In recent years, the NBA offseason has routinely been dominated by bidding wars for superstars, and this year will be no different. Chris Paul and Dwight Howard will receive the majority of the news coverage, and with good reason. Adding one of those guys can turn a below average squad into a playoff contender, and the rumors that the two could potentially team up to form another Super Team have every major media outlets foaming at the mouth in anticipation of covering an event of that magnitude.
And while superstars are very important and in most cases essential pieces to a championship team, one or two players cannot carry a team. The most valuable signings in free agency are largely the ones that don’t get the media hype or the money the big-name stars do. Jerryd Bayless for Memphis, David West for Indiana, Chris Andersen for Miami, and Danny Green for San Antonio are some notable examples of recent low-profile free agent signings that have produced enough to help their teams play like the championship contenders they are today. So even though the teams that come away with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard will be deemed the winners of free agency, the ones that manage to pick up the players I highlight today may prove to be the the true winners come playoff time.
1. Will Bynum, PG
Being stuck behind Brandon Knight, Jose Calderon, and Rodney Stuckey didn’t do wonders for his stock, but Will Bynum has proven to be a solid point guard in the NBA. Last season he managed just under 10 points and 4 assists per game in 18.8 minutes per game, and he could do better with the right offense. He drives to the basket with authority despite being undersized, hitting 55% of his shots under the rim, and has proven to be a solid scoring threat overall. His ball movement needs work and he leaves a lot to be desired on defense, but Bynum could definitely come off the bench and provide a spark for a good team in an offensive rut.
2. J.J. Redick, SG
Even though he hasn’t materialized into the prolific scorer we saw coming out of Duke in 2006, J.J. Redick has developed a niche for himself as a pretty good shooter in the NBA. He won’t wow you with his defense and he has trouble creating his own shots, but an open Redick is something every NBA team should fear. Redick averaged 15 points per game last season despite having trouble adjusting in Milwaukee. He had a field goal percentage of .450% before being traded to the Bucks, which included a very respectable .390% behind the line. If a team is willing to give him a Danny Green-like role in their offense, Redick could turn into a very useful weapon for a team.
3. Dorell Wright, SF
Another scoring option being overlooked in this free agent crop is Dorell Wright. He had a bad season with the Sixers in 2012 after falling out of Doug Collins’ favor and at times being buried on the depth chart. Those who have followed Wright though know just how dangerous he can be. It wasn’t too long ago that he led the league in three-pointers with Golden State, and has proven he is dangerous when given consistent minutes. If a coach is willing to commit to Wright, he very well may return to form as one of the leagues most prolific three-point shooters.
4. Paul Millsap, PF
Paul Millsap is in my opinion one of the most underrated players in the NBA and will be the best signing that goes largely unnoticed this season. His numbers and measurables aren’t eye-popping and he is undersized for the position at 6-8, but Millsap is a hard worker that can bang the boards with the best of them. He has a complete offensive arsenal at his disposal after working on his outside shot last season and averaged about 15 points per game. He will never be the most talented guy on the court or the most flamboyant, but Paul Millsap is a guy every team should want to have on the floor and in their locker room.
5. Jermaine O’ Neal, C
The Suns training staff have to be cheating somehow. Whether it be cheat codes, magic, or the help of a reported German blood-spinning therapy called Reginokine, the Phoenix Suns have once again proven they can keep just about any player healthy. Jermaine O’ Neal came into this season with serious questions about whether he could handle another grueling NBA season. The grizzled center said he felt five years younger, and played like it too. Averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds in about 18 minutes per game, O’ Neal at times outplayed starter Marcin Gortat and proved that he still has a few years left as a productive member of a team. While there are concerns about whether he will have the same success if he leaves Phoenix, based on his production last season he would be a welcome addition to a good team in need of quality play at center.
By: Cody Milford- Pass the Pill Contributor