Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ranking the Top 25 NBA Free Agents and Where They May Land

1. Chris Paul

CP3 is the best free agent this year. He is the best point guard in the NBA, and is not a distraction off the court. He goes about his business just like every NBA player should, and all he wants is to win. At just six feet tall, Paul is not big, but he is the ultimate competitor. Paul can do everything, averaging 18.6 points, 9.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game over his career. Paul can shoot the ball well, he makes good decisions, and unlike most other superstars, he loves to defend. Paul can take over the game when he needs to, but he normally likes to create shots for his teammates. If there is one issue with Paul, it is his knees, but when you factor in everything else he can do, he is definitely worth the risk.

Possible Fits: Signed with LA Clippers

2. Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard's inability to settle on a decision has been well documented. It's anyone's guess where Dwight might sign. Obviously, last season in Los Angeles did not go as planned. The Lakers failed to win a playoff game, and Howard did not get along well with head coach Mike D'Antoni. D'Antoni is not going anywhere, however, which leads many to speculate that Dwight very well may be on the move. Howard wants to win a championship, but he cannot do it by himself. He has said he wants to be the man on the next team he plays for, but at the same time he wants to play with at least one other star. It's very difficult for any team to meet all of Dwight's demands, and it seems that no matter where he lands, it will only be a matter of time before he is unhappy again.

Possible Fits: Houston, Dallas, LA Lakers, Atlanta, Golden State

3. Andre Iguodala

At 13.0 points, 5.4 assists, and 5.3 rebounds, Iguodala's stats last season did not seem special. Iguodala's game, however, goes so far beyond what his numbers suggest. He is one of the best defenders in the game, and always works hard. Offensively, his shot is weak, but he can run an offense when asked. He is a very good ball handler and has great court vision as a passer. Iguodala understands his role on the team, and does not try to do more than he is asked to. At 29 years old, Iguodala wants to win now, which is likely why he opted out of the final year of his max contract. Contenders will be calling for Iguodala, as he may be the missing piece a team needs to win.

Possible Fits: New Orleans, Detroit, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Denver, Cleveland

4. Josh Smith 

Josh Smith is a multi-dimensional basketball player, averaging 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and nearly two blocks per game last season. He can affect the game in many aspects, and even at 6'9", he can also handle the ball well. Smith's major drawback, however, is that he is a below-average shooter. For his career, he is only a 28% three point shooter, which is not acceptable for a player who many label as a small forward. Also, this past season, he was only 52% from the line, which is totally unacceptable for anyone. Bottom line, Smith is a big time player who can really help a lot of teams, but his shooting appears to be something that will always hold him back.

Possible Fits: Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Dallas

5. Al Jefferson

Over his career, Al Jefferson has averaged 16.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, but he still remains one of the more underrated players in the NBA. In a league where quality centers come few and far between, Jefferson is in line for a huge pay day.  At 6'10" and 290 pounds, he is at times dominant in the post and he rarely turns the ball over. Jefferson will have many suitors this offseason, and it is very possible that he will be playing in a different uniform next season.

Possible Fits: Charlotte, Utah, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston

6. Brandon Jennings (R)

Averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 assists per game, Jennings is one of the better guards in the NBA, and at just 23 years old, he has plenty more room for growth. He is a proven scorer but he comes with a low field goal percentage due to poor shot selection. Also, his assist rates are a little low for the point guard position, something that needs to improve if he wants to keep starting there. Still, Jennings has shown what he can do, scoring 55 points in a game his rookie season. Jennings is in line for a huge contract, and it remains to be seen if Milwaukee will match any offer sheet he signs.

Possible Fits: Milwaukee, Sacramento, Atlanta, Dallas

7. Paul Millsap

Millsap averaged 14.8 points and 7.1 rebounds last season playing alongside Al Jefferson, and he is in line for a big contract. Millsap is more athletic than most other power forwards, and he has consistent mid-range jump shot. At 28 years old, Millsap will certainly be contacted by other NBA teams, but different than Jefferson, Millsap appears more likely to return to Utah.

Possible Fits: Utah, Atlanta, Charlotte

8. David West

The 6'9" power forward proved this past season that he can still play, averaging over 17 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game. This was big for a player that many assumed was falling off, averaging under 13 points and under 7 rebounds per game the year before. At 6'9" and 250 pounds, West is a legitimate NBA big, and coupled with a deadly mid-range jump, he is still a very effective player. There is mutual interest between West and the Pacers, so a return seems likely.

Possible Fits: Indiana

9. Andrew Bynum

If Andrew Bynum was healthy, there is no doubt that he would be a top five free agent in this class. At 7'0" and 285 pounds, he could be a huge asset on the court for any team. Unfortunately, Bynum is nowhere near healthy. His knees are so fragile that even if he returns, it seems as if it will only be a matter of time before he gets hurt again. Bynum will be looking for a big contract this offseason, though it is highly doubtful that any team will give him one. Putting too much trust into a fragile Bynum could completely derail a team's season (See: Sixers, Philadelphia). There is no doubt, however, that a team will take a risk on Bynum for next season, and it could pay huge dividends if he gets healthy.

Possible Fits: Dallas, Cleveland, Portland, LA Lakers

10. Nikola Pekovic (R)

For those of you who don't know, Pekovic is an absolute animal. At 6'11" and 290 pounds, he may be the biggest man in the game today. Averaging over 16 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game last year,  Pekovic is a legitimate starting center in the NBA. Unfortunately for other teams who may be interested in his services, Pekovic is a restricted free agent, and Minnesota loves him. Although he may receive some big offers this offseason, it is very unlikely the Nikola Pekovic will be playing anywhere other than Minnesota next season.

Possible Fits: Minnesota, Portland, Cleveland

11. Tony Allen

Allen is widely regarded as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. Although his offensive game is suspect at best, as defense easily makes up for it. Allen would thrive on a team that has many other offensive options, so he can just focus on what he does best. Good defensive players are hard to come by in the NBA, and Allen will be sought after by many teams this offseason.

Possible Fits: Memphis, Oklahoma City, New York, Indiana, LA Clippers, Denver

12. Jeff Teague (R)

Teague has improved as a player every year in the NBA, and he took a huge jump as a point guard this past season. Averaging 14.6 points per game last season, the 25 year-old point guard saw his assists averages rise to 7.2 per game, up from 4.9 per game the season before. Teague is a decent shooter and a quick player, and will probably receive a good offer this offseason. It does not appear likely that Teague will leave Atlanta though, as the Hawks will have enough money to match any offer sheet he will sign.

Possible Fits: Atlanta, Milwaukee, Dallas

13. Tyreke Evans (R)

Averaging 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game as a rookie, Tyreke Evans was labeled by many as the league's next star player. Every season since his rookie year, however, his stats have regressed to the point where he only averaged 15.2 points, 3.5 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game. Still, at just 23 years of age, Evans still has plenty of time to figure things out in his NBA career. He will likely receive a large offer sheet this offseason that the Sacramento Kings may not match, as Evans may just need a little change of scenery to get his career back on track.

Possible Fits: New Orleans, Sacramento, Detroit

14. Jarrett Jack

Jarrett Jack played a huge role for the Warriors last season. Despite coming off the bench, Jack became a leader for that young team and stepped up big in the playoffs. Averaging 12.9 points and 5.6 assists per game during the regular season, Jack averaged over 17 points per game in the playoffs, to go along with 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. He is a smart player and a good shooter, and he could easily fill the same role for this upcoming season for the Warriors or another young team.

Possible Fits: Golden State, Indiana, Cleveland, Denver, Dallas

15. Tiago Splitter (R)

Tiago Splitter had his best year in the NBA this past season, starting 58 games and averaging 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, as well as shooting 56% from the field. Playing under 25 minutes per game, however, the 6'11" center will likely look for a situation where he can receive more playing time. If Splitter is to sign an offer sheet with another team this offseason, the Spurs will have the chance to keep him by matching the offer sheet, as he is a restricted free agent.

Possible Fits: San Antonio, Portland, Atlanta, Dallas

16. Monta Ellis

Ellis has always been known as a scorer in the NBA, but with his bad shot selection and inconsistent defensive effort, he often hurts his team just as much as he helps. Though Ellis does manage to average 6.0 assists per game, he also averages over 3 turnovers per game. Personally, I think Ellis has been misused as a starter throughout his career. Ellis would be much more effective as a sixth man on a good team, playing a similar role as JR Smith played with the Knicks. If Ellis would sign as a sixth man rather than a starter, he would be a much more effective player.

Possible Fits: New York, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Dallas

17. JR Smith

Coming off a big year in which he averaged 18.1 points per game and won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award, Smith's value has never been higher, and he seems to be in line for a large contract. Although Smith scores a lot, he makes a lot of poor decisions and plays nearly no defense. Smith can be a very good scorer, but his play is inconsistent and can be frustrating for whoever he signs with.

Possible Fits: Milwaukee, Utah, Phoenix, New York

18. JJ Redick

Redick had a breakout season this past year, averaging 14.1 points per game. He is an elite shooter who really helps spread the floor when he is on the court. At 29 years old, Redick is playing the best basketball of his career, and his contract year could not have come at a better time. His value is higher than it has ever been, and he may be in line to cash in with a team in need of a shooter.

Possible Fits: LA Clippers, Chicago, Indiana, Minnesota, LA Lakers

19. OJ Mayo

Through five years in the NBA, Mayo's inconsistencies have been well documented. Averaging nearly 18 points per game before the All Star break last season, he averaged under 11 points after the break. Mayo is very tough to predict and he is a big risk, but if he can somehow manage to put it all together, he could prove to be one of the better scorers in the league.

Possible Fits: Chicago, LA Clippers, Minnesota, Utah

20. Carl Landry

Landry was a very effective role player for the Warriors last season, but he opted-out of his contract after the season ended. At 29 years old, Landry has played some good years in the NBA, but he has never had the opportunity to start over a full season. Over his career, Landry's averages per 36 minutes are 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds, and he will likely be looking for a job where he can finally play more than the 23.2 minutes per game he got last. Landry seems to be undervalued on this market, and one team may get a steal with him this offseason.

Possible Fits: Golden State, Portland, Boston, LA Clippers

21. Kevin Martin

Martin played as well as he could last season, but he was not able to fill the void in Oklahoma City left by James Harden. He can no longer average 20 points per game, and aside from his stellar shooting, he does not bring much to the table. He is a one-dimensional basketball player who offers nearly nothing on the defensive end. At 30 years old, Martin can still contribute as a shooter to a good NBA team, but not much else.

Possible Fits: Oklahoma City, Indiana, Dallas, Portland

22. Manu Ginobili

Yes, Manu is a free agent, and that does mean he is free to talk with other teams. However, after playing his entire career in San Antonio, one can only imagine that he would want to return to the Spurs and presumably finish out his career there, especially after making it all the way to the NBA Finals this past season. Even though there is no denying the fact that Ginobili's role is diminishing in San Antonio, finding another place where he could play an even larger role and still compete for a championship would be very hard to find. 

Possible Fits: San Antonio

23. Mo Williams

At 30 years of age, Williams is no longer the player he once was. Ideally, the best situation for Williams would be on a contending team where he would play significant minutes off the bench, similar to Jarrett Jack in Golden State this past season. Williams, however, has reportedly informed the Jazz that he will not return unless he is the starting point guard next season. With the Jazz drafting Trey Burke, it is likely Williams will have to look elsewhere for a starting job. I just cannot see Mo Williams as the starting point guard for a contending team, and in league with such an abundance of point guards, finding a starting job anywhere may be tough.

Possible Fits: Atlanta, Utah, Boston, Chicago, Sacramento

24. Darren Collison

Averaging 12.0 points and 5.1 assists per game this past season for Dallas, Collison is nothing special. Still, at just 25 years old, he is a respectable player in the NBA, and could serve as a quality backup point guard for many teams. This will likely be the job he lands, as there are just not too many teams who will turn to him to be their starter. 

Possible Fits: Dallas, Indiana, New Orleans, Atlanta

25. Al-Farouq Aminu

Aminu is an interesting player who is still early in his basketball career. Starting 71 games for the Hornets last season, the 6'9" forward averaged 7.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He is just 22 years old and one would assume that he has plenty more room for growth in his game. Still, at a mere 215 pounds to go along with an awful jump shot, he has been labeled a 'tweener' in today's game. Furthermore, he has a poor feel for the game and is a turnover machine. In spite of all this, Aminu is a freakishly good athlete who truly could develop into one of the best defenders in the NBA, which could make him a huge, low-risk steal in free agency.

Possible Fits: New Orleans, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Phoenix

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