Underrated 2018 NBA Free Agents
This offseason looks like it’ll be as exciting as ever. Lebron James is making another huge decision and possibly switching teams. Also, Paul George might finally join his hometown Lakers. Maybe those two will team up. Then, there’s Demarcus Cousins who suffered a gruesome achilles injury. With that injury he is still a super hot commodity when it comes to free agency. Finally, there’s Kawhi Leonard who is not a free agent, but is still grabbing an insane amount of attention this offseason. It’s the smaller signings in the offseason that are often overlooked. Last year the Rockets picked up PJ Tucker and he proved to be vital for Houston. Jeff Teague joined a loaded TWolves team and made a nice impact. And Aron Baynes joined the Celtics on the minimum contact and was essential in their deep playoff run. Who will be those guys of this offseason?
Barton just came off a season where he averaged just under 16ppg on 45% shooting from the field. He did this on a successful Denver Nuggets team. He’s a 6’6 shooting guard with an incredible wingspan. He’s the type of player that with the proper motivation can be an excellent two-way player in this league. Barton has a nice stroke from 3 at 37%. The best part of it all, Will Barton is only 27 and will be for most of next season. 27 is when most people are believed to be in their prime, so we could see a tremendous season from him wherever he signs. In my opinion, the best fit for him is the 76ers if they strike out on Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard. Even if they get one of those guys, Barton would be a great piece to plug in at the 2.
JJ Redick signed a massive one-year deal with Philly last season at 23 million. To start, Redick is a dead-eye sharpshooter and one of the best 3-point shooters this game has ever seen. Any team would want a guy like that. Also, he’d fit in best on a championship level team where teams wouldn’t be focusing on him and he’d get nearly unlimited open shots. In a bench roll he can easily average 10-14ppg. Lastly, he will not be making anything close to what he got last year unless a team gets desperate. The mid-level exception is where he should be at which is somewhere around 5 million for each team. The Warriors, Rockets, Celtics, or whatever team Lebron is on would be ideal fits.
Oh boy did Avery Bradley’s value disappear once he left the Celtics. Prior to this past season, I believed Bradley would be receiving somewhere near 20 million a year come this offseason. Now, he might be sniffing somewhere around 10 million give or take. Avery Bradley can still be a really good player, he was just thrown in systems that didn’t match with his playstyle. He’s still just 27 and he’s still very athletic. Nobody can deny Bradley’s hustle and defensive ability. He is an ideal 3 and D player for this league and is someone I could also see succeeding in Philly or Dallas. Next to Doncic and Dennis Smith JR, Avery is a great fit.
Enes Kanter is a 6’11 center who just came off a very efficient season with the Knicks. Kanter averaged 14ppg and 11rpg next to Kristaps Porzingis. Most people are saying that he wants to stay in New York, but he’d be a fool to not listen to other offers and one might just blow him away. Also, Kanter just turned 26 so he has a long career ahead of him barring health concerns. He is a monster on the boards and even in the era of 3 point shooting he finds ways to be effective mainly by snagging 4 offensive rebounds per game. Outside of New York, I see Dallas as the main team to snag him. I’ve mentioned Dallas many times in this because I truly believe they think they’re ready to win and make winning moves. His paint presence with Doncic, Smith JR, and Barnes around the perimeter will be scary. The Lakers should throw the bag at him if they strike out with Lebron and Paul George. They already have a nice young core that will be getting better. Throwing a huge body like Kanter out there with them would help tremendously. Of course, if he starts to decline rapidly his contract will look awful like Mozgov’s or Deng’s, but I truly don’t think he will ever be as irrelevant as them.
Seth Curry has always been overshadowed by big brother Steph, but Seth is coming off of a very sneaky good season. With the Mavericks last season, Curry averaged 12.8ppg on 48% shooting from the field and 43% shooting from 3. He’s almost 28 years old and hasn’t done a whole lot with his career, making him a very cheap player to add to any team. In transition, Seth is nearly unstoppable if he gets to his spots. Every team should want to add a piece like Seth Curry, but for Curry I think it would benefit him more to go to a not as good team and take advantage of playing time.
While there are tremendous stars that are available this offseason to grab, it’s the smaller signings that make a team more complete that leave an underrated impact. Watch for any of these guys I mentioned to be vital pieces to successful teams next season. If your favorite team has the opportunity to sign one of these guys, you should vouch for them. 2018 NBA Free Agency is upon us and it’s going to be an exciting adventure.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)