NBA Free Agents 2011: Power Ranking the Top Bench Options on the Market
Maybe it's a good thing the NBA lockout lasted so long and ultimately led to a shortened offseason. Truth be told, this year's free-agent market isn't exactly up to the task of making things interesting.
At least not when you compare this year's free agent market to last year's, which was chock-full of stars eager to make life-changing decisions.
One of them even got an hour-long special, which you probably heard about.
However, the one thing I will say about this year's free-agent crop is that it's not that bad for teams looking to stock their benches. There are a couple of really good sixth men to be found.
Let's count them down, shall we? Here are the five best bench players on the free-agent market.
Honorable Mention: Kris Humphries, PF
I can't tell you how good it feels to be writing about Humphries' basketball career again. Writing about his personal life wasn't nearly as much fun.
In any case, the reason I'm adding Humphries on here as an honorable mention is because he's closer to being a starter than he is to being a bench player. He would be an outstanding option coming off the bench for a contender, but he'll be looking for more of a starring role, not to mention the money that comes with it.
We'll see where Humphries ends up, but he'll probably end up getting too many starts to be called a bench player.
5. Glen Davis, F/C
You're not going to find a better source of comedy than Big Baby, but he deserves props for his versatility coming off the bench. The Boston Celtics have used Davis in a variety of ways during his tenure, and he has always performed capably.
We all know Davis is a big dude, but he moves surprisingly well. He's also a surprisingly good defender, an attribute that he owes to the Celtics' defensive attitude. Davis can also score a few points here and there, and he's pretty good at knocking down mid-range jumpers.
It's just too bad Big Baby is a sub-par rebounder.
Still, any team looking for a versatile forward could do worse than Big Baby.
4. Carl Landry, F
Carl Landry is smaller than your average power forward, but the dude can play. He can score in the paint and is ferocious on the offensive glass. He'll shoot a few too many jumpers, but that's something teams should be willing to live with.
The thing you have to like about Landry is that he'll fit in just about anywhere. His skills can be adapted to any system, which pretty much makes him an option for everyone.
I also think you have to look at Landry as a high-ceiling player. He's been in the league for four seasons now, and he could very well be coming into his prime.
3. Shane Battier, SF
Shane Battier has been a starter his whole career, but it's time for him to go chase a championship and the best way for him to do that is to accept a job as a role player for a contender.
Ideally, Battier will land on a team where he can hang out on the perimeter and wait for open threes. He's one of the deadliest players in the league from the corner, and you could see him knocking down a lot of those shots this year.
Of course, Battier is also an above-average defender. It's therefore no wonder that he has emerged as a prime target for the Miami Heat (see the South Florida Sun Sentinel).
2. J.J. Barea, PG
My biggest concern with J.J. Barea is that some team will give him a fat contract based off his postseason success and then trust him with starting duties.
That's not what Barea is meant for. He's a classic spark-plug player best served coming off the bench, and he could certainly repeat the success he had with the Dallas Mavericks if he ends up on the right team. Put enough shooters around Barea, and he'll find open lanes and cut to the basket.
Beyond that, Barea isn't capable of much, but compared to the other point guards on the market, he's easily the best option for teams looking for bench upgrades.
1. Jamal Crawford, SG
Does Jamal Crawford deserve to start?
If you're looking to upgrade your bench, you're not going to do any better than Jamal Crawford, the 2010 Sixth Man of the Year.
Crawford regressed slightly this past season, but he still brings an impressive bag of tricks to the table. He can handle the rock as well as anyone and will frustrate defenders. That's part of the reason he's so good at drawing fouls and getting to the line.
Any team that signs Crawford will have to put up with poor defense and nonexistent rebounding skills, but at least he'll put the ball in the basket.
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