NBA Free Agency 2012: Players from Class of 2008 Who Deserve Raises

Danny Paskas@DannyPaskasSenior Analyst IApril 10, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Players from Class of 2008 Who Deserve Raises

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    This year's free agency is judgement time for the draft class of 2008. The first-round picks are restricted free agents while the second-round picks are unrestricted.

    It is time for teams to decide if they are going to give their players a qualifying offer which would give them another year to prove themselves, or simply let them walk.

    Another option for each team is letting the market determine the player's value. Teams can match any offer as long as the player is a restricted free agent. This is the case with Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez and Ryan Anderson, among others.

    The last option is to give the player a long-term deal.

    Here are players who will be getting raises during this year's free agency.  

Ersan Ilyasova

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    Ersan Ilyasova was not part of the draft class of 2008; he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 2005 draft.

    After making his Bucks debut in 2006, he went on to play overseas until 2009, when he began his real stint in Milwaukee.

    Ilyasova is similar to a second-round pick in 2008 because of his age. He's only 24, and he also becomes an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

    His situation is similar to Goran Dragic, who was a second-round pick in 2008 and becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

    This season Ilyasova is making $2.54 million while averaging a career high 13 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He is doing all this in just 27.6 minutes per game.

    He's had 22 games where he's grabbed double-digit rebounds and also has 16 double-doubles.

    Ilyasova can also shoot from deep, averaging a 44.9 percent clip from beyond the arc this season.

Brook Lopez

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    Brook Lopez has only played in a total of five games this season after suffering a broken foot during the preseason followed by an ankle injury.

    With that said, Lopez has already proven that he is one of the best offensive centers in the game during his first three years in the league.

    He averaged 13 points and 8.1 rebounds during his rookie season and 18.8 points and 8.7 rebounds during his sophomore season. In his third season he raised his scoring average to 20.4 points, but his rebounding dipped to just 5.9 per game.

    Lopez has never been injury-prone in his career prior to this season, missing zero games during his second and third seasons in the league.

    Teams will take a chance on him, hoping that he returns to 100 percent and improves his rebounding.

    This season Lopez is making a little over $3 million. His salary will likely triple next year.

Roy Hibbert

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    Roy Hibbert has developed nicely since being drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 17th pick in the 2008 draft. He was a first-time All-Star this season, averaging 12.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and two blocks per game for the year.

    Hibbert is not a stat-stuffing center. He is not the first or even the second scoring option on his team. The Pacers are more of a perimeter-oriented team who rely on Hibbert for his rebounding and strong inside defense.

    He is a legitimate 7'2'' center who is fundamentally sound, which is a rare commodity in today's league.

    While Hibbert does have some offensive skills near the basket, he rarely uses them. His job on offense is to kick it out to Danny Granger or Paul George.

    This season, he is making slightly more than $2.5 million. Luckily for the Pacers, they have the abundance of cap room to give Hibbert his raise. If they didn't, some center-starved team may have given Hibbert a ridiculous offer to try and snatch him away. 

Ryan Anderson

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    Ryan Anderson has quietly become one of the league's best stretch fours. He is having his breakout season this year, averaging 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds, both career highs.

    Anderson is also averaging 2.9 three pointers per game and is leading the league in three-pointers made with 152. All while shooting 41 percent from deep.

    While he may be somewhat of a product in a system that allows three-point shooters to get a ton of open looks with Dwight Howard drawing defenders closer to the basket, other teams will offer Anderson more than his current $2,244,601 salary.

    If Anderson doesn't get a raise from the Orlando Magic, the money will come from other suitors. Especially since this year's free-agency class is not all that deep.

Eric Gordon

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    Before being the centerpiece in the trade that brought Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers, Eric Gordon looked like he was on his way to becoming a future All-Star.

    In his first two seasons in the league, Gordon averaged 16.1 and 16.9 points per game. In his third season, he raised his scoring to 22.3 points per game.

    Since the trade, Gordon has only appeared in five games this season due to a knee injury followed by a recent back injury.

    He looked good in the five games he played, averaging 19.1 points per game and even dropping 31 on the San Antonio Spurs.

    Although Gordon is injury prone (he missed 50 games due to injury in his first three seasons), his talent is too much to pass up.

    This season he is making a little over $3.8 million. If the New Orleans Hornets do not offer him a big raise, many other teams (like his hometown Indiana Pacers) will gladly give him one regardless of his injury history. 

Nicolas Batum

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    Portland pulled a fast one on the Houston Rockets during the 2008 draft when they sent the Rockets Darrell Arthur and Joey Dorsey for the rights of Nicolas Batum, the 25th overall pick.

    Batum has a versatile game as he can run the floor, shoot from the arc and defend due to his abnormal arm length. At 6'8'', Batum has a 7'1'' wingspan.

    This season Batum is averaging 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, both career highs. He is also shooting 38.9 percent from deep, also a career best.

    He is a good rebounder at his position. In his last five games, he recorded two double-doubles.

    Batum is making just a little over $2.1 million this season. His salary will triple next season.

Goran Dragic

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    With the way Goran Dragic is playing this season filling in for injured Houston Rockets starting point guard Kyle Lowry, it is hard to believe that he was a mid-second round pick in the 2008 draft.

    It's even harder to believe that the Phoenix Suns sent Dragic to the Rockets along with a lottery protected first-round pick for Aaron Brooks.

    Phoenix could have done much worse with Dragic being Steve Nash's heir apparent.

    This season, Dragic has kept the surprising Rockets in playoff contention with his stellar play.

    While his numbers are up across the board this year with averages of 10.8 points, 4.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game, his stats still seem underwhelming.

    What stands out is Dragic's most recent play. Averaging almost 21 points, eight assists and two steals per game, he was named NBA Player of the Week.

    With a salary of a little over $2 million and the fact that he is a 25-year-old unrestricted free agent, Dragic will have teams in need of a point guard calling to thicken his wallet. Portland possibly?