NBA free agency: Best of who’s left


BY SPENCER DAVIES

With the majority of players having found new (or the same) homes, Spencer lists five of his favorite free agency targets left on the market.

After three weeks of insanity and a ton of player movement, the NBA offseason has finally started to quiet down. Although the top tier of the free agent class has already found its place, there are still some under-the-radar talent that could impact a team in the right situation. In descending order, here’s five of my favorite available players left in free agency.

5) Justin Hamilton

In his short two-year career, the 7-foot, 260-pound Hamilton has already played for three different teams. After 24 games with the Heat, he was traded to New Orleans and later waived. The Minnesota Timberwolves later picked up the 25-year-old off of waivers, where he ended up starting nine games at the tail end of the season.

As a starter, Hamilton averaged a hair under eight points and over five rebounds per game. Why is this significant? Well, if you expand those numbers to when he played over 30 minutes (which was in five of those games), he put up 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds on 51.4 percent from the field. Adding Hamilton as a backup center and giving him 15 to 20 minutes per game could be beneficial to any team that needs help in the front court (*cough Dallas, cough*).

4) Dorell Wright

A victim of sitting behind the likes of Wesley Matthews in Portland and losing his starting spot to then-rookie-now-superstar Klay Thompson in Golden State, Wright has a great opportunity to find a situation where he can flourish once again.

A veteran shooter and a solid role player, Wright would be well-suited to play 20-25 minutes per game in a backup role. He’s a 3-point threat, as his career average is 36.5 percent beyond the arc in 11 seasons. Wright’s also proven before that he has the ability to start, as he averaged 16.4 points per game in the 2010-11 season with the Warriors–but if he chooses to sign with a contender, it would be best for him to come off the bench and make an impact.

3) Norris Cole

Though he’s a restricted free agent and the Pelicans can match any offer made to him, any team searching for backup point guard help should look no further than Norris Cole. With four years of pro ball under his belt, Cole has been a part of championship basketball, achieving two rings during his time with the Heat.

After a poor perimeter shooting start with Miami (26.5%) last season, he turned things around with the Pelicans (37.8%) offensively. He made two more field goals and attempted over three more shots per game with New Orleans, which is an encouraging trend that I’m sure teams took notice of.

2) J.R. Smith

Aside from the uncharacteristic off-shooting in the NBA Finals, J.R. Smith had a much-needed rebirth with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who which he may end up re-signing with when all is said and done–but if a deal isn’t made between the two, Smith could ultimately be starting somewhere else as a reliable scoring option for any team.

What was most noticeable about Smith’s revival was his stellar defensive improvement, along with his regained confidence in his shot. He shot 39 percent from the perimeter with the Cavs and attempted almost five more threes per games then earlier in the year with New York. An 11-year veteran, Smith is still in the prime of his career and can help any contender that needs shooting.

1) Kevin Seraphin

The most intriguing prospect left in this free agent class, Seraphin has plenty of upside as a starting big man in the NBA.

In his second and third year, Seraphin was well on his way to blossoming into a legitimate front court threat, but Washington brought in Marcin Gortat to take his role–so instead of giving Seraphin the opportunity to become one of the league’s best young big men, he was moved to a backup spot.

In 31 career games as a starter, Seraphin has averaged 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds on 48.3 percent from the field. At only 25 years old, he has yet to reach his full potential due to lack of minutes. Although he’s only 6-foot-9, he moves bodies in the paint due to his 264-pound frame.

If Seraphin lands somewhere where he can step in as the starting center, he could make a significant impact right away and get back on track to becoming the league’s newest threat underneath.