May 30, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) looks on during a game against the Miami Heat in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will get all the attention in NBA free agency, but here are some prominent second tier players to watch.
His antics in the Eastern Conference Finals made him famous with social media outlets, but it overshadowed how well Lance Stephenson actually played. When he’s on, he can score when he wants, attacks the basket and show athleticism and versatility on defense. What is so maddening about him is his inconsistency. He doesn’t go hard 100% of the time, and that scares teams. Will somebody be willing to venture big money on the upside?
He was lost in the euphoria of the Dwight Howard and James Harden show, but Chandler Parsons carved his own niche with the Houston Rockets. Very athletic, he boasts great shooting range but also will finish at the rim. Defense isn’t quite his thing yet but he’s at least working hard to improve at it. Most expect Houston to reserve enough cash to match any offer another team gives him in NBA free agency, but there are no guarantees.
There is nothing flashy about center Marcin Gortat, but also nothing weak. He’s good on offense and defense, which proved highly useful to the Washington Wizards during their playoff run. To that end he won’t come cheap but he will be affordable for team looking to upgrade their front lines at a reasonable price. At that point they can be guaranteed close to a double-double each night.
A big forward who can really shoot the ball from long range even though by his standards he had a down year in 2013-2014. Channing Frye isn’t the centerpiece of a lineup, but teams almost always execute better when he is on the floor. His impact for Phoenix was felt quite often. In truth he would make an excellent sixth body off the bench who can bring shooting when its needed.
Size unfortunately matters a lot in pro basketball, and has an effect on NBA free agency. Despite his success in Sacramento, point guard Isaiah Thomas is going to scare away a lot of team by being 5’9″. Never mind the fact he averaged 20 points and six assists for the season. He’s only 25 and has proven himself worthy whenever given a chance. His speed is a major asset as well. If the Kings aren’t careful somebody will swipe him before they can react.