Ranking the Trade Value of the Top 100 NBA Players
An NBA player's current value can be significantly different than his trade value, which is an important concept for everyone participating in the trade deadline frenzy to fully grasp.
If you ask me who the best players in the world are, I'm going to base my evaluation solely off what they can do on the court.
However, if you ask me about the best trade chips, I'm going to include the aforementioned criterion, but also age, contract status, potential and more.
All of those nuggets of information came into play when creating these rankings of the top 100 NBA players in terms of their trade value. I started with my rankings of the top 100 players in the Association and added in the rest of the factors.
I've also added some italics for emphasis when I get to a player who has been filling up the rumor mill.
Theoretically, you would trade a lower-ranked player for a higher-ranked player in a vacuum. That's not how real life works, of course, so act accordingly.
Note: All contract information comes from Spotrac.com. Injured players were not included in this slideshow.
No. 100 Through No. 96
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No. 100: Carlos Boozer, PF, Chicago Bulls
With Taj Gibson waiting to take over Carlos Boozer's spot from his comfy position on the bench, the starting power forward for the Chicago Bulls is quite expendable. Throughout the first half of the season, the team was actually worse on both offense and defense when Boozer played.
However, it's going to be awfully difficult to move him for any other player in these rankings. Between Boozer's advancing age and the enormity of his contract that runs through 2014-15, there isn't much appeal.
ESPN's Marc Stein brought a potential swap of Boozer and Andrea Barganani into the realm of rumors, but it hasn't come to fruition yet. You will notice, though, that Bargnani is by no means a top-100 player, despite his status as a former No. 1 pick.
Boozer's per-game stats might give the illusion that he has some trade value, but as soon as you dig deeper, you realize how little he actually has.
No. 99: Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, New York Knicks
Amar'e Stoudemire has been fantastic coming off the bench for the New York Knicks, but the 30 years on his tires and the gaudy totals owed to him prevent any sort of move from happening.
Do you really think he's going to use his early termination option for the 2014-15 season instead of getting paid over $23 million?
No. 98: Joe Johnson, SG, Brooklyn Nets
This isn't about anything but Joe Johnson's ridiculous contract. As an Atlanta Hawks fan, I don't want to talk about it anymore. I'm still scarred.
No. 97: Shawn Marion, SF/PF, Dallas Mavericks
Shawn Marion isn't quite the defender that he used to be. He's still a lockdown guy on the perimeter, but his versatility isn't at the same level. It's only going to get worse as he continues to age.
No. 96: Metta World Peace, SF, Los Angeles Lakers
Metta World Peace came in at No. 100 in my player rankings, so he's technically moving up in the world here. Still, it's hard to imagine anyone really wanting to trade for this version of Ron Artest.
No. 95 Through No. 91
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No. 95: Tony Allen, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
When you're thinking about great perimeter defenders with little to nothing to offer on the offensive end of the court, Tony Allen should be the first player who comes to mind.
However, he's going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, and he's already past 30.
No. 94: Luis Scola, PF, Phoenix Suns
As a general rule, players who have been amnestied aren't going to rank too highly when discussing trade value. Luis Scola has played admirably for the Phoenix Suns, but he's not exactly a building block.
No. 93: Ray Allen, SG, Miami Heat
Already 37 years old, Ray Allen isn't going to be getting any younger. His three-point stroke will remain pure, but as he's shown with the Miami Heat, he's really just a glorified role player at this stage of his career.
No. 92: Carl Landry, PF, Golden State Warriors
Carl Landry's $4 million player option for the 2013-14 season is going to be interesting if he continues to look like a Sixth Man of the Year candidate during the second half of the year.
He's a valuable player, but only in a certain niche.
No. 91: Ramon Sessions, PG, Charlotte Bobcats
The backup point guard for the Charlotte Bobcats has a reasonable contract that runs through the 2013-14 season, but part of having trade value is having value on the court. Sessions has proven throughout his still-young career that his value in that respect is rather limited.
Sessions may already have reached his ceiling.
No. 90 Through No. 86
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No. 90: Jarrett Jack, PG, Golden State Warriors
Speaking of Sixth Man of the Year candidates from the Golden State Warriors, Jarrett Jack continues to be one of the more underrated players in the NBA in terms of media and fan attention. However, he won't be underrated monetarily once he cashes in as an unrestricted free agent following the 2012-13 campaign.
No. 89: Wesley Matthews, SG/SF, Portland Trail Blazers
While Wesley Matthews won't be a bad guy to have on the roster at around $6 million during each of the next two seasons, he isn't worth quite that much unless he takes a step forward. Since that's a step he's been trying to make for a while now, there's no guarantee it happens.
No. 88: Nene Hilario, C, Washington Wizards
Nene has been rather limited during his first full season with the Washington Wizards thanks to his injury, but he's still going to be a great center when fully healthy.
The problem is the Brazilian big man is already 30 years old and owed $13 million per year through the end of the 2015-16 season.
No. 87: Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando Magic
Jameer Nelson has a lot of value within the Orlando Magic organization because of his skill on the court and in the locker room.
However, After re-upping his contract for another three years with an average salary of $8.4 million per season, Rob Hennigan didn't do wonders for his trade value.
No. 86: J.J. Hickson, PF/C, Portland Trail Blazers
J.J. Hickson's Twitter account may be a bit of a turn-off to some suitors, but his performance on the court is the exact opposite.
A double-double machine for the Portland Trail Blazers, Hickson is on an affordable contract for the rest of the 2012-13 season and shouldn't be too expensive when he signs a new one as an unrestricted free agent. When put in the right system, Hickson has shown his value.
No. 85 Through No. 81
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No. 85: DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers
The athletic big man for the Los Angeles Clippers is an appealing piece to a number of teams around the Association because of the upside he possesses. Already a solid defender and great alley-oop finisher, DeAndre Jordan has a ton of unrealized potential.
If L.A. ends up trading for a more established frontcourt member, Jordan could be on the way out.
No. 84: Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers
You know what's not good for your trade value? Signing a max contract and then promptly forgetting how to play offense.
No. 83: Andrew Bogut, C, Golden State Warriors
Andrew Bogut has the talent to move a lot higher up this set of rankings, but the $14 million he's set to make during the 2013-14 season and his injury history might turn more than a few teams away if he's ever put on the block.
No. 82: Raymond Felton, PG, New York Knicks
Raymond Felton is a pretty solid point guard for the New York Knicks, but he doesn't have a ton of appeal elsewhere now that he's playing in the Big Apple. Although Felton is on a reasonable contract through 2015-16, he's already 28 years old and probably isn't going to blossom into an elite floor general.
No. 81: J.J. Redick, SG, Orlando Magic
J.J. Redick's name has been thrown around a lot leading up to the trading deadline for a number of reasons.
First, he's developed into more than just a sharpshooter during his first season with the post-Dwight era Orlando Magic. Redick's passing skills have skyrocketed, and he's thriving in his more featured role. His skills on the court would absolutely help out a contender.
Secondly, Redick wouldn't have to be anything more than a rental, as his contract will expire at the conclusion of this 2012-13 campaign.
No. 80 Through No. 76
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No. 80: J.R. Smith, SG, New York Knicks
J.R. Smith is a fun player to watch with his ridiculous athleticism and his tendency to turn ordinary situations into drama-filled ones. That said, he's a player you have to watch a lot to avoid getting frustrated by his shot selection.
No. 79: Tiago Splitter, C, San Antonio Spurs
The 28-year-old Brazilian big man might not have as much success outside of the San Antonio Spurs' system, but he's youngish and full of potential. Tiago Splitter has been a per-minute stud for a few seasons now and will thrive as soon as he gains a bigger role.
No. 78: Marcin Gortat, C, Phoenix Suns
Going into the 2012-13 season, there was a question about whether Marcin Gortat was an elite center or a product of Steve Nash's greatness in the pick-and-roll. Well, that question has been answered now that Gortat's production has slipped.
According to HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy, Gortat is a piece that could help the Phoenix Suns land Josh Smith, but he won't be the only player they send to the Atlanta Hawks to make a deal work.
Maybe last year Gortat for Smith might have seemed a bit more fair, but after Gortat's sluggish first half of the year without Steve Nash, that's quickly changing.
No. 77: Jamal Crawford, PG/SG, Los Angeles Clippers
A Sixth Man of the Year candidate for the Los Angeles Clippers, Jamal Crawford has been a scoring sensation for the Western Conference contenders. It's likely to stay that way, because Crawford's contract is quite affordable for the foreseeable future.
No. 76: Nikola Vucevic, C, Orlando Magic
Nikola Vucevic's value has skyrocketed for the Orlando Magic now that the 7-footer from USC has established himself as one of the better rebounders in the NBA. Still on his rookie contract, Vucevic is making that Dwight Howard deal look a little bit better for Rob Hennigan.
No. 75 Through No. 71
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No. 75: Arron Afflalo, SG, Orlando Magic
Arron Afflalo was supposed to be the prized return in the Dwight Howard trade for the Orlando Magic, but he's failed to assert himself as a star player. He's still the team's best trade chip, but his inability to break out in a featured role limits his value despite the relatively low financial obligation that comes with his contract.
No. 74: Jose Calderon, PG, Detroit Pistons
Jose Calderon has already been traded once, going from the Toronto Raptors to Detroit Pistons in the Rudy Gay deal.
He's going to stay put until his contract expires at the end of the year. Then, he'll be paid significantly more given how well he's performed in every role he's been handed.
No. 73: Kevin Martin, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
It's hard to imagine Kevin Martin changing hands again after he was shipped from the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to the start of the current season. Martin might still be a potent offensive player, but he's becoming more and more limited as he continues to age.
No. 72: Manu Ginobili, SG, San Antonio Spurs
Manu Ginobili won't ever be traded from the San Antonio Spurs, especially because of the intrinsic value he holds within the organization. Plus, his age and upcoming status as an unrestricted free agent drive his value down.
No. 71: Chandler Parsons, SF, Houston Rockets
If the Houston Rockets explicitly made Chandler Parsons available, he'd probably draw quite a bit of attention. Parsons is still a sub-15-PER guy who contributes in a lot of areas at a non-elite level, but he's young and affordable.
No. 70 Through No. 66
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No. 70: Steve Nash, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
Steve Nash is undoubtedly a legendary point guard, but he's 39 years old and still being paid just under $10 million per year through 2014-15. It's hard to find a taker for that in a vacuum, and the Nash name can only help so much.
No. 69: JaVale McGee, C, Denver Nuggets
While JaVale McGee is being paid an awful lot of money—around $11 million per year until 2015-16—to sit on the bench for the majority of the game, he's still an incredible talent.
His wingspan alone is worth millions to NBA organizations, and he'll be a star in this league if he can screw his head on right.
No. 68: George Hill, PG, Indiana Pacers
"Reasonable" is the best word to describe George Hill's contract with the Indiana Pacers. Lasting through 2016-17, it ensures that Hill remains paid a perfectly fair amount of money.
He's not going to be a steal or a financial albatross.
No. 67: DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, Toronto Raptors
DeMar DeRozan and his recently inked extension have a lot of potential, but he's failed to take steps forward for a number of years now. That breakout we've all been expecting just hasn't occurred yet, and the increasing crowdedness of the Toronto backcourt isn't going to help.
No. 66: Tristan Thompson, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Tristan Thompson didn't look very good as a rookie, but he's been significantly better during his second season out of Texas.
Emerging as a double-double threat in Anderson Varejao's stead, Thompson has proven that he should be a part of the Cavs' future, especially as he's on a rookie contract.
No. 65 Through No. 61
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No. 65: Larry Sanders, PF/C, Milwaukee Bucks
The shot-blocking machine for the Milwaukee Bucks is still developing into an all-around defensive monster, and he's doing so on a ridiculous bargain of a contract that runs through 2013-14. Sanders ushers in the next tier of trade chips.
No. 64: Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson hasn't been quite as good as expected during his sophomore campaign, but he's still a potent offensive threat from the perimeter with improving defensive chops.
Still on his rookie contract, Thompson would draw a lot of interest if the Dubs ever put him on the block.
No. 63: Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
If Nikola Pekovic wasn't a restricted free agent at the end of 2012-13 and had a long-term, affordable contract inked with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he'd rank significantly higher. His physical play down low on both ends of the court would demand it.
No. 62: Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard started to break out at the end of the 2012-13 season's first half, even knocking down a game-winning three from the corner as the final shot before the All-Star break. Since he does it all and is still on the rookie pay scale, the Spurs are going to be quite hesitant to let him go.
It's going to take a huge offer to pry Leonard away from Gregg Popovich's clutches, as the organization seems to expect huge things from him both in the present and the future.
Could Josh Smith be enough?
No. 61: Omer Asik, C, Houston Rockets
If Omer Asik's contract wasn't backloaded, he'd be worth more on the trading block. But with that nearly $15 million salary looming for the 2014-15 season, he finds himself just outside of the top 60.
No. 60 Through No. 56
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No. 60: Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta Hawks
Jeff Teague has been playing like an elite point guard ever since Lou Williams went down with a torn ACL. He's a restricted free agent at the end of the season and will likely be in for a sizable payday.
No. 59: Monta Ellis, SG, Milwaukee Bucks
Doesn't it seem like Monta Ellis is always alive and well in the trade rumors?
Even after he was sent from the Golden State Warriors to the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2011-12 campaign, Ellis is back at the center of attention before this year's trading deadline. The trade du jour involves him being sent to the Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith, per ESPN's Marc Stein:
On Bucks/Josh Smith talk: Hawks' interest believed to start w/Monta Ellis, since Monta could play next to Jeff Teague, whom Hawks still like— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 19, 2013
Ellis' game is unique and leaves him best-served as a co-star or secondary option, but things haven't worked quite so well with Brandon Jennings alongside him in the Milwaukee backcourt.
He's still young, though his early termination option for 2013-14 makes him a little bit less appealing in these rankings.
No. 58: Kevin Garnett, PF/C, Boston Celtics
No story has been more bizarre than any Kevin Garnett rumor after he fervently denied that he would waive his no-trade clause during All-Star weekend. Doesn't that automatically nullify all of the rumors that involve him?
No. 57: Eric Bledsoe, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
Eric Bledsoe has been one of the hottest commodities during the pre-trade deadline frenzy, and it's for good reason.
The young point guard has an insane level of potential, mostly stemming from his unheard of athleticism. He's on a cheap contract and stuck behind Chris Paul without hope of earning a larger role in the Los Angeles Clippers' rotation.
He's a natural fit for the rumors, and it shows.
The latest rumor comes from ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne and Marc Stein, who alert us that the Utah Jazz have some interest in the dynamic young floor general. It's not the first rumor we've heard involving Bledsoe, and I can guarantee that it won't be the last.
No. 56: Tyreke Evans, PG/SG/SF, Sacramento Kings
Tyreke Evans set some enormous expectations for himself during his first year in the NBA, but he's failed to live up to them ever since. The Sacramento Kings are at least partially to blame here, as they've struggled to find the right role for this talented player.
No. 55 Through No. 51
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No. 55: Ryan Anderson, PF, New Orleans Hornets
Ryan Anderson has officially proved that he didn't need Dwight Howard in the paint to find success on the perimeter. Now his $8.5 million per year until 2015-16 seems like almost a bargain.
No. 54: O.J. Mayo, SG, Dallas Mavericks
O.J. Mayo needed a fresh start and found one with the Dallas Mavericks. He's struggled to mesh with Dirk Nowitzki and cooled off after the torrid beginning to his time with the Mavs, but Mayo has still dramatically increased his trade value should Mark Cuban decide to dangle him.
No. 53: Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors
Now that Jose Calderon has departed Toronto, Kyle Lowry is going to show his value more and more by the day. Remember how well he started out the year with the Raptors?
Lowry is owed just over $6 million in 2013-14, and he'll live up to that sum with ease.
No. 52: Greivis Vasquez, PG, New Orleans Hornets
Greivis Vasquez has been the most underrated player in the league during the 2012-13 campaign, and his salary shows that.
Somehow, someway, the guy averaging just under 10 assists per game is only going to be paid about $2.15 million in 2013-14 before becoming a free agent.
No. 51: Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks could unload Dirk Nowitzki if they really wanted to, but it would create an uproar. After all, he means a lot to that franchise and whatever was brought back wouldn't seem like a fair return given Dirk's age and hefty contract.
No. 50 Through No. 46
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No. 50: Paul Millsap, PF, Utah Jazz
Paul Millsap might be a great addition to any frontcourt, but he's not a good candidate to move any further up in these rankings because it's tough to make a reasonable long-term investment. After all, this power forward's contract expires at the end of the season, and he should cash in during free agency.
No. 49: Goran Dragic, PG, Phoenix Suns
Goran Dragic is only 26 years old, and he hasn't had a full-time role like this before. Chances are he keeps improving and eventually makes the $7.5 million player option in 2015-16 seem like quite the bargain.
No. 48: David West, PF, Indiana Pacers
While David West's contract expires at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season—and by the looks of it, the Indiana Pacers could maximize the number of games he plays by making a deep run into the postseason—he's still a valuable big man who makes a huge impact on both ends of the court.
No. 47: Derrick Favors, PF/C, Utah Jazz
You aren't going to find any other bench players ranked above Derrick Favors. While the big man might start out on the pine, he plays well when he's on the court and is blocked by two studly frontcourt members.
No. 46: Paul Pierce, SF, Boston Celtics
It's pretty tough to imagine Paul Pierce in any jersey that isn't colored green (or the white version of it). He's spent his whole career with the Boston Celtics and should retire as a member of that organization.
No. 45 Through No. 41
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No. 45: Zach Randolph, PF, Memphis Grizzlies
Zach Randolph has a player option for $14.5 million in 2014-15, and it's hard to imagine him failing to use it. That's a lot of money to pay what will then be a 33-year-old power forward.
No. 44: Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Bobcats
The relevant question here is as follows: How high is Kemba Walker's ceiling? The answer to that question will determine where you have the talented young point guard in your own personal rankings, but I'm not sure it's too much higher than where he's at now.
No. 43: Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Jennings hasn't taken a big step forward this year, which hurts his value a bit. This is the stage of his career when he's supposed to be constantly rising up the ranks, not staying stagnant right before he becomes a restricted free agent.
No. 42: Al Jefferson, C, Utah Jazz
Al Jefferson becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season and is likely to receive a rather large financial windfall. He's one of the best big men in the league, but the uncertainty here keeps his trade value a bit depressed.
No. 41: Rudy Gay, SF, Toronto Raptors
Rudy Gay has already been traded once, and it ain't happening again anytime soon.
No. 40 Through No. 36
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No. 40: David Lee, PF, Golden State Warriors
An offensive dynamo for the Dubs, David Lee would generate a lot of interest if he were made available. However, he's already 29 years old, and he's going to be rather overpaid by the time we reach the end of his contract.
As good as he is now, it's tough to see him being worth nearly $15.5 million three seasons from now.
No. 39: Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn Nets
Is Deron Williams an elite point guard? We thought he was before the 2012-13 campaign.
Is he overpaid? That we now know for certain.
No. 38: Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Hornets
Eric Gordon might one day be worth the max contract he signed during the offseason, but injuries have prevented him from proving that quite yet.
The dude is brimming over with talent. He just has to prove that he can stay on the court.
No. 37: Josh Smith, PF, Atlanta Hawks
Sometimes it seems like nothing ever changes in the NBA. Josh Smith is still in both an Atlanta Hawks uniform and a whole lot of trade rumors.
I'm not going to recap all of the various scenarios that have been thrown out there for two reasons: They can easily be found elsewhere once you're done perusing these rankings and some guy had this to say.
If Josh Smith is going to be moved, we haven't heard the deal that's going to go down yet. Nothing out there makes enough sense.— Adam Fromal (@fromal09) February 19, 2013
There's a great chance that Smoove changes hands in the near future, but the Hawks might have to shoot for pennies on the dollar at this point.
No. 36: Andre Iguodala, SG/SF, Denver Nuggets
Unless something changes dramatically, Andre Iguodala is going to be choosing to remain with the Denver Nuggets for just over $16 million during the 2013-14 season. After that—unless he signs an extension—he'll hit free agency.
Even with his struggles to start the year, Iggy is still a great player.
No. 35 Through No. 31
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No. 35: Mike Conley, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
If Mike Conley keeps getting better, his contract is going to seem like one heck of a bargain. The lefty point guard is inked through the 2015-16 season, and even though he's paid more each year, he's only scheduled to make about $9.4 million in the final year of the deal.
No. 34: Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets
I wavered back and forth between Ty Lawson and Conley, but settled on giving Lawson the better spot despite his more financially burdensome contract.
Why? Simply because Lawson is already a great point guard and possesses a much higher ceiling.
No. 33: Luol Deng, SF, Chicago Bulls
Unless Tom Thibodeau runs Luol Deng into the ground, the Chicago Bulls small forward is going to keep earning All-Star bids or at least come close year after year. Deng is going to be expensive to keep, but his multifaceted contributions are well worth it.
No. 32: Danilo Gallinari, SF/ Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari has already become one of the better two-way small forwards in the NBA, and he's only 24 years old.
While his contract is more than reasonable through 2015-16, can he really get all that much better?
No. 31: Tyson Chandler, C, New York Knicks
Tyson Chandler might be a limited player, but at least he knows those limitations and sticks to his strengths. Most teams would consider themselves lucky to pay under $15 million per year for a defender of Chandler's caliber.
No. 30 Through No. 26
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No. 30: Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland Trail Blazers
Nicolas Batum finally came into his own at the start of the 2012-13 season. Now he's shown all of us what he can do, proving that he's well worth his new contract.
Perhaps most importantly, he's still only 24 years old.
No. 29: Tim Duncan, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs
Mentioning Tim Duncan putting on any jersey other than a San Antonio Spurs' one is simply blasphemy. We won't have to worry about that because of his advancing age even if Duncan does seem curiously immune to Father Time.
No. 28: Serge Ibaka, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Serge Ibaka took a major step forward once James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets, blossoming into an offensive contributor as well as a defensive stud. He's still only 23 years old and has a very reasonable contract that runs until 2016-17.
No. 27: Chris Bosh, PF/C, Miami Heat
Can you imagine what Chris Bosh would do if he became a No. 1 option again?
The offensively oriented power forward might be paid a whole lot of money well into the future, but he's undoubtedly worth it. It's just hard to call Bosh a bargain.
No. 26: Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
Age is the only thing keeping Dwyane Wade from a higher spot. He might be "only" 30 years old, but that's a deceptively low number given the wear and tear Wade's body has undergone throughout his career.
No. 25 Through No. 21
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No. 25: DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins' talent, youth and contract all point toward a much more appealing spot in the trade value rankings. However, you have to take into account what goes on between his ears.
Until Boogie starts acting like a team player, other teams aren't going to be willing to offer as much.
No. 24: Al Horford, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks
Al Horford might not be the most glamorous big man out there, especially in this slide that somehow ended up brimming over with frontcourt talent. That said, he's extremely consistent, affordable and under contract through 2015-16.
No. 23: Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls
Joakim Noah is slightly older and paid a bit more than Al Horford, but he's also significantly better because of his defensive prowess.
Horford's former University of Florida teammate might not score as many points, but he'll be earning DPOY votes for a long time.
No. 22: Kenneth Faried, PF, Denver Nuggets
A lot of times when talking about trade values, youth wins out. Kenneth Faried's ceiling is so high that even he can't spring off the ground with enough force to reach it.
Faried is also still on that rookie pay scale.
No. 21: Greg Monroe, C, Detroit Pistons
Believe it or not, Greg Monroe is actually younger than Kenneth Faried. I can't be the only one who feels that's rather surprising.
The former Georgetown Hoya is also significantly better than the ponytailed big man, and he's not paid all that much more since he's on his own rookie contract.
No. 20 Through No. 16
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No. 20: John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
I have to admit that I'd gotten off the John Wall-hype train a while ago, but he's made me a believer again this year.
The former Kentucky Wildcat is quite talented and seems to have an overwhelmingly positive impact on his teammates.
No. 19: Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets
So much for Brook Lopez not being worth his max contract. That exorbitant sum might deter some suitors, but Lopez has been well worth it and can now completely change a team's offensive capability for the better without holding it back too much on defense.
No. 18: Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry's contract is an absolute joke.
An average of $11 million through the 2016-17 season? I'll sign up for that in a heartbeat, but I'm also well aware that he's probably going to miss a large chunk of that due to injuries.
No. 17: LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
LaMarcus Aldridge has already established himself as an elite power forward, but he's 27 years old now. It doesn't seem like he's been in the league quite that long, even if numbers don't lie.
Between his age and the larger contract he's owed by the Blazers, Aldridge comes in one spot below one of his teammates.
No. 16: Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers
I'd never argue in a million years that Damian Lillard was better than Aldridge right now, but he might be some day.
While he's on that rookie pay scale and already well ahead of the typical developmental curve, he'd be an absolute steal in the trade market. Too bad he's untouchable, especially after he wins Rookie of the Year.
No. 15 Through No. 11
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No. 15: Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant is way better than the 15th-best player in the world, but there are too many factors working against his trade value. Those are his age, the claim he might retire in two years and the ridiculous amount of money he's owed down the road.
No. 14: Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Next season, Jrue Holiday's new contract kicks in, one that owes him an average of $10.25 million per year until the end of the 2016-17 season.
For a first-time All-Star who's only getting better, that's a heck of a deal.
No. 13: Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies
The two remaining years on Marc Gasol's deal average out to about $15 million per, and he'll be worth every penny of it.
Gasol has proven that he can anchor a top-flight defense and has plenty left in the tank, even though he's already 28 years old.
No. 12: Anthony Davis, PF/C, New Orleans Hornets
The reigning No. 1 pick in the draft checks in at No. 12 thanks to an overwhelming combination of age, production, money and potential.
Davis has a plus-20 PER at age 19, is further along than expected on offense, has a ceiling as high as anyone not named LeBron or Durant, and is still going to be on that rookie pay scale for a long time.
No. 11: Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker has been the second-best point guard and fourth-best player in the NBA during the 2012-13 season, but he's also significantly older than any player ranked in the top 10.
As much as San Antonio Spurs fans hate to admit it, he's going to start to decline a lot sooner than the remaining players in these rankings.
10. Dwight Howard
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Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.3 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.20 PER
Dwight Howard's trade value is clearly affected both by the status of his back and the fact that he's going to be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of his first (and possibly only) stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It's clear that Howard isn't healthy, but it's not hard to forget that D12 is the best center in the league when everything is functioning properly. Frankly, he's not that far from the title even while obviously hampered by a number of nagging pains, aches and injuries.
Howard is still only 27 years old and has a lot of quality basketball left in him. This season has dramatically lowered his trade value, but not enough to push him out of the top 10.
9. Blake Griffin
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Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.5 steals, 23.50 PER
Blake Griffin is already an elite player in the NBA, and he's barely scratched the surface of his talent. Just think about what happens when Griffin's jumper develops into more than just a league-average one.
What about when his defense borders on great instead of just merely average?
Griffin is already more than a dunking machine, and he's just 23 years old. There's still plenty of time for him to grow into a historically great power forward, as opposed to just being one of the best in the business in the modern landscape.
He's also under contract through the 2017-18 season, so it's not like you have to worry about him leaving anytime soon.
8. Russell Westbrook
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Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 22.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.9 steals, 23.02 PER
Here's a scary thought for you: Russell Westbrook is only 24 years old.
He's gotten better during each and every season he's spent in the NBA, and his age hasn't advanced to the point that the trend will draw to a conclusion. This year he's improved his passing dramatically, both in terms of volume and quality. He's finding tighter gaps and looking to facilitate more and more.
Westbrook is eventually going to settle down a bit and start to make better decisions when shooting the ball. I'd certainly want him on my team when that happens.
Already a top-five point guard and still improving while locked up through 2016-17, this floor general is clearly a superb trade asset if he's ever put on the block.
7. Paul George
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Team: Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.8 steals, 17.39 PER
Paul George is 22 years old and already has an All-Star selection on his resume. He also looked like he fit in during the actual proceedings, with the exception of his airball during the Three-Point Contest.
That might have been the first All-Star bid for George, but it certainly won't be the last.
He makes a humongous two-way impact for the Indiana Pacers, and his versatility can be staggering when you watch him play.
George has as much talent as the rest of the players joining him in the top 10, but he's nowhere near as established. The reason he falls at No. 7 is rather simple: his contract.
While the rest of the studs around him are being paid exorbitant sums, George has one more year left on the rookie pay scale before he becomes a restricted free agent and cashes in.
6. Carmelo Anthony
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Team: New York Knicks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.8 steals, 23.86 PER
Although Paul George does have the monetary benefit over Carmelo Anthony, he hasn't yet become a bona fide MVP candidate.
The 28-year-old forward has been phenomenal for the New York Knicks, even if he's slowed down slightly as the year as progressed. He's clearly established himself as one of the absolute alpha dogs in the NBA world.
The only factors really working against Melo are threefold: He requires a system to be built around him, he's already 28 years old and he gets paid a whole lot of money.
5. James Harden
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Team: Houston Rockets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.9 steals, 23.38 PER
Try to imagine how good James Harden is going to be when he starts to play defense at a level that can at least come close to matching his play on the more glamorous, offensive end of the court.
The bearded shooting guard has been an unbelievable scorer during his first season with the Houston Rockets, and his assist numbers are pretty darn impressive as well. It's hard to believe that he's been able to maintain this level of well-rounded play.
Harden was never a great defensive player in Oklahoma City, but he'll at least be a serviceable one in the future. Right now, he's experiencing the same decline that any player with an increased role suffers through. He's asked to overexert on offense, and the defense suffers correspondingly.
Eventually, that will balance back out.
Right now, though, he's a 23-year-old phenom that would have a lot of teams literally salivating if he was placed on the block.
4. Kyrie Irving
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Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.7 steals, 22.39 PER
Kyrie Irving is on the brink of becoming a top-10 player in the league right now, but he jumps up a number of spots as soon as we start talking about trade value.
He's clearly one of the better offensive players in the league, and he's only 20 years old.
Let me repeat that.
Kyrie Irving is only 20 years old. He cannot get into a bar. He cannot legally drink. He can't rent a car. But he can outscore Kevin Durant down the stretch and carry the Cleveland Cavaliers to a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It's abundantly clear that Irving is eventually going to challenge Chris Paul for the title of best point guard, and it's likely going to happen sooner rather than later.
And, oh yeah, he's still on that rookie pay scale.
3. Chris Paul
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Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 9.6 assists, 0.0 blocks, 2.6 steals, 26.80 PER
At this point, we've reached the level of players for which the order will proceed just as their overall rank does.
Chris Paul is the best point guard in basketball and the third best player in the NBA, regardless of position. At this point, there's still enough of a gap between he and Kyrie Irving that if Chris Grant were to call Gary Sacks (the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers GMs, respectively), the conversation would proceed as follows:
Grant: "Hey, Gary. How's it going? I was just wondering, would you give me CP3 for Kyrie?"
Sacks: "Wow. Hmmmm. Let me think about it and get back to you."
****Five minutes pass****
Sacks: "Yeah, I'm going to pass on that one. Paul's still only 27 and has plenty of quality play left in the tank. Tempting, but no dice."
Grant: "Cool. Understood."
2. Kevin Durant
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Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 29.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.6 steals, 29.22 PER
If you have Kevin Durant, you're not going to want to get rid of him. Quite frankly, the Oklahoma City Thunder might not trade Durant for LeBron James if the deal was proposed.
However, that's not a blanket statement. The two are close enough in terms of trade value that it's more a matter of personal preference.
Durant is clearly the second-best player in the Association, and he's only getting better. He's a once-in-a-generation talent just now getting to his prime. It's just that there's another one of those rare beasts already dominating the league.
1. LeBron James
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Team: Miami Heat
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.7 steals, 31.46 PER
At the moment, LeBron James is better at basketball than anyone alive.
That moment is also not likely to pass for at least a few years. Kevin Durant might eventually overtake him, but LeBron has a couple more seasons in the spotlight, if not more.
Unless there are strange, extenuating circumstances, you do not trade the best player in the world unless you have to. Especially when he's only 28 years old and still improving.
That's all there is to it.
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