2012 NBA Free Agents: Breaking Down Best Player Available at Every Position
With the NBA playoffs all set to begin, it's only a matter of time before next season's free agent class hits the open market.
Here’s an early look at the best player at each position that will be in the 2012 class of free agents.
Point Guard: Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets
Who's the top free-agent point guard?
The free agent class of point guards isn’t a bad one. It features the likes of Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin (RFA), Ramon Felton, Jason Kidd, Ramon Sessions (player option), D.J. Augustin (RFA) and plenty others. But Williams is the cream of the crop.
He’s in his prime at only 27-years old and has put up fantastic career numbers in his seven NBA seasons, including 17.6 PPG, 9.6 APG, a .455 field goal percentage and a .366 three-point percentage.
Williams has had a good season on a bad Nets team, making his third consecutive All-Star team, and he will certainly be one of the few free agents to land a max contract come summer time.
Shooting Guard: Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
Allen may not be in his prime anymore, and he is coming off a bad season in which he’s been injured a lot and lost his starting job to Avery Bradley, but the future Hall of Famer can still shoot the ball, even at the age of 36.
The NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals is still shooting .453 from behind the arc (fifth in NBA) and could be the missing piece for a contending team looking to take the next step.
There are younger options, such as Nick Young, Eric Gordon (RFA), O.J. Mayo (RFA) and J.R Smith (player option), but none have the pedigree of Allen.
Small Forward: Steve Novak, New York Knicks
The small forward class is very thin. With Nicolas Batum, who Portland will definitely keep, a restricted free agent and Gerald Wallace likely to exercise his player option with the Nets, Novak may be the next best option.
He’s leading the NBA in three-point shooting at .468 and should draw some decent money from a team in the offseason. Novak doesn’t do much else well but shoot, but teams can’t have enough good shooting, and right now, no one in the league is shooting it as well as Novak.
Power Forward: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
At age 35, Duncan has proven that he still has something left in the tank. He put up a solid season, averaging 15.4 PPG and 9.0 RPG, and helped lead the Spurs to the best record in the Western Conference.
It’s extremely doubtful that Duncan will ever play in NBA game not in a Spurs uniform, and he won’t command a huge contract anymore, but in a decent class of power forwards—which includes Brandon Bass (player option), Michael Beasley (RFA), Kris Humphries and Antawn Jamison—the future Hall of Famer Duncan is still the best short-term option.
Center: Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Just like Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers moving Garnett to center, I did the same, because him being able to effectively play the 5 has upped his value for next season.
There are plenty of good young centers who will be restricted free agents, including Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez and JaVale McGee, but all three are likely to be kept by their current teams.
Garnett is the best of an unrestricted class, and he has shown this season that, even though he was expected to start breaking down by now, he’s still an effective option, averaging 16.0 PPG and 8.3 RPG on the season.
While this isn’t the greatest free-agent class in the world, the older veterans may be the best options, especially on short-term contracts with contending teams. Free agency is only a couple of months away from beginning, but it surely will be something worth keeping an eye on.
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