2012 Free Agent Theme Day: Carl Landry, one of the NBA's biggest free agent steals

Landry has been one of the more pleasant surprises on a team full of them. - Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Golden State Warriors forward Carl Landry has been one of the biggest steals in NBA free agency this year.

Before the start of the season, I wrote a fan post trying to dissect the Golden State Warriors' two main off-season acquisitions that no one was talking about: the two-year, $8 million deal to power forward Carl Landry.

So I wrote this:

Let's hope we don't get to know them too well.

Yeah, we know them pretty well, and that's working out for Dubs fans. Never have I felt so good when wrong.

I can't speak for everyone else but my expectations for Carl Landry were as passive as David Lee was on defense a year ago. A somewhat underrated power forward, I wasn't going to overhype his underratedness, therefore causing an overratedness which might lead to some kind of otherratedness (I swear those words sounded better in my head).

So without much fanfare, Landry came out and was arguably the team's best player for a little over a month.

Providing a boost off the bench, he came in each game and sparked the team's offense and energy. While his play has dropped off slightly from that torrid first stretch of the season, Landry is still making plays, especially on the offensive end alongside David Lee where they form an almost unstoppable pick-and-roll passing offense in crunch time.

Last year, Landry shot 27 percent of his shots from close-range but he has improved that this season, shooting 37 percent of his shots from that range. He is also shooting exactly the same percentages from every spot on the floor except from 11-15 feet, where he only shoots 27 percent of the time, according to 82 Games. His PER is also above average at 18.28.

Landry still isn't much of a distributor, as he only averages .8 assists per game, but that isn't his goal, especially on a team with so many willing passers. And similar to many Warriors this season, his rebounding numbers have jumped up from a career 5.3 per game to 6.5. The team's most reliable interior scorer, Landry's grind-it-out toughness on the low block, especially his kind-of-travel-but-not-really step-through through the lane has been very successful all season. Simply put, he is put in the perfect position to succeed and he has done so at an efficient rate.

As for the bigger picture, the contract was of the bargain bin variety because most teams passed on him until the Dubs swooped in at the very last second. Signing him turned out to be a bit like the Warriors season: on one hand, there was a bit of cautious optimism where we did believe he was underrated and $8 million didn't hurt future moves, if there were any. And on the other, everyone was excited for the season but at the same time knowing what injuries and typical Warriors-ism may do to ruin that party.

So when Landry came out balling, scoring 85 points in his first five games while the Warriors were off to one of the best starts in franchise history, the cautious optimism was slowly pulled back to reveal what the organization is slowly becoming—one that is able to recognize and cultivate talent and put them in positions to ultimately succeed.


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