It's hard to win in the NBA. The only real trick is to get good players. This presents a few problems. The conventional routes are to draft players or sign players. In the draft, it's hard to identify the best players, and even when you do, they take time to develop. In free agency, good players are often expensive and coveted by many teams. But occasionally a team can luck out and find one or more underrated talents. This offseason presents such an opportunity. Let's review how a team – say the Lakers – could make a stocked roster in short order.
- Current Salary: $6.2 million
- 2013-2014 WP48: 0.247
- 9.9 Assists per 48 minutes
- 7.6 Rebounds per 48 minutes
- 22.0 Points per 48 minutes on 57.8% True Shooting
Lowry has always been a distributer and rebounder. His shooting efficiency has always been pretty good, but he's really upped it this year. He'll be 28 next season and coming off a contract just above the midlevel exception. If Toronto doesn't make sure to snag him, he'll be a great free agent target.
- Current Salary: $1.0 million
- 2013-2014 WP48: 0.253
- 9.8 Rebounds per 48 minutes
- 7.0 Assists per 48 minutes
- 19.2 Points per 48 minutes on 57.2% True Shooting
I'm not sure what's in the water in Indiana but like Paul George, Lance levelled up this season. He'll just be hitting his prime next season and is coming off an absurdly cheap contract. Now, the Pacers do hold his restricted free agency rights. However, they'll already be at around $66 million next season in contracts. This is thanks to brilliant moves, like giving David West $12 million a season and trading for Luis Scola. That means if the Pacers give Lance anything more than $5 million a season they'll likely be in the luxury cap zone. If a team is willing to offer Lance close to his value ($10+ million), they'll force Indiana's hand. I bet they flinch.
- Current Salary: $3.9 million
- 2013-2014 WP48: 0.188
- 6.8 Rebounds per 48 minutes
- 1.7 Turnovers per 48 minutes
- 2.4 Steals per 48 minutes
- 2.4 Fouls per 48 minutes
When it comes to scoring, Thabo is actually having an off year. The rest of his skills for a shooting guard are actually keeping his value high. The key to Thabo is his ludicrously low contract. Yes, he is up there in age. That said, for his value and his price, any team should take a good look. Oklahoma has committed their salary to Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, and Perkins (a 50% hit rate aint bad, right?). They're just at the luxury cap for next season. Unless they amnesty Perkins, they'll probably balk at any team offering $5+ million for Sefolosha. That'd definitely be a steal.
- Current Salary: $3.6 million
- 2013-2014 WP48: 0.245
- 20.8 Points per 48 minutes on 57.1% True Shooting
- 17.6 Rebounds per 48 minutes
- 1.9 Blocks per 48 minutes
If he played real minutes, Jordan Hill would be a marquee big. His problem is that he struggles to see playing time on the Lakers. Given his age and absurd rebounding, you'd figure he'd get more time. The Lakers have a few options. They could let Hill see the court more and re-sign him. Or, another team could swoop in and offer him a decent contract and an offer as a starter. It'd be a quick test to see if the Lakers have really lost it. Top bigs are a must in the NBA and Hill looks poised to be one. Is it a rule that a Los Angeles team has to underplay their top big?
Even at $10 million a player, the above could easily restock a team. Some teams easily have the cap space (Dallas, Philly, and Phoenix). Even the Lakers could nab a few (or even all of them if they did it right). This free agency period is great in that there are multiple underrated players on the market. With everyone scrambling to try to grab LeBron and Wade, there's a great chance to pull down multiple underrated players and also keep the impact on the books light. Keep an eye out for the teams that nab these players in free agency.