With the NBA offseason quickly approaching, the dream of being crowned Champion is all but over for many of our favorite teams. Of the four teams that remain, only 2 were in the playoffs within the previous 2 seasons (Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers), one team is competing in the Conference finals for the first time in franchise history (Clippers). Only one of the remaining teams has competed for an NBA Championship in the past 50 years (Bucks won it all in 1971). With that being said, what’s to stop your favorite NBA squad from being in next year’s Championship run? It’s probably their bench.
Role players comprise 90% of an NBA team and are the most important part of any team’s potential Championship run. Just ask Damian Lillard if he’d like to be surrounded by more talented and hungry players. I’ve comprised a list of under the radar NBA talent that may be just what the basketball godz ordered. While most of these players won’t be household names to the casual NBA fan, each would be a key piece should they choose to join a contending squad.
Dennis Schröder – 6’3” PG (UFA*)
- Coming off a lackluster playoff performance, Dennis has to know that he will not be offered the same type of salary the Lakers proposed in a contract extension earlier this season. $84 million for 14PPG, 40% FG percentage and almost a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio for a point guard, during the playoffs is highly absurd. To expect that much money from any team other than the Lakers is unrealistic. No team has that kind of cap space this year, especially those presently contending in the playoffs. If he’s still looking to be “the man” on a squad full of meh players, expect to see him pursue a deal with a team like the New York Knicks. If he hopes to remain part of a team that can win a Championship and he’s willing to take a major payout, he can provide valuable minutes off the bench and help a team like Brooklyn or Philadelphia when their starters aren’t playing. He is a tough defender and has proven to be a decent 4th/5th option as a scorer.
Otto Porter Jr. – 6’8” SF (UFA*)
- Every playoff team needs a good scorer off the wing that can body up on D. If Otto is tired of playing for non-playoff contenders, now would be a great time for him to look to join a contending team on a short term contract, if he’s willing to accept a pay cut. While he won’t provide the type of scoring boost a team like Portland would need, he can definitely be an asset for teams like, the Warriors or Lakers. He can also help a young team like Memphis rise up to the level of the Atlanta Hawks.
Spencer Dinwiddie – 6’5” PG/SG (UFA*)
- A few years ago, the 76ers needed shooters, which they currently have in abundance. What they need now more than anything, are guys that can create their own shot and play off the ball. Seth Curry is one, but one isn’t enough in today’s NBA. This is evidenced by the virtual collapse of the team whenever coach Rivers put in his 5 man bench squad or mixed the bench + Simmons – Embiid. In steps Spencer Dinwiddie, fresh off an ACL tear which would give reason for a short term incentive laced contract with a Championship contending team. Add in the opportunity to throw salt in the wounds of his former squad (Brooklyn Nets) while raining 3’s from beyond the arc and creating plays for Embiid, Simmons and Curry. That gives you a 4 man go get em’ squad. The 76ers could have desperately used a guy like this during their 2021 playoff run. *hint hint* He’s available now!
Kelly Olynyk – 6’11” PF/C (UFA*)
- After being traded to what wound up being the worst team in the NBA this 2020-2021 season, you would have to imagine that a man that competed for a Championship the season before as a member of the Miami Heat would want to be part of a contending roster. At 6’11”, Olynyk is a career 36% shooter from three and boasts a 78.3% field goal percentage. He takes smart shots, understands where to be and can defend in the post. The Lakers are in desperate need of a reliable back up for the often injured Anthony Davis. Evidence from their 2020 title run shows that this team does better with players that already have playoff/NBA finals experience. Olynyk fits the bill and the asking price should be low enough that the Lakers or another contender will be able to add this shooter to their squad to help spread the floor.
Demar DeRozan – 6’6” SF/SG (UFA*)
- Probably the only recognizable name on this list, Derozan (unrestricted free agent) can shift the balance for whoever signs him. Demar was a stand out star with the Toronto Raptors team, 3 years ago. Since being traded to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard, he’s been somewhat forgotten about. His inability to consistently hit 3 point shots, lack of size and laymen ability to make plays for others prevent him from being any team’s alpha star. However, the talents he does possess (athleticism, mid range game, ability to create his own shot) make him an extremely valuable asset to any team willing to pursue the 4x NBA All Star. Expect him to receive tons of attention this off season and hope that yours is the team he chooses.
Know of any under the radar players that deserve to be on this list and can help your favorite team reach the promised land? Drop a comment.