Top 10 Underrated Free Agent Signings in 2013 NBA Free Agency
10 Most Underrated Free Agent Signings
The NBA free agency period is a time where teams look to re-sign their own free agents or search for a superstar in hopes of making a run for the title. The two biggest names were point guard Chris Paul and center Dwight Howard. The Los Angeles Clippers immediately re-signed Paul to a five-year, $107 million contract, while Howard took his time before making his decision to forgo the max money that only the Los Angeles Lakers could offer in favor of the smaller market Houston Rockets.
Then there were a few puzzling moves, such as Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson signing with the lowly Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks power forward Josh Smith signing with the Detroit Pistons, a team who already has a pair of outstanding frontcourt players in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Sometimes teams even overpay free agents. The Hawks got a steal with Paul Millsap's two-year, $19 million contract, but they're overpaying Kyle Korver $6.7 million, when all he can do is shoot three-pointers. Jefferson's three-year, $41 million is a bad deal for a good low-post guy who can't play defense and will stunt the growth of the Bobcats' younger players. It goes to show that while Michael Jordan was a good NBA player, he doesn't know how to run a team.
A few teams knew how to fill out their needs without spending a lot. These are called underrated free agents. These players have about an average PER rating (average is 15 and means a good role player), which stands for Player Efficiency, but they were signed to deals lower than the $5 million mid-exception. Read on to find out about the best underrated free agent acquisitions of 2013.
No. 10 Wesley Johnson
Wesley Johnson is now part of the Lakers and is paid $884,000. His PER last season was 10.34. He averaged eight points in 19 minutes. As a former No. 4 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, this is a bargain for the Lakers. Johnson can be considered a bust, but maybe he just didn't fit in Minnesota nor Phoenix. The Lakers probably just want him to defend and rebound.
No. 9 Mike Dunleavy
Last season, Mike Dunleavy shot 42 percent from three-point land, averaged 10.5 points and had a PER of 13.64. He'll be a welcome addition to the Chicago Bulls, as the team ranked 20th in the league in three-point percentage. He's also a capable defender. His new contract is two years for $6 million.
No. 8 Dorell Wright
Dorell Wright has agreed to join the Portland Trailblazers on a contract similar to Dunleavy's. He'll be expected to provide shooting off the bench. Last season, his PER was 16.07. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 22 minutes of action, while shooting 37 percent from behind the arc.
No. 7 Darren Collison
Darren Collison has signed with the Clippers for two years and $3.8 million to rejoin old teammate Paul. Last season, his PER was 16.37, he averaged 12 points, five assists and shot 37 percent from the three. He'll be more comfortable leading the second unit compared to his starting stints in Indiana and Dallas. Like the guard he's expected to replace, Eric Bledsoe, Collison thrives on the fast break. While he's not as good defensively, he's a more natural point guard compared to Bledsoe, and he can shoot from outside. The Tribe Called Bench should remain just as effective under Collison as it was with Bledsoe.
No. 6 Chris Copeland
The Indiana Pacers managed to pilfer Chris Copeland, a three-point specialist, from the New York Knicks. Copeland shot 42 percent from downtown and posted a PER of 16.89. He'll help the Pacers in three-point percentage, where they ranked 22nd last season. His contract is a two-year, $6 million deal.
No. 5 Luigi Datome
Luigi Datome (not pictured) is the Italian League MVP who last played with Virtus Roma. He shot 51.5 percent from the field, 39.4 percent from three-point territory and 92.6 percent at the charity stripe. He led his team with 16.4 points on just 11 attempts and only played about 33 minutes. He will play for the Detroit Pistons this fall, where they will pay him $3.5 million over two years.
No. 4 Chris Kaman
Former Clipper Chris Kaman is back in LA, but this time with the Lakers. He signed a one-year, $3.2 million contract with them. Last year, he posted a 16.32 PER, averaged 10.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in a career low of 20.7 minutes. He may not be equivalent to Howard defensively, but he can score with either hand in the post and doesn't need the ball all the time to be happy.
No. 3 Chris Andersen
In the regular season, Chris Andersen averaged 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, one block and shot 57 percent from the field. His PER was 17.44. During the playoffs, his field goal percentage was 80. He helped contain Tim Duncan, yet he's decided to return to the Miami Heat on a one-year deal worth $1.7 million because he'll have a better chance winning another ring this way.
No. 2 Nate Robinson
When Derrick Rose was unable to return for the Bulls, Nate Robinson carried the team past the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs. His PER was 17.43, and he averaged 16.3 points, shot 43.6 percent from the field, dished 4.4 assists and had a steal in 33.7 minutes. Yet, Robinson did not have many offers when he became a free agent. Thus, he has signed with the Denver Nuggets on a two-year deal worth $4 million. He might be in the run for sixth Man of the Year for the team.
No. 1 Andrei Kirilenko
I don't know what the Nets did to convince Andrei Kirilenko to play for a team that's crowded in the frontcourt, but he had opted out of the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, which would have paid him $10 million, to chase an NBA title with the Nets on a cheap $6 million contract for two years. Last season, he had a 17.67 PER, was averaging 12.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, one block and 1.5 steals per game. Kirilenko is the most underrated free agent acquisition of 2013.