The Top NBA Sleeper Free Agents That Could Seriously Help A Contender

Between the Phil Jackson drama with the New York Knicks, speculation of where the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George could end up next year, the unpredictable yet entertaining antics of LaVar Ball, the NBA’s inaugural awards show, the recent draft where a record number of freshmen were selected in the first round, Chris Paul’s move to Houston and this weekend’s upcoming tipoff of summer league action, the league is riding a huge wave of momentum at the beginning stages of its new year.

One of the biggest questions being posed way ahead of the 2017-2018 season is who will have a legitimate chance of knuckling up with the monstrosity of a machine that the champion Golden State Warriors have assembled.

That debate will gain steam beginning on July 1st, when the free agency window is opened. 

Everyone knows the big names in the mix. Despite reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant and two-time league MVP Steph Curry being on the docket, they’re not going anywhere. So now the question looms, who will make the best moves, and we’re realistically looking at the Celtics, Rockets, Spurs and Cavs when pondering this, to move on up and pose  serious threat to Golden State’s dominance.

Chris Paul teaming up with James Harden was the first major domino to fall. Where Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin wind up will be the next ones.

Over the next few weeks, the landscape of the league will be significantly altered. Guys like JJ Reddick, Paul Millsap, Andre Iguodola and Kyle Lowry are in high demand, but for the sake of this discussion, we point out some players with lesser profiles that could be the free agent sleeper that tips the scales as well. 

Here’s a look at some cats who might not be huge names, but who could make an impact on teams next year trying to step up to the next level.


OTTO PORTER – One of the NBA’s best three-point shooters, his length, quickness and rebounding ability allows him to make an impact beyond the boxscore. He’s an excellent piece to a solid core and at only 24 years old is poised to be a breakout star in the years to come. 

Otto Porter Jr. Full Highlights 2016.11.09 vs Celtics – 34 Pts, 14 Rebs, 4 Ast, 3 Blks, 3 Stls!

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The top restricted free agent on the market, Porter has a tantalizing .628 true shooting percentage. This young fella is about to get paid!

SERGE IBAKA – Ibaka remains a top-notch defender who excels on that side of the floor due to his instincts and quickness, and he would be extremely valuable playing a key role as a floor spacing shot-blocker. 

Serge Ibaka Full Highlights 2016.11.13 at Thunder – Career-HIGH 31 Pts, 4 Blks in OKC Return!

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Where Ibaka excels on defense is using his quickness. He’s very good at hedging on pick and rolls while being able to either get back to guard his own man or drop into the paint to block and alter shots at the rim. He’s capable of getting buckets as a garbage man and a reliable spot-up shooter.

DANILO GALLINARI – Injuries have dogged him, but his potential. Nevertheless, he’s a versatile 6-foot-10 forwards who can guard on the perimeter, shoot, attack the rim, draw fouls and space the floor. 

Danilo Gallinari Career High 47 Points Full Highlights (4/10/2015)

“Hey man, great game tonight, too bad about the loss, huh?” Wilson Chandler wandered over to Danilo Gallinari’s locker. Danilo looked up, startled, as he hurriedly packed up his stuff. “What? Oh, yeah. I was really feeling it, and the guys kept finding me.

What he could add off the bench as a secondary or third option, or the focal point of a second unit will entice teams to spend some loot.

NERLENS NOEL – Defense wins championships, and Nerlens has the ability and fluidity to be a defensive anchor and one of the league’s elite rim protectors for many years to come. The 23 year old has only scratched his potential, and he possesses the discernible skills that make successful NBA teams with the right chemistry better. 

Nerlens Noel Full Highlights 2017.03.03 vs Grizzlies – 15 Pts, 17 Rebs, 2 Blks!

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His theoretical upside has his name percolating in many management offices.

KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE – Caldwell-Pope is an under-the-radar gem who is seen as one of the top defensive prospects in the league. At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, he has a hunger that can’t be taught and has already proven to be a menace on the wing. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Career High 38 Points/8 Threes Full Highlights (2/1/2017)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may have choked away his chance at a 40-burger by missing two free throws near the end of the game, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be super impressed. I mean, we should be thinking about the 38 points he DID score rather than the two he didn’t.

If you see how Houston, Golden State and Cleveland all attack you from the perimeter with speed, a guy like Caldwell-Pope would be a very valuable piece. His offense remains a work in progress, but on a good team where he understands his role he’ll be a top-notch complementary player. 

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