NBA Free Agency 2012: Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and 10 Players Prime for Pickup

Alex MonacoContributor IIApril 5, 2011

NBA Free Agency 2012: Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and 10 Players Prime for Pickup

0 of 10

    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    The NBA is stocked with more talent now than ever before. Last offseason we experienced one of the biggest free agencies in NBA history. Even though the 2011 NBA offseason is on deck, the 2012 offseason is one we can look ahead to with particular excitement.

    Stars like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett will be entering the free-agency market all as unrestricted free agents. This means that we may see another power shift in the NBA like we've seen on more than one occasion over the last several years.  

    Let's take a look into the future at some unrestricted free agents entering the 2012 NBA offseason.  

10. Gerald Wallace

1 of 10

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Wallace is in his 10th season in the NBA now with the Portland Trailblazers. He will be an unrestricted free agent in the 2012 offseason.  

    One thing has remained a constant for Gerald and that's his productivity as a scorer. Other than his first three years in Sacramento, Wallace has averaged at least double digits in PPG over his entire career. He averaged 15.6 PPG with the Bobcats in 48 games this year before being traded and 15.4 PPG in 19 games with Portland. 

    Wallace is also an excellent rebounder, averaging 8.2 RPG this season and 6.3 RPG in his career. On paper he's impressive, but it's the little things he does as a role player for teams that allows him to be successful against any team he faces.

    In a couple years he will have a little more mileage on him, but that shouldn't take too much away from what he's done up until this point. He's also extremely durable, playing 50-plus games eight out of his 10 seasons in the NBA.

9. Elton Brand

2 of 10

    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Believe it or not, but Elton Brand has been in the NBA since the '99-'00 season with the Chicago Bulls. He played another season in Chicago before playing seven years with the Clippers, and now is in his third year with the 76ers. Brand's made a lot of money for his services thus far as a basketball player, and we'll see what kind of contracts he gets offered this time around as a free agent.

    Brand has averaged an impressive 18.8 PPG throughout his career, including an astounding 24.7 PPG as a career high in the '05-'06 season with the Clippers. Brand's also averaged a double-double in six of his seasons, which means six times he's had at least 10 rebounds on average throughout the course of a season.

    Elton is getting older, but his ability as a scorer has still remained true. He's incredibly gifted, and at 6'9", 254 pounds, he's not easy to move around down low. If a team has some space, and Brand is willing to possibly pull a Malone-type move and take a paycut in order to win a championship, Brand could top his career off the right way. Until now, it's fun to dabble with the thought.

8. Chauncey Billups

3 of 10

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Whoever said Chauncey Billups doesn't have game anymore is ridiculous. Billups is averaging 17 PPG this season, 5.4 APG and 2.6 RPG. He's also playing around 33 minutes a game, which is a lot more minutes than most 14-year veterans.  

    Billups' nickname is "Mr. Big Shot" and it's for good reason. He has a tremendous knack for being able to knock down shots in big-time spots. Billups has played on a championship team in Detroit, and wants to get back to the promise land one last time before he hangs it up.  

    Chauncey is one of those point guards that puts the team before him in any situation. Every coach loves to have a player like Chauncey and it's honestly going to be up to him where he wants to end his career.

    Regardless, he's still got game and teams will be after him in the summer of 2012.  

7. Andrew Bynum

4 of 10

    Harry How/Getty Images

    Everyone remember a high school kid named Andrew Bynum who begged and pleaded to be a part of the last draft class to ever be eligible for the NBA after high school? Fast forward six seasons and two rings later, and we've got an experienced center now in his sixth year with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Bynum has had a very up-and-down career, even though he's been apart of a winning franchise. Bynum has had two major knee operations that have certainly slowed him down a step or two. However, even with all the injuries, when he's healthy he remains a forced to be reckoned with.

    He's averaging 10.5 PPG and 7.1 RPG in his career. The intelligence is still on the rise and so is his game. Each day this young center gets better, and if he remains healthy during the rest of his contract, he'll have the entire league gunning for him come summer of 2012. 

6. Jason Kidd

5 of 10

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Jason Kidd has been the model for what an ideal point guard is ever since he started playing basketball at a high level. Kidd has always been about making plays for others, and when it's all said and done, he will go down as one of the purest passers in the history of the NBA.  

    Kidd this season is averaging 7.9 PPG and 8.3 APG. In his career, Kidd has maintained an average of 13.3 PPG, 9.2 APG and 6.4 RPG. He's one of the few in the league that can hit you with a triple-double on any given night.  

    Kidd has achieved just about every accolade in his career, except for a ring. He came to Dallas with the hopes of one, but with the Los Angeles Lakers continuously putting pressure on Dallas, the thought of the Mavs bringing home a ring remains a distant thought. 

    Kidd made a lot of money coming over to the Mavs and I don't see that happening this time around as a free agent. However, Kidd has proved he can still play, and I'm sure he will compromise for another shot at a ring. Any team looking to add intelligence and creativity to their roster should take a look at No. 5.  

5. Steve Nash

6 of 10

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Nash is in his 15th year in the NBA and he's still competing at an extremely high level. The Canadian-born point guard has proved his resiliency year after year. Nash is tough as nails, and just like Kidd, is one of the model point guards for any young kids wanting to learn how to properly facilitate a basketball.

    Nash has averaged 14.6 PPG, 8.5 APG and 3 RPG over his impressive career. He's one of those players who you root for any chance you get because he's been so good for so long, and still doesn't have a ring. 

    Still, in 2012 there is one more chance for Nash to figure out what kind of position he wants to put himself in before it's all over. The good news is, he'll have some options.  

4. Kevin Garnett

7 of 10

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If you were to say that Kevin Garnett revolutionized the power forward position, you might not be that far off. Garnett, who's in his incredible 16th season in the NBA, has been a menace on defense, a prolific scorer with 18-21 foot range and a leader in more ways than one.

    In his career, Garnett has averaged 19.5 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.5 BPG and 1.3 SPG. Garnett always does what's best for the team, and definitely wears his emotions on his sleeve because of his competitive nature and burning desire to win.  

    Although Garnett is 34 now, he still moves up and down the court pretty well. Sometimes being mentally stronger than anyone else you're competing against can play to your advantage over physicality.

    That seems to be Garnett's norm, and if he's still healthy in 2012, they'll be plenty of opportunities for him to find a job.

3. Deron Williams

8 of 10

    Warren Little/Getty Images

    Deron Williams is having a monster season in his sixth year in the NBA, averaging 20.2 PPG, 10.1 APG and 4 RPG. Williams, ever since he went third overall in the 2005 NBA draft, has not disappointed. 

    He's done an incredible job with the caliber of players he's been surrounded by, and he seems to make everyone around him better and more confident in their game. Williams can knock down long shots, short shots and big-time shots. He can run an offense just about as smoothly as anyone in the league and has a strong urge to be one of the best when it's all said and done.

    Williams will have a much-deserved offseason to figure out where he chooses to play the second part of his prime. However, a lot can happen with the current New Jersey Nets, including a move to Brooklyn.

    That could sway his decision, but regardless it's a long ways away. There's no doubt in anybody's mind that Deron will be a hot commodity in June 2012.  

2. Chris Paul

9 of 10

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Paul is in the middle of his sixth year in the NBA. Since being drafted out of Wake Forest, Paul has done nothing but electrify arenas with his unique way of creating opportunities. This season, Paul is averaging 16.1 PPG, 9.8 APG, 4.1 RPG and 2.4 SPG.   

    In his career as a Hornet, up until this point, Paul is averaging a double-double in points and assists at 18.8 PPG and 10 APG. His ability to create space is something that only a select few in this league at the point guard position can successfully execute. The passing, the awareness and the overall desire to be successful at the professional level is a huge asset to have on your side.

    There's been talks of Chris Paul joining Melo and Amar'e in New York. There's also been talks of him joining Kobe and Gasol, or even Wade and LeBron. Regardless, wherever Paul goes, the team is going to drastically benefit.  

Dwight Howard

10 of 10

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    There's not much downside to a guy who's 6'11", 265 pounds and has the athleticism that Howard possesses. Orlando made one of the smartest investments in the history of their franchise by drafting first overall back in 2004.  

    In this season alone, Howard is averaging 23.2 PPG, 14.2 RPG and 2.4 BPG. He's certainly turned it up a notch this season and you can tell that working closely with assistant coach Patrick Ewing has really started to pay off.  

    There seems to be no stopping Howard at this stage in his career, and him hitting the free-agency market in 2012 will be by far the biggest story in the NBA's offseason.  

    Orlando had a dominant center they let go once (Shaq)—let's hope the Magic learned their lesson the first time and find a way to hold on to Dwight.

    However, it's up to Dwight at this point and if he chooses to hit the road, you better expect every franchise in the NBA to come knocking.