2011 NBA Free Agency: Top 18 Offensive Players

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2011

2011 NBA Free Agency: Top 18 Offensive Players

0 of 18

    ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 03:  Guard Jason Richardson #23 of the Orlando Magic reacts during a game against the Miami Heat at Amway Arena on February 3, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/o
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    As we draw closer and closer to an NBA finale between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, other teams are already scoping out the free-agent market.

    High-profile players are eligible to bring their talents elsewhere, creating some buzz around the NBA community.

    Whether it's high scoring, solid play off the bench or just pure playmaking ability, free agents are going to bring a lot of heat to whatever team signs them.

    These acquisitions can make or break a team's season, and others will put certain franchises over the top into championship contention.

    With that said, here are the top 18 offensive free agents in the upcoming NBA offseason.

18. PG Aaron Brooks (Restricted)

1 of 18

    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 30:  Aaron Brooks #0 of the Phoenix Suns in action during the NBA game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at US Airways Center on March 30, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Thunder defeated the Suns 116-98.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ac
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Brooks is still one of the more productive offensive point guards in the league.

    He can bang the three and get to the rim, sometimes at ease.

    The 26-year-old Oregon Duck should be able to land somewhere competitive if Phoenix decides to part ways.

    Brooks has the ability to drop 15 points and seven assists given the opportunity to play every day and having an actual pure scorer alongside him.

17. SF Grant Hill

2 of 18

    BOSTON, MA - MARCH 02:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks on in the first half against the Boston Celtics on March 2, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The 38-year-old vet not only showed that his reconstructed knees can withstand the trials and tribulations of a full NBA season, but that he is still able to be an offensive threat.

    The former Piston averaged 13.2 PPG in 2010-2011, the most he's produced since 2006.

    While many teams will be put off by his age, Hill remains a solid starter in the league.

    Able to hit the mid-range jumper with the best of them, his unselfish play will lead to a better all-around offense for any team that signs the longtime great.

16. SF Caron Butler

3 of 18

    SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 25:  Caron Butler #4 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 25, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Carol Butler has missed over half of the season due to a surgically repaired knee, repelling a lot of potential suitors heading in the 2011 offseason.

    Many people have forgotten that Butler not only helped the Mavs win early in the season, but that the 31-year-old vet averaged over 15 PPG before he went down.

    It will be hard for the Mavericks to let Butler go.  Even more so if they win the championship because all in all, he contributed to the cause.

    However, a lot of teams are going to be out and about for a small forward who can not only defend well, but knock down shots from anywhere on the court.

15. PG/SG Shannon Brown

4 of 18

    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Shannon Brown #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers makes a move to the basket against the Miami Heat during the NBA game at Staples Center on December 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Heat defeated the Lakers 96-80.  NOTE
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Brown is downright explosive.

    Sort of the Chris Johnson of the NBA.

    He's already cemented himself as one of the best in-game dunkers around, creating points by slashing inside defenses.

    Brown, 25, has a player option to return to L.A.

    But if he's smart, going along with the notion that Kobe is in his decline, Brown may decide to take more money and run away with an opportunity to start in the NBA.

14. SF Tayshaun Prince

5 of 18

    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 03:  Tayshaun Prince #22 of the Detroit Pistons against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph,
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Is Tayshaun getting old?

    I don't think so.

    It seems like it.  Probably just because the Pistons haven't been competing for any Eastern Conference championships in the recent past.

    However, Prince keeps on scoring, putting up over 14 PPG this year and helping to keep the interest of the fans that Detroit has left.

    Heading into free agency, the 31-year-old should be viewed as an ideal candidate for a competitive playoff team.

    Prince has the ability to hit the long-range shot, get to the free-throw line with his sometimes erratic drives, and provide his team with offensive consistency.

13. SF Jeff Green (Restricted)

6 of 18

    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: Jeff Green #8 of the Boston Celtics moves against Ronnie Brewer #11 of the Chicago Bulls at United Center on April 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 97-81. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Green was not the same player in Boston that he seemed to be in Oklahoma City.

    It might of been a product of playing with an elite scorer like Durant, but can Paul Pierce be that bad?

    No.  And I'm not blaming him, but Green was unable to score with the consistency he did with his previous team.

    Being a restricted free agent, Boston will more or less try to keep him on board, especially if Ray Allen takes his talents to New York.

    Say what!?

    Look for Green to maintain his status as a solid scorer with enough size to play multiple positions in any offensive scheme.

12. SF Thaddeus Young (Restricted)

7 of 18

    MIAMI, FL - APRIL 16:  Forward Thaddeus Young #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 16, 2011 in Miami, Florida.The H
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Young is relatively unknown to the common NBA fan.

    Playing for a subpar Sixers team doesn't do him any good, too.

    But the fact remains that even after he's played four productive seasons for the Philadelphia 76ers, Young is still only 22.

    He averaged over 15 PPG during his sophomore year and has managed to maintain a 12.5 PPG career average.

    Even though Young is currently a restricted free agent, a lot of teams will be after the young talent who offers an ability to score from anywhere on the floor while limiting his turnovers.

11. PG/SG Marcus Thornton (Restricted)

8 of 18

    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 21: Marcus Thornton #23 of the Sacramento Kings moves against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 21, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Kings 132-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    There's a reason why Marcus Thornton comes in at No. 11 on this list.

    He's filthy.

    Thornton basically took over the reins in Sacramento during his sophomore season after Tyreke Evens hit a midseason wall.

    The 23-year-old guard from LSU showed this year that he's more than capable of running an offense, averaging 21.3 PPG with the Kings after coming over from New Orleans.

    While Sac-town has first dibs on the young scorer, it will be hard to keep any NBA team away.

    A young guard who can play the 1- or 2-role while scoring over 20 PPG—how can you go wrong?

10. PG J.J. Barea

9 of 18

    DALLAS, TX - MAY 17:  Jose Juan Barea #11 of the Dallas Mavericks goes up for a shot against James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 17, 201
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    After seeing what Barea has done these playoffs, the 26-year-old point guard will be one of the most sought-after players in the free-agent market.

    At just 6'0", 175 lbs., Barea has been an absolute menace for defenses.

    He can shoot, he can pass in unbelievable situations and he can get to the hoop with his fearless drives.

    Barea has resembled an early Allen Iverson, in the way he attacks the rim and creates plays based on his speed and size alone.

    It's been a little bit of a disappointment to see him coming off the bench behind Jason Kidd, but heading into the 2011 offseason, the gutsy guard will be regarded as everything but an off-the-bench signing.

9. SG Leandro Barbosa

10 of 18

    DENVER, CO - MARCH 21:  Leandro Barbosa #20 of the Toronto Raptors takes a shot against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on March 21, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Raptors 123-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Even after scoring 18 PPG with the Suns a few years ago, Barbosa has consistently been one of the most underrated NBA scorers.

    The fact remains, if he gets minutes, he'll put up points.

    Only 28, Barbosa still has some gas left in the tank to turn into an NBA starter.

    He'll surely opt to leave Toronto and maybe move back into the Western Conference, where his free-running ways have played out the best.

    Barbosa has proved time and time again that in the right offensive scheme, his speed and pure athleticism can create plays in a run-and-gun fashion.

8. C Marc Gasol (Restricted)

11 of 18

    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 03:  Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots a jumper over Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2011 at Okl
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Gasol probably won't leave Memphis, but it's entertaining to think of how good he could be if went to a better team.

    The younger brother of Pau, Marc has excelled as an NBA starting center.  One that can score, too.

    More than capable of dropping 15 PPG, the 26-year-old has a certain skill set that usually isn't associated with NBA big men.

    With great vision, strong knowledge of the game and a hungry attitude, Gasol will prove to be one of the better scoring centers the league has to offer heading into the next five years.

7. SG J.R. Smith

12 of 18

    DENVER, CO - MARCH 23:  J.R. Smith #5 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates after scoring against the San Antonio Spurs to give the Nuggets their first lead of the game 99-98 in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center on March 23, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Please give this man a starting job.

    Smith is first and foremost a hot-and-cold shooter.

    When he's on, he can score with the best of them.  When he's off, he can put up shots that will have you scratching your head.

    However, the 25-year-old seems like he would be much more comfortable in an offense featuring a superstar.  It's too bad the Nuggets let Carmelo walk out the door.

    Smith has shown glimpses of potentially turning into a 20-plus PPG threat, but he's never fully put it all together.

    One of the reasons is because he's played off the bench for the past seven years.

    With a three-point shot that can spark any offense, great speed and finishing ability, Smith should be in for a big payday come this offseason.

6. SG Nick Young (Restricted)

13 of 18

    WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18:  Nick Young #1 of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against the Miami Heat at the Verizon Center on December 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or u
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Nick Young is a pure scorer.

    The 25-year-old increased his PPG total nearly 10 points from last year to this season.

    The reason why Young continues to go unnoticed around the league is because he plays for the Wizards.  It's as simple as that.

    He's a 40 percent three-point shooter, 80 percent from the charity stripe, and rarely turns the ball over.

    Young has become one of the most sought-after players in the upcoming free-agent market.

    The only problem is, the Wizards are in charge of making the last call to keep him or kick him out the door.

5. PF David West

14 of 18

    PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 30:  David West #30 of the New Orleans Hornets puts up a shot over Vince Carter #25 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on January 30, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    West is an unrestricted free agent heading into the 2011 offseason.

    While many will speculate that the 30-year-old would like to stay in New Orleans, you have to consider that West may opt to leave after all the rumors revolving around Chris Paul's future as a Hornet.

    The NBA power forward has consistently played with the best at his position, averaging 20 PPG and eight RPG over the past five seasons.

    But for some reason, he constantly goes undervalued.

    It will be interesting to see where he lands this offseason, but a move to an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference wouldn't be a surprise.

4. SG Jamal Crawford

15 of 18

    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 12:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Omer Asik #3 and Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Geor
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Crawford showed this year during the playoffs that he's still one of the better scorers in the NBA.

    Does it matter he did it all off the bench?

    It shouldn't.

    Many teams will look for the 31-year-old to re-emerge as an NBA starter, but certain squads will find that his services are sometimes more productive when he's coming off the bench.

    Atlanta is one of those teams.

    The Hawks are going to go hard at trying to retain the veteran guard.  The team can't afford to lose a 15 PPG presence, which comes off the bench, in a growing Eastern Conference wallet contest.

    Even with an age that's sometimes considered old in the NBA, Crawford should be one of the quickest players to go off the free-agent board.

3. SG/SF Wilson Chandler (Restricted)

16 of 18

    MIAMI, FL - MARCH 19:  Forward Wilson Chandler #21 of the Denver Nuggets drives against Center Erick Dampier #25 of the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 19, 2011 in Miami, Florida.  The Heat defeated the Nuggets 103-98. NOTE TO USER: User ex
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Chandler is still under the control of Denver, so it's going to be hard for the 24-year-old to get out of Dodge.

    The small forward was a major piece in the Carmelo Anthony deal, supplementing the Nuggets rotation with his own Melo impression.

    Chandler is a solid option for any team looking for a 15 PPG scorer.

    He's relatively unselfish, serves as a decent passer and can catch fire at anytime.

    With nearly a career 14 PPG average, Chandler is ready to sign a long-term deal, putting him in reach of an offensive breakout.

    There has already been speculation of Chandler heading back to New York to play alongside Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, but speculation is mere speculation.

2. SG Jason Richardson

17 of 18

    MIAMI, FL - MARCH 03:  Jason Richardson #23 of the Orlando Magic reacts after a 3 pointer during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dow
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    J-Rich may be ready to leave Orlando.

    The only scenario in which Richardson stays in Florida is if the Magic and Dwight Howard agree on a long-term contract.

    With much speculation revolving around Howard and his future with the team, Richardson doesn't want to be stuck with Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick.

    The 30-year-old averaged nearly 16 PPG this season, which was a little lower than his totals from last year.

    However, considering he is the second guy in line, if not at times the third option to get the ball, his 2010-2011 season was fairly productive.

    Richardson will more or less serve as a role-playing shooter who can catch fire at any time.

    He's showed in the recent past that his skills are sound enough to dominate an entire game.

    With an 18 PPG career average, the NBA journeyman will look to find a permanent home for the next few years.

1. SG Ray Allen

18 of 18

    MIAMI, FL - MAY 11: Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics shoots a jump shot during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: Us
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    And here it is.

    Were you surprised?

    You shouldn't be.

    Ray Allen is one of the best three-point and free-throw shooters in NBA history, if not the best.

    He's consistently showcased his talents to an absolute tee, proving that age is not a factor for the 35-year-old.

    Allen does have a player option to stay in Boston, but does he really want to spend the final years of his career as a Celtic?

    Who knows?

    Allen could easily stay in Beantown and decide to give it one more heave-ho with the three amigos, but he does have other options.

    Being one of the best scorers in the league, Allen would be graciously welcomed by any NBA franchise.

    His skill set sometimes goes unmatched.

    A decision is going to come soon for Allen.

    Stay in Boston?  Or opt to test the championship waters in Los Angeles or New York?