NBA Free Agents 2014: Top 3 Remaining Options at Each Position
We’re getting down to the bottom of the barrel for the 2014 free-agency period, as many teams have filled out their rosters and are already looking forward to training camp.
While some big names are still out there, including young studs like Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe, the middle class of free agency has basically been wiped out. What you have left now, for the most part, are guys who are just looking to latch on with a team.
There are still some useful rotation players out there, however. Whether they’re weighing offers or simply not drumming up enough interest is difficult to say, but you’d think the top three at each position will all find homes relatively quickly.
For the sake of this exercise, we’ll rank players based on who can contribute most to a team next year in the short term, factoring in who is most likely to get signed. For example, there may be a young player like Seth Curry who could potentially be better than Rodney Stuckey down the line, but Stuckey is more likely to get an NBA job and minutes next year.
Let’s take a look at the top three remaining players at each position for teams that still have offseason needs.
Eric Bledsoe, RFA
The best player still on the market, Eric Bledose is a restricted free agent who has yet to sign an offer sheet. Additionally, Phoenix’s actions this offseason have been awfully interesting.
The drafting of point guard Tyler Ennis and the signing of point guard Isaiah Thomas could have just been talent and value grabs, but this is a pretty crowded backcourt all of a sudden. That shouldn’t deter Phoenix from retaining Bledsoe by any means, but the team has some insurance just in case.
Ramon Sessions, UFA
It’s a little surprising that Ramon Sessions has been the odd man out in a deep point guard class, especially since he can reasonably play both on and off the ball and has a very desirable skill in his ability to draw fouls.
Sessions has never played for any sort of contender before, so perhaps he’s flying under the radar. For a team that needs some bench scoring and another ball-handler, he’d be a fine acquisition.
Ish Smith, UFA
After being let go by the point guard-heavy Phoenix Suns, Ish Smith could end up on the seventh team of his career. His weaknesses are as glaring as his strengths. Smith’s shot is completely broken, as he’s terrible from behind the arc.
That said, Smith is a wonderful distributor, transition player and hustle guy who can create steals and nab offensive rebounds. He’s untraditional to be sure, but he could fit in a shooting-heavy second unit.
Ray Allen, UFA
When you’ve been in the league this long, there’s no real rush to make your decision. Ray Allen will once again have his pick of contenders, as any team would gladly bring him on board. He's one of the greatest shooters of all time, after all.
Allen is very limited these days, but he’s still impossible to leave open, and his basketball IQ can carry him in many ways.
Rodney Stuckey, UFA
Update: Rodney Stuckey signed a one-year deal with the Indiana Pacers on July 16, per USA Today's Sam Amick.
He’s sort of been the forgotten man, but Stuckey turned it around a bit last year with the Detroit Pistons, which was obviously far from an ideal situation for him.
While it’s clear he’s not a point guard and never was, Stuckey is a decent sixth man who can create his own offense and get to the rim a bit. While you wish he was a better perimeter shooter, teams in need of instant scoring would be wise to look Stuckey’s way, even if he’s not great at anything else.
Evan Turner, UFA
Who wants the reclamation project? Last season Evan Turner had a good first half with the Philadelphia 76ers even if he was posting empty stats, but his end with the Indiana Pacers didn’t provide much hope.
Still, there is a good player buried somewhere deep down here, as Turner can rebound on the wing, handle the ball and get to the rim. If he could actually defend and be a team player, there would be hope he can revive his career.
Some team like the Los Angeles Lakers with little to lose should probably take a chance.
Shawn Marion, UFA
Not many free agents on this list are capable of having the type of impact Marion can, as he can still cover multiple positions defensively and enable his coach to get creative in terms of defensive schemes.
With the league going to stretch big men more and more, Marion is the perfect counter to all that. He’s still athletic and crafty enough to get by on the offensive end while providing great efforts on the glass and in transition. Although he may need to accept a bench role, Marion should land with a contender.
Wesley Johnson, UFA
His career isn’t dead yet. Johnson had a bit of a revival under Mike D’Antoni as a small 4, as he was able to use his athleticism to block shots and play some decent defense.
There’s hope he’ll continue to develop his outside shot and become the versatile three-and-D forward he was first labeled as. He still has a long way to go in that regard, but he’s a solid bench piece.
Al-Farouq Aminu, UFA
He rebounds and runs the floor, and that’s it. Al-Farouq Aminu is offensively challenged in a serious way, so it’s hard to justify ruining the floor spacing just to have his contributions elsewhere.
That being said, Aminu can spend some time at the 4 with a team that wants to get up and down the court, as he can both start a break and finish it. He’s a nightmare in the half court and should be a better defender, but he’s still young at 23 years old with potential to be a much better player than he is now.
Ed Davis, UFA
Update: Ed Davis signed a two-year deal with the L.A. Lakers on July 16, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Something doesn’t add up here. Ed Davis has put up pretty good numbers in the time he’s received at every stop, but he just hasn’t been able to win over coaches and receive consistent minutes. It’s hard to say why that is, but the talent and production are clearly there.
Davis can rebound and protect the rim, and offensively he has a decent touch around the basket. That’s a rotation-quality big man for most teams.
Andray Blatche, UFA
He clearly has the skills. Andray Blatche can play on the perimeter or with his back to the basket, with the latter likely being preferred since he tends to fall in love with his jumper.
He has made some serious improvements on the defensive end and on the glass over the last few years, and mobile, skilled big men with size usually don’t go untouched on the market. He makes sense as a third big man for a lot of teams.
Elton Brand, UFA
Yes, he’s on his last legs, but Elton Brand can still provide reliable production in a bench role. Having a veteran with plenty of experience can be beneficial for any team, and Brand is a pro who gives great effort every night defensively.
Whether it’s blocking shots or defending the post, Brand is just a solid player who can offer some bonus shooting on the other end as well. If he wants to keep playing, he’ll be able to easily.
Greg Monroe, RFA
Would the Detroit Pistons big man dare accept his qualifying offer worth $5.5 million in order to become an unrestricted free agent next year? No player of his caliber has ever done that, but it’s the one surefire way to get out of Detroit by next year.
Monroe has the potential to be a franchise-quality big, as he can score from the low block, rebound and pass well out of either post. Defensively, he has some issues, but pair him with a shot-blocker who can stretch the floor, and he’d be a great option.
Kevin Seraphin, UFA
Another young big man with a lot of size and skill, Seraphin just hasn’t been able to put it all together early on in his career.
He’s a decent shooter, but he often settles too much and rarely shares the ball once he gets it. Seraphin isn’t a very good defender, either, as he’ll get lost or not rotate properly.
There are some effort concerns, but if a coach could light a fire under him and have him focus on doing the dirty work, he could turn into a diamond down the line.
Ekpe Udoh, UFA
Very few shot-blockers can conceivably play in the high post and provide a bit of floor spacing, and Ekpe Udoh is one of him. Although he hasn’t shown the offensive ability, Udoh is definitely a dangerous rim-protector who hunts for shots.
He’s a poor rebounder despite his size and an extremely limited scorer around the rim, but he has a niche skill that’s in demand. He can help a second unit defensively quite a bit.