Now we can talk about the fun stuff – actual basketball. The next few weeks are going to be crazy, with teams racing to get ready for the season while adding a ton of new faces to their rosters at the same time.
We all know about next year’s monster free agents, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But there are some nice players available now you’d love to have on your squad.
Here are my top 20 available free agents. They are not ranked based on how good I think they are. They’re ranked on their ability to help your team win a title and their value (production vs. cost). Also, this list does not include guys who may potentially be made available via the amnesty rule (Brandon Roy, Baron Davis, Rashard Lewis, etc.).
Restricted free agents are marked with an asterisk.
20. Glen Davis – Big Baby is a great energy guy who can play a vital role for lots of teams coming off the bench. When we saw him this summer, he looked like he was in shape. Considering the Celtics barely have a starting five currently signed, it would be in their best interest to keep Davis in the fold.
19. Kris Humphries – Last season Humphries averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and about a block per game. Consistent double-doubles don’t grow on trees. If a team is willing to take on the Kardashian media circus that will inevitably be following him for the foreseeable future, he’d be a solid addition.
18. Samuel Dalembert – On paper, a seven-footer who can run, jump, block shots and knock down the occasional 10-footer is like gold. In reality, Sammy D has never come close to putting it all together. Some team out there though thinks that they’re smart enough to get him in a position to succeed.
17. Thaddeus Young *– He doesn’t rebound or defend like a guy with his size and athleticism should, but anyone who saw his performance in last year’s playoff series against the Heat knows that Thad could be a special player.
16. Shane Battier – How much do other NBA players love Battier’s game? When Kevin Durant is openly recruiting you in front of the entire world, you know Battier’s in a great spot to pick and choose where he wants to play.
15. Nick Young *– There’s zero doubt that Nick Young can put the ball in the basket. But can ever do everything else that’s required to be a full-time impactful NBA player? Teams looking for scoring punch off the pine will surely take a chance in Young.
14. Jeff Green *– His basketball IQ is off the charts and his teammates rave about his skill level, even if he doesn’t jump out at you when you’re watching one of his game. Just an awesome guy to have in the lineup.
13. Rodney Stuckey *– Because he’s been stranded in the wasteland that is Detroit Pistons basketball, people forget that Stuckey is one of the most explosive guards in the League.
12. Carl Landry – Just like you the thought that you can’t have too many shooters, you also can’t have too many warriors. Landry is the NBA’s ultimate warrior. And he can score a little too.
11. Arron Afflalo *– Afflalo really started to come into his own last year with the Denver Nuggets, both as a defender and as a perimeter scoring threat. Every team needs versatile guys like Afflalo who can match up with opponents like LeBron, Wade and Melo.
10. Wilson Chandler *– Super athletic and all the talent in the world. If he can put it all together with some consistency, he’s a great 5th or 6th man for a contender.
9. Caron Butler – Injuries have killed him, but he may be the most talented ballplayer on this entire list.
8. David West – One of the best shooting big men in the game, which is a big plus as he enters later years of his career.
7. Jamal Crawford – Very few players in the league can create their own shot off the dribble as well as Crawford. A natural scorer. What team wouldn’t want him as their first guard off the bench?
6. J.R. Smith – Like Barea, he’s a game-changer. Has range out to 28 feet. Super athletic and scores buckets in a hurry. The 2011 version of The Microwave. There were all sorts of reports about Smith severely injuring his knee in China last week. We’ll see how healthy he is once he starts talking to NBA teams.
5. Tyson Chandler – Has settled into his role as a very solid rebounder, defender, and pick-and-roll center. Finally looks 100% comfortable on the floor.
4. DeAndre Jordan *– A ton of potential as a rebounder and shot-blocker. Doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make a contribution. Perfect alongside Blake Griffin. The Clippers would be crazy to let him go.
3. J.J. Barea – The Devin Hester of the NBA. A true game-changer. Creates match-up problems and gives opposing teams 30 minutes of hell.
2. Marc Gasol *– Had a down year last season, but there’s not a team in the NBA that wouldn’t still love to have him.
1. Nene – No, he’s not a perennial All-Star center. But he’s very solid and he’s te best available at the thinnest position in the league. And he picked a great time to have a big year.
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