About a year and a half ago, you didn’t know who JJ Barea was. But that’s okay, you don’t really need to know every backup point guard in the league. On a team with names like Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd, who would notice the 6’0” guy who played his college ball at noted basketball powerhouse Northeastern?
But then the playoffs happened, and you learned about JJ Barea. You saw him run fast break after fast break, and pester the much larger players on the court. In a fortuitous bit of timing, Barea saved his best for last, combining for 32 points and 10 assists in the final two games of the NBA finals. Barea started 81 regular season games and 18 playoff games on the bench, before starting for the final three games of the season.
But here is the thing about José Juan Barea Mor: he’s not actually that good at basketball. Sure, he’d tear up my rec league, bust most players in the NBA are better than him. For his career his Win Shares per 48 minutes is 0.70, where 0.100 is considered average. His Wins Produced per 48 minutes, another statistic where 0.100 is considered average, was .50 in 2011. If you like to use PER (and you shouldn’t, it’s not good math), Bareas career PER is 13.6 (15 is average). No matter how you slice it, AT BEST Barea is a below average NBA player.
In what should be a surprise to nobody, Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn didn’t understand this, and shelled out $19 million over 4 years for Barea to be…a below average backup point guard. The thing is, this happens every year. Some guy gets hot in the playoffs, and he is dramatically overpaid afterwards. I mean, how the hell else did Austin Croshere get 7 years and $51 million?
The 2011-12 playoffs are no different. In about nine months you are going to be asking yourself “how the hell did that guy get so much money?” The playoffs aren’t over yet, but we’re here to tell you the most likely candidates to be that guy.
5. Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs – Unrestricted Free Agent
These playoffs have been the coming out party for Danny Green, who was excellent this season while starting 38 games, but nobody noticed him because he played for the Spurs. He has flourished as a spot up three-point shooter, playing well off of the driving Tony Parker. Danny Green IS getting paid, the only reason he isn’t higher on this list is because he might actually turn out to be worth it. This was only his third season in the league, and he only played a combined twenty-eight games during his first two years. He might be worthy of starting…but he might also be another Spurs role player who benefits from the system.
4. Randy Foye – Los Angeles Clippers – Unrestricted Free Agent
I had to pinch myself when I saw Randy Foye getting crunch time minutes for the Clippers. And even more surprising…he was kind of good. He shot 44% on threes, and started over Mo Williams. But the thing is that Foye has had plenty of chances to prove that he is a good basketball player, and he isn’t. He’s had six years in the league for three different teams, and inexplicably he has always gotten minutes. Unfortunately for Foye, those numbers, especially the defensive ones, have always been sub-par. Still, it seems like somebody is about to give him a 4-year, $16 million contract, about $8 million more than he deserves.
3. Andre Iguodala – Philadelphia 76ers – 2 years, $31 million left
This one is a little bit different, as Andre Iguodala is clearly a pretty good basketball player. As he led the 76ers to an upset over the Derrick-Rose less Chicago Bulls however, it felt like maybe he finally took the leap to stardom. But the advanced stats are less rosy on his performance, suggesting he was much better in the regular season, when he was subjected to trade rumor after trade rumor. During the regular it was suggested that he might be traded straight up for Monta Ellis, but now people are throwing out names like Andrew Bynum. Really?
2. Mickael Pietrus – Boston Celtics – Unrestricted Free Agent
One day his name is being cursed on Twitter, the next he is hitting huge shots to put the Celtics on the brink of the NBA Finals. But as every good Warriors fan knows, Pietrus has never been able to play up to his athletic potential. He is so in love with three-pointers that former Warriors coach Don Nelson banned him from shooting threes from anywhere but the corners, benching him if the disobeyed. In theory his athleticism should make him an amazing defender, able to hang with 2’s and 3’s…but he just can’t.
1. Spencer Hawes – Philadelphia 76ers – Unrestricted Free Agent
Hawes has something none of the rest of the guys on this list have—height—the most valuable commodity in the NBA. I always thought he fit in the traditional mold of big, white, stiff (see: Ostertag, Greg; Dudley, Chris) but in the playoffs he showed the makings of a potential double-double a night starting center. I am predicting that somebody gives him something like a 4 year, $35 million contract…and comes to severely regret it.