Now that the major free agents have signed with their respective teams for the 2010-2011 season - we are left wondering - who is left? Here’s a quick breakdown of a handful of players we consider to be the best of the available lot.
You start with Nate Robinson. “Little Nate” (pictured at left) is a competitive guy that also happens to be a skilled NBA quality athlete. He is just 26 years old and is already ranked among the top 25 Point Guards in the NBA by per-minute efficiency.
I’m not a believer in signing a hurt guy or a guy coming off an injury so I would begrudgingly turn the other cheek on Al Harrington. But as a disclaimer I want to say that, if healthy (he had shoulder surgery at end of 2010 regular season), he would be the second choice over here behind Robinson as far as what is left.
Luke Ridnour has to be near the top of any remaining free-agent list. Ridnour had a fantastic 2009-10 season in Milwaukee where he rated 13th in PG efficiency.
Off the beaten path - if you wanted to gamble a bit - I like a few players that are basically still unproven in the NBA. Chief among the unproven lot is Ian Mahinmi who spent time with the Spurs and their D-League affiliate. Mahinmi’s efficiency is ‘through the roof’ but in a very small sample size. He could potentially be THE steal of free-agency if he can maintain his ridiculous NBA EFR of .738. His D-League EFR is also a potent .711.
Kyle Hines (pictured at right) is a Power Forward that was undrafted in 2008. He is only 6’6” which scares NBA personnel off. However - Hines has the shoulders of Atlas, the Greek God - coupled with a wingspan that actually is two inches longer than Kevin Love’s wingspan, and a two and a half inches longer than Darrell Arthur’s. Both Love and Arthur were drafted in 2008 as Power Forwards. Hines should have been drafted. Of course, if I like him - he is also efficient. As a matter of fact, Hines is one of six players in the history of the NCAA to score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and block 300 shots. The others? Alonzo Mourning, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Derrick Coleman, and Pervis Ellison.
The next less obvious choice is a bit more of a “Hail Mary”. Why not take a good look at Aaron Gray? Gray’s EFR of .598 ranked 14th among all NBA Centers last regular season. Again, the sample size is small but Gray (25) put up similar efficiency numbers in college.
He is the classic undersized post man but Craig Smith (pictured at left) has been efficient his entire career. He can score and rebound and youth is still on his side at age 26. Smith rated 24th at Power Forward efficiency in 2009-10.
The next gamble would be to give some money to Shaun Livingston, the tall-skinny Point Guard who returned from a devastating knee injury to play reasonably well at the end of the regular season. Livingston is still only 24 years old.
Speaking of the oft-injured there is always Ike Diogu to turn to. Big Ike has yet to establish himself in the NBA but there is no question he can get it done offensively.
Okay—enough with hurt guys. I have grown to enjoy Louis Amundson’s hustle game. Lou is 27 years old and in my book is the perfect guy to be that first BIG off the bench. I wouldn't break the bank for Amundson but if the price is right - this guy will reward a team with energy and enthusiasm.
Five more for consideration: Patrick O’Bryant (pictured at right) - efficient in minor minutes at age 24), Anthony Tolliver (a 25 year-old that would be a good BIG off the bench), P.J. Tucker (beefy power-guard that understands the game but is unproven in the NBA), Dominic James (former Marquette Point Guard has always impressed me as a team runner), and rookie Marqus Blakely (will play with the Clippers this summer.)
Day three of the Las Vegas Summer League included the debut of John Wall. However, the Player of the Day by efficiency was Ekene Ibekwe. Ibekwe, playing for the summer Blazers, came off the bench to score ten points (4-5 FG, 2-2 FT), grab eight boards, and block five shots in just 20 minutes.
Our “All Day Three Las Vegas Summer League Team” (their game efficiency rating). PG: Ty Lawson - DEN .939, SG: Reggie Williams - GSW .794, SF: Coby Karl - DEN .777, PF: Ibekwe - POR 1.200, C: Javale McGee - WA .838. Bench: Guards: Patty Mills - POR .814, Toney Douglas - NYK .771, Kenny Hasbrouck - MIA .656, Wall - WA .606. Forwards: Othella Hunter - DEN .625, Landry Fields - NYK .615, Center: Jarvis Varnado - MIA .526.