After the NBA opted not to have a bubble campus for the 2020-21 season, the teams shifted back to their usual operations of hosting home games and traveling on the road for away games. Teams also have more back-to-back tilts against the same opponents in order to lessen the need to be on the road.
However, the schedule change wasn’t enough as rosters continue to be shredded due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many teams fail to meet the minimum of eight available players, which has already caused a handful of games to be postponed to a later date.
With a significant number of players already sitting out due to the virus and a handful of other reasons, teams can opt to search in the free agent market for a reliable replacement that they can field in for the time being.
Here are five NBA free agents who can still make an impact for most teams this season.
5. Allen Crabbe
Starting off the list is free agent swingman Allen Crabbe who last played for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2019-20 season. His stay in Minneapolis turned out to be a short stint for him as he only suited up for nine games and produced 3.2 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.6 assists.
However, the 28-year-old already proved that he can serve as a reliable presence once he is given sufficient minutes on the floor. Crabbe was a notable member of the 2017-18 Brooklyn Nets squad where he tallied his NBA career-high numbers of 13.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 29.3 minutes through 75 appearances.
His solid contributions allowed him to have another stint with the Nets in the following season before he was shipped to the Atlanta Hawks back in July of 2019. Allen Crabbe can serve as a viable option for any team looking for a 3-and-D player who can make an impact on both ends of the floor should they wade into the available NBA free agents.
4. Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver may not be the same sharpshooter that he once was, but he is still a savvy veteran who is worthy of a roster spot. He is coming off a one-year stint with the Milwaukee Bucks where he posted norms of 6.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists through 58 games last season.
Despite getting limited action, Korver’s shooting touch never wavered. He still shot 41.8 percent from beyond the arc and 85.4 percent from the free throw line last season. The 39-year-old can still be of service to any team that is looking for a reliable shooter who can still knock down shots regularly. Moreover, teams can already get the most out of Korver by simply allowing him to be a mentor for the young players and serve as an NBA veteran presence in the locker room.
3. Shabazz Napier
The fact that Shabazz Napier was left without a team even after a career season was mind-blowing in itself. The former UConn product last played for the Washington Wizards in the latter half of the 2019-20 season. With John Wall still out, Napier eventually came off the bench and saw significant minutes in the backcourt rotation alongside Bradley Beal.
He recorded a career-high tally of 11.6 points on 42.8 percent shooting from the field along with 2.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 20 appearances for Washington last season. Napier won’t tally eye-popping numbers but he is capable of providing a spark off the bench as he is still at the peak of his career at 29 years old.
2. Dewayne Dedmon
Dewayne Dedmon is another player who has been surprisingly left off rosters for the 2020-21 season. He last saw action for the Hawks where he generated averages of 8.1 points along with a career-best 8.2 rebounds with an impressive 87.5 percent shooting from the free throw line in 10 games last season.
Back in November of 2020, the Hawks traded Dedmon to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Tony Snell and Khyri Thomas. He didn’t suit up for Motor City as he was eventually waived by the team a few days later.
In his 11th year in the league, Dewayne Dedmon can still be a presence in the paint most especially for teams that currently have a depleted front-line rotation.
1. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Perhaps the most surprising of NBA free agents this moment is veteran swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The 26-year-old served as a key piece in the second unit of the Toronto Raptors last season. He averaged 7.0 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the field along with 4.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists through 60 games played.
His defensive prowess still serves as his biggest asset, which helped him thrive in the league in recent seasons. He was instated in the same role last season as he was often tasked by head coach Nick Nurse to guard the opposing team’s best player on a regular basis.
Hollis-Jefferson was previously acquired by the Timberwolves where he suited up during the preseason proceedings. However, he failed to secure a roster spot and was eventually waived prior to the start of the NBA regular season.
His offense may need to find its consistency but teams can expect him to make an impact on the defensive end. With his 7’2″ wingspan, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can still bother opposing players and serve as a matchup problem, most especially on the wings on any given night.