Already into the second day of NBA free agency, here are some of the interesting unrestricted free agents:
Chris Andersen – “The Birdman” emerged in the 2008-09 season as a critical bench player (+13 efficiency rating) who displayed his knack for both ends of the floor. While he is more potent on defense a la his shot-blocking abilities (2.5 blocks per game), Andersen is also a very good offensive rebounder, an attribute few teams possess.
Trevor Ariza – The defensive-minded Ariza showcased his exceptional quickness and nose for the ball during the 2008-09 season, as well as his aptitude to hit the open jump shot and slash to the basket for an easy deuce. Although Ariza has already played for three teams (New York, Orlando, Los Angeles Lakers) in his five-year career, look for the 24-year-old to sign a lucrative long-term deal.
Ron Artest – Artest may be one of the league’s most underrated commodities in that he can lead a team in scoring coupled with his defensive prowess to guard the opposing squad’s most substantial offensive threat, ranging anywhere from the 2 to 4 position. At age 29 and with 10 years under his NBA belt, Artest is experienced enough to help a team win a championship but still young enough for a relatively lengthy deal.
Hedo Turkoglu – Since 2005 when he landed in Orlando, the Turk has elevated his game from a mere spot-up shooting role to a highly potent playmaker who is not in the least afraid to have the ball in his hands come any given game’s final shot. While Turkoglu just hit age 30, he has missed just 18 games dating back to the 2005-06 season, including five in 2008-09 and none the previous year, a statistic that is sure to boost his stock.
Rasheed Wallace – Despite averaging the fewest points per game this past season (12) since his rookie campaign in 1995-96 (10), Wallace remains a legitimate free agent because of his playoff experience and unselfish mentality (at least on the court). Sure the 34-year-old Sheed is not going to be the focal point of whichever team signs him, but his ability to hit the open jump shot, rebound, pass and defend in doses will do any championship-calibur team (Cleveland, Orlando, Boston) wonders if he is able to stay healthy throughout the course of next season and on into the playoffs.
Andre Miller – Like a fine wine, Miller continues to improve with age. Not only has he played in all 82 regular season games in each of the past two seasons while playing major minutes per game (36+), the former Utah Ute has also averaged the most points per game (16 this past season and 17 the year before) since his third year in the league in 2001-02 (17). Additionally, Miller racked up approximately five rebounds and seven assists per game this past season despite playing for a mediocre 76ers (41-41). In a point-guard driven league, Miller may see those numbers increase yet again if he is surrounded by better overall talent.
Jason Kidd – Don’t let his age (36) and mileage (1,222 career games) fool you. J-Kidd is still a top point guard in this league, as illustrated by his 4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio during the 2008-09 season. His defense and shooting have always been relatively suspect, but Kidd’s creativity and knowledge of the game far outweigh any of the holes in his game. Look for Kidd to make one more impressive stint worth two, maybe three years.
Lamar Odom – Arguably one of the greatest raw talents in the league today, L.O. is the complete package – when he has his head on his shoulders. He can shoot, pass, rebound, handle the ball exceptionally well for his 6’10’’ height, create for himself and others, go coast-to-coast like its no one’s business, defend and shot-block. The only question lies in his mental game, which has prevented Odom from establishing and maintaining the consistency that would send him to the all-star game every year. It appears that the Lakers are the favorite here, but nothing is definite in professional sports until the contract is inked.
About the Author
Written by Josh Hoffman