NBA Free Agency: The Top Remaining Free Agent at Each Position
The NBA Free Agency period is in full swing, with blockbuster deals seeming to happen at least once or twice a day.
From Joe Johnson and Deron Williams pairing up in Brooklyn to the Lakers landing Steve Nash, to anything in-between, this has to be one of the more fast-paced, exciting off-seasons in the last decade or so.
And this is all with an average free agent class; I can't wait until 2013, when a lot more big names come off the books!
Now that so many of the top players are off of the free agent board, it's harder and harder to find players at each position who can give a team a boost. Here is one player at each position who could make the biggest difference to a new team.
*Note: Restricted free agents who have received offers from another team are not included on this list, because they're services are now between their old team and the offering team.
Point Guard: Lou Williams
With Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin and Jason Kidd off the market, former Sixers guard Lou Williams—an unrestricted free agent who recently announced he was leaving Philadelphia—is the best option out there at the point guard position.
Williams isn't necessarily a conventional "1", as he played more of a sixth man role in 2011-2012 and is more of a scorer than distributor. He brings instant offense to any team in need of a scoring guard because he can create his own shot, which helps attract attention and open up possibilities for his teammates.
Lou isn't necessarily great on defense, but he is more of a streaky, big-play defender who frustrates his opponent with quick hands and press defense.
Next Best Option: Raymond Felton
Felton is definitely the next best option out there. He blends a nice mix of facilitating and scoring that a lot of NBA teams would love to have.
Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo is by far the most coveted shooting guard in the league due to his ability to score in bunches and shoot a good percentage from the field: He shoots over 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc while averaging over 15 points per game in his career.
When he was starting frequently in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, Mayo averaged over 18 points per game, four rebounds, three assists and one steal. Add those offensive numbers to an above-average defender who can shut down guys like Russell Westbrook when he needs to, and you have a pretty darn good option at the "2-guard".
Apparently the Pacers, Celtics and Suns are all interested in the former No. 3 overall pick, who's played well but still has something to prove when he joins his new team.
Next Best Option: J.R. Smith
Smith isn't a good defender, but his ability to score the basketball is something that will be very valuable to any NBA team. He has never averaged more than 28 minutes per game in a season, but he still put up 15 points on a nightly basis and will be a nice spark off the bench in 2012-2013.
Small Forward: Antawn Jamison
Some might classify Antawn Jamison as a power forward, but in my mind he'll always be the hybrid small forward from his Wizards days when he played with Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler.
Jamison is the veteran, athletic scoring threat that a lot of teams need at the 3. He's had an impressive 14-year career that has spanned four teams, most notably during his five years with both Golden State and Washington.
Even at the ripe of 36, Jamison averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in Cleveland last season. He has a career scoring and rebounding averages of 19.5 and 7.9, two numbers that go nearly unrivaled among active players. He likely will go to a team that is close to title contention, and he certainly has the skills to push a couple teams—the Lakers included—over the top.
Next Best Option: Grant Hill
Hill is another savvy veteran who could help out a team in need of a bench scoring presence. Even though he says his only likely destination is Los Angeles, those commitments have only been verbal and it is possible for another top team to nab him as well.
Power Forward: Ersan Ilyasova
The use of the amnesty clause on Elton Brand doesn't really change my opinion on this position: Ersan Ilyasova is the best power forward on the market, besides from Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, who will be re-joining their old teams soon.
Ilyasova was one of the best power forwards period after the All-Star break last season, averaging over 16 points and nine rebounds; he is most well known for his incredible 29-point, 25-rebound performance against New Jersey.
Even though the Bucks already made a 5-year, $40 million offer to the 25-year-old, other teams can still offer him more than $40 million, although they must do it in four years or less.
Interested teams include Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Toronto and much of the Eastern Conference. He would bring a reliable mid-range game, ferocious rebounding and a nice outside touch that make him one of the most dangerous offensive players left on the market.
Next Best Option: Ryan Anderson
Anderson, a deadly three-point shooter, broke out in 2011-2012 by averaging over 16 points per game. He also contributed 7.7 rebounds per game, nearly half of which came on the offensive glass. His offensive rebounding combined with good shooting make him a good complement to plenty of centers around the league, as Dwight Howard and the Magic found out last season.
Who is the best available free agent?
Center: Brook Lopez
People like to often criticize Brook Lopez's game, but nobody can doubt that he is definitely one of the better big men in the Eastern Conference when healthy.
In 2010-2011, his last full healthy year, Lopez started all 82 games and was the team's best player. In that season he averaged over 20 points and 6 rebounds per game along with 1.5 blocks and 0.6 steals. For his career he's recorded 17.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game (stats via ESPN).
Lopez is an excellent low-post scorer, and even though he's struggled with rebounding at times, if he can refine his technique he can be a nightly double-double center. His defense is also satisfactory, which makes him an excellent candidate to improve any and every NBA front court.
Next Best Option: Chris Kaman
The center position is in demand this season, and with Andrew Bynum, Omer Asik and Roy Hibbert all off of the table, Chris Kaman's name will be thrown a lot as teams look to add a veteran scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker.
With the right amount of money and playing time, any NBA team can benefit from his services.
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