The NBA is taking the media world by storm. Everyone is talking about “Where is Chris Paul going” and “Where is Dwight Howard going”. Everyone is trying to make moves to better their team at this point post lockout. There will be a firestorm of moves starting this Friday–I repeat–THIS FRIDAY starting at 2 O’clock. You may want to take off of work for this one folks, it will be over in a flash.
Some teams could go from being a three to five seed in their conference to being a two or a one seed in a matter of hours. It seems too good to be true for some of us. There isn’t a real piece that will be a franchise changer in this free agency class; however, there are a lot of guys that can give you that one thing that a team has been missing to put you over that hurdle.
I’m going to give you the top 10 guys to look for in this free agency class. I’ll tell you where I think they should go and why they would be a perfect fit. Keep in mind the type of free agents these guys are (restricted or unrestricted) come into play, how much cap space these teams have, and the type of deals that these guys will get help determine these rankings.
NeNe is the top free agent in this class. He led the league in field goal percentage last season at a .615 mark. That’s outstanding for a teams number one option after all of the Melo drama that plagued the Nuggets for a chunk of last season. After that situation the Nuggets improved dramatically defensively and in offensive efficiency. NeNe was the main cog for the team on both sides of the ball. He was the convoy for the Nuggets wagon; their offense ran through him and in the regular season he dominated. He is about 6’10 and he can play both the 4 position and the 5 position.
Where he would fit best: I think that NeNe would be best suited staying in Denver. There aren’t a lot of teams with the cap space and the need to take him in. He will be looking for a deal around the tune of 4 years and 60-70 million dollars. Do I think he is worth that? No, but in this class that is what he’ll be able to command. Another good fit for him would be the Houston Rockets. Kevin Mchale likes to run his offensive system around his Bigs. NeNe is a player that is pretty sound on the block. His post game isn’t the prettiest but he obviously gets the job done. The only struggle that NeNe has is rebounding. He’s got all of that height and only about 7 rebounds to show for it. This is why I think that before NeNe comes to your team, you need to find a good complement for him. His 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds can only do so much for your team.
Other suitors: Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks.
Caron Butler is pretty high on my list as the second free agent here. He would’ve been the first if not for a season ending knee injury last season. If he didn’t have that injury I doubt Mark Cuban would let him walk the way he is now. In 29 starts last season, Butler was a key part of the equation to the Mavs puzzle. They went 21 and 8 with him starting for the team. In those starts he averaged 15 points and 4 rebounds for the Mavericks. He should be able to give a team that same production given the fact that he’s been rehabing for almost a year now. Hopefully that knee is back to full form and he could possibly do that and even more. Maybe he will go back to his former All Star form that we Wizard fans know and love.
Where he would fit best: I think that Butler would be a great fit with the Chicago Bulls. During the season last year, we saw the Bulls playing a lot of what I’d like to call “Regular Season Basketball.” This is when you run your offense through one person. That person is depended upon constantly to create shots for himself and his teammates at least 85% of the time. It’s no secret that the Bulls ran their offense through Derrick Rose–the NBA’s MVP– more often than not and it worked too. It allowed them to gain a number one seed in the Eastern Conference. We saw Lebron James in that same type of offense in Cleveland. They get a great ball handler and a passer who has elite athleticism and quickness. He’s able to get into the lane and kick it out to shooters or hit a cutting big behind him most of the time. The problem is that in a 7 game series you’re going to need more than one option. That type of offense is just as predictable as isolation basketball. When a team sees you for more than one game consecutively they will figure out your tendencies almost every time. That’s why the Bulls need Caron. They need someone who is able to create their own offense. He may not be a jump shooter, but he can get buckets on his own. That’s a pressing need for Chicago. Butler is looking at the normal Mid Level for his services depending on the team. At most I think he’ll get 7 to 8 million dollars per year on about a 3 year deal.
Other Suitors: The Los Angeles Clippers (very strong), The Dallas Mavericks, The San Antonio Spurs, and The New Jersey Nets.
Coming in at three is David West. Coming off of an ACL injury, which is crucial, West is a guy who could consistently get you 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists off of post work. He can step out and hit from about 18-20 feet also. His game is similar to that of Chris Bosh. I would put a buyer beware sign on David West because he has a recent ACL injury. It takes guys years to come back off of an injury of that nature. This is a very similar situation to Caron Butler. He’s also 31 years old, but he really has a nice group of moves and presence of fundamentals in his game to cover that up. If he can run and jump then you’ll get a very good player. At best he will put up all-star quality numbers. At his worse I think West will give you about 15 and 5 which isn’t bad for some teams. I think he’ll command a deal within that 2 to 4 year range for about 5 million to 9 million also. He could wind up just getting the normal midlevel from a team with enough space.
Where he would fit best: David West would be a good fit in Indiana. He doesn’t really play to their strength in rebounding–they were 5th in the league–but they have the guys around him who can cover that up. Its looking like Josh McRoberts will end up walking away and if they can’t retain Jeff Foster that’ll be 2 power forwards off of a roster that was stacked with them a few months ago. Pshyco T would be their starting player at the 4; while that isn’t a bad option, I think you should at least have David West as an insurance policy. Hansborough could get more minutes than West in the end, but he isn’t able to score on the block like West. That’s what David can provide you with. Also, I’m sure he’ll be able to grab you at least 5 rebounds a game. West would be a great addition to a front court that could possibly use some help.
Jamal Crawford could be considered the best free agent out on the market this season but I have him at four. I have him coming in at number four on my list. Crawford is really the true essence of a scorer. No matter how he did the night before, the hour before, the second before, he will not hesitate to put up a shot. Contest or no contest he sees every shot he puts up as a bucket. It does not matter where it’s from or how he does it. That’s the type of scorers mentality that some teams need. He’s a guy that if you can give him at least 30 minutes a game he can give you somewhere between 15-20 points. It doesn’t matter to him whether he is a starter or a reserve either. Also, another enticing number for you all is that from beyond the arch Jamal is at a .350 mark for his career. For a guy that puts up a lot of shots that’s pretty high. Crawford is versatile; he can play the 2 or back up your point guard. Getting his own shot off has never been a problem for him. Last but not least, they don’t call him Mr.4pointplay for no reason. He leads the NBA all time in number of 4 point plays. That’s an irrelevant stat but it’s just another part of his repertoire of weapons that Crawford can present to a team that lacks scoring. He will command somewhere between 3 to 4 years and a price tag between 30-40 million a year.
Where he would fit best: Crawford would be a nice fit for a lot of teams. Someone like the New Jersey Nets could use him to take some of the scoring load off of Deron Williams. Outside of Williams there isn’t really anyone who can get their own shot on the Nets. Crawford would give teams another player to watch out for. This could be said for a lot of teams also. There are a lot of teams who could use Crawford’s services in the NBA.
Other suitors: Chicago, New Orleans, Indiana, Minnesota, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, and Portland.
Tyson Chandler comes in at five on my list. He’s a guy who can consistently give you some blocked shots here and there. He can give you ten rebounds also, with about 7 to ten points a game. He isn’t really going to be someones pick up for his offense to say the least. He’s a glue guy that will improve your team’s defense. If you funnel everything to the middle where he is, you can rely on him to protect the rim. That’s an underrated attribute in the league. He’ll command about 60 million dollars on a 3 to 4 year deal.
Where he would fit best:Chandler would be a great pickup for a team like the Warriors. This is a young team that is trying to find their identity once again. They struggle on the defensive end of the floor so why not pick up someone who can bring that same attribute to your team? It would be a perfect match in my opinion; with or without Chris Paul…
Other suitors: Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks
6. Arron Afflalo
Afflalo comes in at six on my list. He is probably the prototype 2 guard in the NBA. He doesn’t do anything great he just does everything good. Sometimes that’s enough to get your team over the hump in the NBA. He can create off the dribble pretty well and seldom will he make a bad decision with the ball in his hands. Afflalo shot near 50% from the field last season which is outstanding for a guard. Also he’s hitting at a clip of 40 percent career from 3 point range. This guy is an excellent defender who never gives up on a play. He’s the ultimate role player that can give you starting minutes or time off the bench. He’ll do whatever you ask of him and give a locker room a veteran presence.
Where he would fit: Afflalo would be a perfect match for Derrick Rose and the Bulls. This is a guy who doesn’t really have problems creating his own shot off the dribble and is a consistent shooter. He can play whatever role coach Thibs asks him to play. He also fits perfectly into their defensive scheme. This would be the perfect player for them.
Other suitors: Denver, Atlanta, New York, Dallas, New Orleans.
Marc Gasol comes in at number seven on my list. Gasol is a guy who would come in much higher if he wasn’t a restricted free agent. It’s likely that the Grizzlies will retain Gasol; especially after the momentum that they caught last season. Gasol really left his mark–no pun intended–in the playoffs by averaging 15 and 11. In his third year it seems like he is really coming on as a player and is only going to get better. That’s why it would be absurd for the Grizzlies to let him go. His ability to one on one and team defend is outstanding.
Where he would fit best: I think he should stay right where he is at in Memphis. They’ll have the best offer for him at the end of the day and he is the perfect complement to Zach Randolph
Other Suitors: Indiana, Houston, Minnesota, LA Clippers
8. Kris Humphries
I have the former Kardashian as my number eight top free agent. He was a double double guy which is something that a lot of people don’t know. He came in fifth in the rebounding totals for last year with 10.5. He shot 52.7% from the field which is more than respectable. He’s an underrated player in the NBA for sure.
Where he would fit best:I could see Humphries ending up in Indiana the most because of his rebounding ability. That’s one of the things that Frank Vogel is keen on; rebounding is a focus of the Pacers. He fits their style perfectly.
Other Suitors: Houston, Toronto, Detroit, Boston, New Orleans, Phoenix
Big Baby comes in at number nine on my list. He fell off at the end of last season and seemed to lose focus; that will probably steer some teams away. If you get the right Glen Davis, though, he’s a pretty productive player. He’s a master at drawing offensive fouls and rotating defensively. Rebounding and scoring aren’t really his strong suits. He’s good for a few jumpers every once in a while, but that’s about all. He’s a defensive guy, and that’s all his buyers are worried about.
Where he would fit best: Big Baby would be a good fit in Phoenix. He could be a rotation player for them–where they give a lot of time–and flourish in that system. He’ll be able to get to his spot offensively more often than not and also bring a nice defensive presence one on one for them.
Nick Young is my final free agent of notoriety. He’s a guy that doesn’t really pass the ball because of his scorer’s mentality. Because of that mentality he can get you 16 to 20 a night. His shot selection isn’t always the best, but when he’s on he can get you 40 points. I know, as a Wizards guy, how valuable Nick actually could be if he was coached good shot selection. This guy can create his own offense and has no trouble running off screens and shooting the 3 ball.
Where he fits best:I’d love to see Nick back with the Wizards, but he could go to a contender in the Chicago Bulls. They need someone who can create their own shot as we all know. If Nick would actually pick someone up on defense half the time–which I think coach Thibs would make him do–then I could see him becoming a great building block for the Bulls.
Other suitors: Washington, New Orleans, Indiana, Atlanta, Phoenix, and New York.
Those guys could be game changers for your team! Free Agency has already started under the table; don’t be suprised if anything happens while I’m typing this. I know I wouldn’t be. Til next time folks!
Michael Sykes, II is a writer for the sportsblogmovement. Follow us on twitter; use the hashtag