2011 Free Agency, NBA / Jun 27, 2011 / 4:00 pm

Ron Harper All-Stars: The NBA’s Top 10 Role-Playing Free Agents

Tayshaun Prince

Tayshaun Prince (photo. Keith Allison)

Ironically, just as last week’s NBA Draft had about as much star power as a WNBA game, this summer’s free agent class is also incredibly weak up top. Today, news broke that David West will opt out of his contract and become a free agent. He seriously might be the best player available this summer. Compare that to one year ago when it seemed every franchise player was on the market.

But just as the draft was, this class is deep enough that there is talent available. And every great team needs a Steve Kerr or a Derek Fisher or a Bruce Bowen or a Dennis Johnson or a Vinnie Johnson. When I say “role-playing” guys available, I’m talking about a certain group. I’m talking players I would legitimately feel comfortable with in a must-win in the Finals. If I was just a piece or two away from a title, I wouldn’t grab or go after players that have the basketball IQ of a squirrel (J.R. Smith) or avoid defense at all costs (Jamal Crawford) or struggle to make shots (Chuck Hayes) or are too talented for their own good (Aaron Brooks, I don’t need my backups shooting to run down the starters) or who I can’t see leaving their current situation (Grant Hill, DeAndre Jordan, C.J. Miles), or aren’t aggressive (Jeff Green) or guys that have too much potential to be boxed in (Wilson Chandler, Nick Young). I want guys who have specific skills – a jump-shooting two, a defensive big man, an athletic three.

With that, here are the 10 best role-playing free agents available this summer, the Ron Harper All-Stars.

*** *** ***

10. Mario Chalmers/J.J. Barea – It’s a pathetic summer for point guards. Pathetic. T.J. Ford, Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills, Early Boykins. Those are some of the top signal callers available. As we saw in the Finals, Chalmers and Barea can both play roles on a title team: Chalmers for his defense and three-point shooting…Barea for his annoying shot-making.

Dallas and Miami will look to bring them back (Chalmers is restricted, Barea, unrestricted), but with the buffet line so dried up, someone is pound to overpay.

9. Samuel Dalembert – We need a center right? Just as the PG spot will have teams fighting for scraps like they’re Eli and Solara stuck in a post-apocalyptic world, really big guys are gonna be gobbled up quickly. And Dalembert is one big dude. Perfect for someone who needs a big anchor inside, and won’t ask him to do much more than stand there, be big, ugly, and block a shot/grab a rebound here and there.

Dalembert isn’t much of a talent, but every great team could use someone like him. He can play the Luc Longley role. I almost put Kyrylo Fesenko here until I realized he’s Kyrylo Fesenko.

8. Shane Battier – Heartbreakingly, Battier wasted his prime years languished on a Houston team that was never quite good enough. Then, he finally catches a nice wave with the Grizzlies last year, who would’ve been PERFECT for him maybe two or three years ago.

He’s the master of defensive tricks, seemingly “inventing” stuff like the hand-in-the-face technique. Give him 20 minutes a night on a great team, and he’ll make a big difference.

7. Glen Davis – I said recently that while Davis shouldn’t be an option as a full-time starting power forward, he’s solid as hell as a backup, part-time fill-in. Last year, before his public mental breakdown in the playoffs, Big Baby dropped 12 and five, the best year of his career. He’s hit game-winners in the playoffs and played a central role on a couple deep Boston playoff runs.

Sadly, my guess is some lottery team drops dough on him, he starts and averages something like 13 and six, attempts so many charges that eventually Blake Griffin kicks him in the face, we forget all about his slobbering playoff moments and he ends up wishing he never left Boston by the third week in November.

6. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – A Battier in training. The Milwaukee restricted free agent struggles offensively, but he’s one of the most versatile defenders in the league. He’s covered Kobe. He’s checked LeBron. He’s rumbled with Kevin Garnett. He’s a perfect example of someone who may never win an individual award but every GM will always want him.

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  • http://www.dimemag.com Aron Phillips

    Not a ton of guys to open up the pocketbook for, but definitely dudes to fill out the roster.

  • Roc1980

    Good call with the J-Rich to the Bulls scenario…

  • http://dimemag.com King

    Some things never change….. Dime love goin out of their way to take a shot at JR Smith….. yall need to grow up! and if he has a bball IQ of a squirrel, what do u guys have? One of a beatle?

  • fsf

    …surrounded by stupid shots, terrible tattoos, selfish players and J.R. Smith. Extra points for this.

    Love that

  • Kudabeen

    Disagree on Wilson Chandler…I haven’t seen anything about him that tells me he requires to be a star or #1 player or that he isn’t going to show up on either end of the floor sulking for minutes or anything.

    He seems like a guy that can do anything to fit in with your Team. There isn’t a team in the league I don’t think he wouldn’t fit with. What we did see in the playoffs is that he isn’t an aggressive closer at all. He will just play in the flow of the game to a fault.

  • nizzio

    Why y’all hating on JR Smith? He makes more in one year than y’all make in a lifetime

  • Kudabeen

    Yeah JR is immature and doesn’t do somethings defensively, but offensively and general play he isn’t a low IQ guy…what is the comparison or bar for a bench/scorer? Is it because he hasn’t cashed in on his enormous talent (really has the skill-set to be a top 10 player), but something just doesn’t connect…that’s label Basketball IQ?

    I guess I feel players aren’t two different people like the media tries to make us feel. Kobe is Kobe always. His Agressiveness on the court shows off the court. Maybe no when he knows the cameras are on, but in the gym by his self or in Denver hotel he is an aggressive guy clearly…(j/k sorta just had to do it…)

    JR came in the league too early. Instead of being mentored and coached he was chastised and turned off of the belief that the coach is there to make you better not limit your shine by Byron “Sly Smile Through It All” Scott. I’m not excusing his immaturity, but he plays his role for Denver. He makes plays for Denver. It is unnecessary to kill him for lack of IQ on the floor…

    NBA is such an improvisational league now that makes it excitingly bad basketball that penalizes defense, so what is the player incentive or working hard to give effort on an end of the floor that the league doesn’t value instead of trying to drop 30+ with every single shot/dunk?!?!

  • the cynic

    i wouldn’t be surprised if no one signed JR Smith

  • the cynic

    JR Smith has a low IQ period

  • mark

    Good call with Afflalo. That guy is a perfect role player. A true un-sung hero. He would only get his name out there if he was on LA, Boston, Miami, and maybe my beloved Bulls…..

  • crossphaded

    Love the Ron Harper mention!!! Solid role players are a dime a dozen.

  • heckler

    are you guys really ranking AARON AFFALO as the #1 role player in the nba?

    remember when James Posey would have made this list?
    sheeeeit, how far off that map has he fallen since being traded out of Boston? shit.

    Affalo will stay in Denver, and after 2 seaons, yall will realize he is a clone of Ime Udoka…

    Tayshaun Prince should RUN to the Clips if the opportunity presented itself. Hometown boy back in LA. he’d be a perfect compliment to what they are doing in LA.

    Tyson Chandler will be back in Dallas.
    If he did leave, the NY Knicks would be PERFECT for him.

    Jason Richardson is decent. respectable. I didnt realize hes 30yrs old already. I gues GS was a looong time ago. if rudy gay is permanently damaged, I like the idea of tony allen and jason richardson being the wings in Memphis.

    Kenyon Martin: I have always been a fan. hes tough. hes a leader. and he can defend perimeter players. but i dont see Denver offering him big money. my guess is that he bounces. but if you need a tough PF to play above the rim and protect a pussy center, he’d be a perfect compliment. …are you listening MILWAUKEE?!!?

    Carl Landry: decent role player. Im not sure he should be tied for 4th best in the league. if big baby dont re-sign in Boston, the Celts just need to scoop in

    Mbah a Moute: nice on perimter defense. sucks everywhere else. NOT a good role player. 1-dimensional 1-trick pony.

    Glen Davis: this fat fuck is actually a decent role player. but he doesnt know his role all the time. if Boston dont resign him, he might end up in Jersey or New Orleans–especially if the Hornets lose David West

    Shane Battier: Ive always been a fan. seems to do everything right all the time. Memphis should really keep him. although, he seems like a good fit in San Antonio. Richard Jefferson SUCKS anyway

    Samuel Dalembert: excellent role player as a center. defends willingly. rebounds willingly and has a decent outlet pass. i dont like that he doesnt block a lot of shots for his size (same with Tyson), but he can semi-anchor the defense in the paint.
    Miami will come after him hard. So will NY.
    he just has to decide which has better hatian women, FL or NY.

    Mario Chalmers: shouldnt be top 10 on this list. he got minutes by default. eddie house sucks and mike bibby is a bigger bum. poor Spoelstra had no choice but to play Chalmers. Still, Mario earned everything he got in the playoffs. the Heat really need Kirk Hinrich aas their point guard. but anyway, Mario will stay in Miami


    Free Agents with dumbass basketball IQ
    The JR Smith All-Stars:

    10. Aaron Brooks
    9. Jamal Crawford
    8. Ike Diogu
    7. Jamario Moon
    6. Shelden Williams
    5. Vladimir Radmanovic
    4. Sebastian Telfair
    3. Marcus Banks
    2. Kwame Brown
    1. JR Smith

  • Big B

    JR Smith needs a team with veterans if he signs with a young team it could spell disaster for the locker room.

  • superfreak

    @ heckler

    They’re naming the top 10 role players that are free agents this summer, not necessarily the NBA as a whole. Affalo would have to be this summer’s best free agent role player.

    I’m not sure why there’s hate for Dalembert. He’s a good defensive presence and gives you good rebounding and block shots at that position. His offensive game is bad in the sense he takes too many shots, but he was putting up some nice numbers for Sacto toward the end of the year. The man is also durable, played 80+ games like last 4-5 seasons, which is more than you can say about 80% of centers in the league nowadays.

    Thanks for giving a shoutout to Tay, that man is as underappreciated as it comes. Get him out of Detroit and onto a young emerging team.

  • beiber newz

    sweeny’s tyson chandler description had a few twists and turns in it. lol

  • larry brown

    RON HARPER;You should know, because you was thee best bench warmer in the league, and could not talk, and know one knew who the hell you were. But every one knows, who Nick Young is, because off his looks, and Young sweet smooth game, point’s win game. So stop hating you know not what you speak off.

  • JAY

    ^^^ WTF???

  • Celts Fan

    Some of you are dumb as shit. Whyd Dallas win the title? Cuz they found a way to defend LeBron. Whyd LA and Boston win the 3 before that? Cuz they were good defensive teams that could protect the rim. If “points win titles” then steve nash would be Bill Russell. Points get you on Sportscenter, defense and rebounding win titles. SMH

  • sh!tfaced

    shit, when did larry brown become a faggot….?

  • Brown

    I’d love to see Tayshaun Prince go to Golden State. They could desperately use his veteran presence, defense and rebounding.

  • Dan Tanner

    @ King haha, its beetle not beatle. Unless you were referring to the pop rock quartet. Dummy dumb!

  • http://dimemag.com coldasice

    tayshaun prince to me. would be a gd fit in ny. in either a 6th man or 7th man off the bench. he plays d still. can still put the ball in the hole. and does the lil things that will fit in well on a vet team. can guard a few positions. and if we can snag back wilson chandler. then go for the prince man

  • http://dimemag.com coldasice