though he is only 6'6'', Hayes is a formidable force down low. He is not a selfish player and will accept any role that you give him.
Downside: His skills are not wonderful and most of his points are going to come off of good passes and offensive rebounds. It doesn't mean he can't play, but he is ultimately a role player.
Baggage: He is a 6'6'' center, but you can use him as you like.
3. Reggie Evans
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Upside: Evans is one of the best rebounders in the league because he works harder than most at it. If you want someone who is going to come in and give you good minutes while requiring few touches on offense, then he is a perfect fit.
Downside: His offensive game is abysmal.
Baggage: Two injury-plagued seasons in Toronto and no assurance that he is 100%.
2. Anthony Parker
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Upside: For Parker, the upside is he gets to leave Cleveland. For his new team, they get a good shooter who plays great defense and comes with some postseason experience.
Downside: He is not going to "wow" anyone with his skillset anymore. His midrange game is very good but don't expect a ton from him.
Baggage: 36-year-old player who relies a lot on his legs.
1. Jose Juan Barea
Upside: In the prime of his career at 27, Barea is a great backup point guard and possibly a starter very soon. He can drive to the basket and finish amongst the trees, and can also step back and consistently hit open jumpers.
Downside: Never has been a starter and may not be able to handle the wear and tear of more minutes and running an offense. He is used to coming in as a change of pace guard.
Baggage: May not be as effective with everyone zoning in on him.