NBA Free Agents 2011: Power Ranking the Top 22 Available Free Agents
Even though the 2011 NBA free agent class looks nothing like the class of 2010, there is plenty of high end talent to be signed. Unlike the 2010 class, this year's group is full of proven veterans who have won at the highest of levels.
Whether you need a defensive stopper, rebounding machine, scoring punch, sixth man presence, veteran leadership or all of the above, the class of 2011 has it.
Many of these players have flown under the radar for years, but now it is their time to have a moment in the spotlight. With tons of great role players and starters available from this list, the 2011 NBA standings are sure to take a significant change before the next playoffs.
Let's get this year's free agent party started. Here are the top 22 free agents available this summer.
22. Yao Ming, Unrestricted
Three years ago, Yao Ming would have likely been the first player on this list. However, major injury after major injury has derailed the big man’s career.
Considering Yao is an astonishing 7’6”, any injury is significant for a player that size.
The odds of Yao playing in 2011 are still up in the air, but you have to believe a courageous owner will take a chance on him. He simply has too much size, skill and presence to not take a risk on.
Don’t be surprised to see a risky owner take a one-year, heavily insured deal on Ming.
21. Caron Butler, Unrestricted
It is truly painful to put a player like Caron Butler this far down on the list. When considering all the things stacked against him, it doesn’t seem so bad.
Butler is now 31 years old and underwent major knee surgery this season. Those two put together is a very scary combination.
Butler is a true scorer that can light it up from anywhere on the court. With major surgery being done to his aging knee, it’s tough to predict how much quickness will be retained.
Expect Butler to still have his shot, while his explosiveness will be in serious question come signing time.
20. Carl Landry, Unrestricted
Landry is one of the most underrated power forwards in the NBA. When given minutes, Landry can really shine.
His opportunity for major minutes came at the expense of David West's knee. In Landry’s first start after West went down, the youngster from Purdue went off for 24 points and 10 boards.
Landry continued to chip in double digit points nearly every game, leading up to his solid performance in game one of the playoffs. In the upset win over L.A., Landry posted 17 points and five rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting.
Keep an eye on Landry, who has tons of potential money to gain with a solid showing in the playoffs.
19. Marcus Thornton, Unrestricted
Possibly the best scorer in this free agent class, Marcus Thornton can light it up like no other. After being shipped to Sacramento before the trade deadline, Marcus showed the NBA why he deserves to be in a starting role.
Through 27 games Thornton was averaging 21.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per game for Sacramento. Thornton also finished his season off on a high note, scoring 33 points against the playoff bound Lakers.
Even though Thornton was getting huge minutes on a team with nothing to lose, don’t disregard the fact that he can score with the best of them.
If Thornton can find the team best suited for him, he will be a routine 20+ points a game scorer.
18. Shane Battier, Unrestricted
There simply aren’t enough Shane Battier’s in the NBA. Being one of the few Duke players that actually panned out, Battier exemplifies leadership and veteran presence.
Every good championship team has a player like Battier that brings everyone together. Known as a lock-down defender, good decision maker, solid shot taker and great all-around teammate, Battier will always find himself a home in the NBA.
After knocking down the go-ahead three against San Antonio in game one, Battier should be able to find a quality three-to-five year deal, even at his age.
17. Arron Afflalo, Restricted
Currently enjoying his “break-out” year, it’s incredibly sad to see Afflalo finish the season injured. Afflalo hurt his hamstring a few weeks ago and has missed 13 of the Nuggets final 18 games. Even sadder is the fact that his chances of helping the Nuggets in the playoffs are very slim.
In 33.7 minutes, Afflalo averaged 12.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game. That type of production isn't overly impressive for 33.7 minutes a game, but Afflalo does the majority of his work on the defensive end.
At 6’5”, Afflalo is counted on to guard the other team’s best perimeter player night in and night out.
The Nuggets will have to offer Afflalo $2.9 million qualifying sheet, something that another team will surely match.
16. Jamal Crawford, Unrestricted
After not making the playoffs the first 10 years of his career, Crawford was finally able to play in the postseason last year with the Hawks. Primarily known as a scorer and “tweener,” Crawford has had trouble with the label of “team cancer.”
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t think that Crawford is a cancer. However, it’s hard to ignore how his teams have continually not performed as well as they're supposed to.
Known as a sixth man prototypical guy, Crawford will get his chances to score in bunches for other NBA teams.
With Atlanta $12 million over the salary cap, it’s pretty likely that Crawford will be on his fifth different team next season.
15. Jason Richardson, Unrestricted
Jason Richardson is one of the most interesting free agents this summer. At 30 years old, Richardson has really changed his game over the past few years.
First seen as an explosive dunker, Richardson has successfully transitioned to the perimeter where he knocks down threes.
In 55 games with Orlando this season, Richardson has posted his career low in points and field goal attempts per game. While much of this can be attributed to the other scorers in Orlando, some of it can be blamed on his body slowing down.
Richardson can still shoot with the best of them, but it will be interesting to see who takes a chance on him contributing in much else.
14. Andre Miller, Team Option
Miller has been shipped from team to team over his 11-year career. Now with Portland, Miller finds himself in a position where he could be on his sixth team by this summer.
The Blazers have the option of continuing Miller’s contract for one more year and are likely to do so. With Brandon Roy possibly down to his last couple of years in the NBA, Portland will need Miller’s veteran guidance.
Miller will be 36 by the end of next year and definitely won’t be seen as a hot commodity going into the 2012 free agency class.
Don’t anticipate Miller hitting free agency this year, but if he does, he could be a great presence on a playoff bound team.
13. Aaron Brooks, Restricted
Brooks is another player that will be presented with a qualifying offer sheet this summer. At just $3 million, the Suns will definitely attempt to re-sign Brooks for one more year.
After winning the 2009-10 Most Improved Player Award, the Suns really need a quality point guard to back up the aging Steve Nash.
However, other teams will get the opportunity to make an offer to Brooks. Cemented in the lineup behind Nash, Brooks could easily elect to ride out of town for more playing time.
Expect Brooks to at least deliberate on leaving Phoenix, especially since he deserves well more than 20 minutes per night.
12. Nick Young, Restricted
If you would have said Nick Young would be this high on the list before the season, people would have called you crazy. After leading the Wizards in scoring in 2010, people might say you didn’t have him up high enough.
Young blew up this season alongside John Wall, scorching the hoop night after night. The crazy part about Young is the potential he still has. Young is only 25 years old and didn’t play a serious minute in the NBA until this year.
The Wizards will have to offer Young a $3.7 million qualifying sheet to hopefully retain him for one more year. It’s truly hard to believe Young will ditch Washington, particularly because of all the success he had with Wall.
11. Kris Humphries, Unrestricted
Humphries, like Nick Young, really burst onto the scene in 2010.
Playing for three previous teams in six years, Humphries was rarely given the minutes to succeed. Now playing under “earn your minutes” coach Avery Johnson, Humphries had a great season in New Jersey.
Humphries finished the year averaging a double-double with 10.0 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. That double-double per game also came at an eye popping 27.9 minutes per game, demonstrating his efficiency on the floor.
The big man from Minnesota is an unrestricted free agent this summer and could really make a splash on the market. Teams are always looking for smart hustle players to attack the boards, which is exactly what Humphries game exudes.
10. Tayshaun Prince, Unrestricted
After nine years in Detroit, Prince’s time as a Piston will likely end this summer. Prince has given Detroit everything he has for almost a decade now, and the Pistons have given very little back of late.
After trading Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, the Pistons had trouble. Then they really screwed up by overpaying Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, something that has really hurt them over the last two years.
To almost no one’s surprise, Prince’s numbers haven’t gone down a shred over the past eight years.
Prince is long, quick, smart, agile, lanky and can knock down shots when he needs to. Prince may have to take a decent pay cut, but he might just find himself in the thick of the playoffs on another team next year.
9. Rodney Stuckey, Restricted
Rodney Stuckey arrived in Detroit right after all the success ended in 2007. The 24-year-old guard from Eastern Washington has been a Piston his entire career, developing into one heck of a player.
Stuckey fits the mold of new age point guards like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, measuring in at 6’5” and 205 pounds. Like those physical point guards, Stuckey knows how to use his body to get into the paint and score on a consistent basis.
Detroit will without a doubt present Stuckey with a $3.9 million qualifying offer this summer. Whether Stuckey wants to stick around for another year of mediocrity will be completely up to him.
Stuckey could easily ditch Detroit and elect to sign with a team with a much better chance of winning—something that multiple NBA teams are hoping for.
8. Jeff Green, Restricted
The former No. 5 overall pick hasn’t exactly lived up to his billing, constantly fitting the label of “tweener.”
However, with the Celtics' aging roster, it is hard to believe Boston won’t re-sign Green via a qualifying sheet. If Boston plans to have Green in their soon-to-be rebuilding efforts, they will need to him to sign that $5.9 million offer sheet.
If management believes Green is unable to build any chemistry with Rajon Rondo or snag at least a few rebounds a game, Boston and Danny Ainge will reconsider bringing Green back.
Numerous Boston fans hated on the trade involving Perkins and Green, which may make sense after Boston fell short against Miami.
7. Tyson Chandler, Unrestricted
Tyson Chandler is your prototypical definition of a late bloomer. After being selected No. 2 in the 2001 draft, Chandler didn’t have relevance in the NBA until 2006.
Chandler is showing tons of confidence after playing with Team USA this summer. The big man has honed in on rebounding. With his mixture of length, foot speed and energy, he is able to grab rebounds by the boat load.
Chandler will still never be able to take jump shots, but his ability to dominate the paint is second to few. At 28 years old, don’t be surprised to see somebody offer Chandler a deal he can’t turn down.
6. Wilson Chandler, Restricted
Wilson Chandler is easily one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He always seems to do it all and rarely gets the credit he deserves.
Chandler makes shots, plays defense, rebounds well and rarely makes bad decisions with the ball.
With the NBA always craving for players like Chandler, the 23 year old is a very hot commodity. Fortunately for Denver, all they have to do is convince Chandler to sign a qualifying offer sheet worth $3.1 million.
Chandler will likely remain in Denver for at least one more year, leaving the following year as a complete mystery.
5. David West, ETO
If David West didn’t tear his ACL a couple weeks ago, he would have been in line for big time money. Now that West is out for at least a few months to start next season, it is highly unlikely that he will decide to terminate his contract this summer.
West has been very consistent for years now, able to get open shots from Chris Paul all game. His jump shot, ability on offense and overall hustle in his game make him a prized free agent.
However, West could have plenty to gain by leaving town. With all the Paul rumors already swirling, West would be able to dodge all the distractions be leaving town this summer.
Expect West to stay in New Orleans one more season, then follow Paul’s lead by ditching the Big Easy the year after.
4. Marc Gasol, Unrestricted
News during the playoffs reported that Zach Randolph had signed a contract extension with Memphis, which could end Gasol’s run with the Grizzlies.
Gasol had a pretty disappointing 2010, but he still does so much for the team that can’t be ignored. There are zero centers in the NBA that can shoot like him and regularly pass up shots in favor of teammates. His unselfishness is contagious, and it now has the Grizzlies contending in the playoffs.
With plenty of teams looking for legitimate centers, Gasol could be in for a huge contract. Just 26 years old, Gasol has the potential to be at an All-Star level—given the right situation.
Keep a close eye on Marc Gasol and his summer plans; fewer free agents will have as much impact on another team as him.
3. Ray Allen, Team Option
The Boston Celtics and Ray Allen could be in for major changes this summer. After falling short against the Miami Heat, Allen could be headed in a new direction.
Even though Allen is 35 years old, nobody questions his durability. Taking extremely good care of his body has been a staple for Allen, who has rarely missed games over his 14-year career.
Allen has long been regarded with the prettiest shot in the NBA and it is hard to find someone who will argue that.
Allen has a player option for 2011 and a lot of that depends on other circumstances. Keep a close eye on Allen and the rest of the Celtics roster that isn't under contract long term.
2.Nene Hilario, ETO
Nene has really established himself as a dominant center over the past few years. After the Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony, Nene demonstrated how dominant he can be down low.
Nene has been one of the most consistent and under-appreciated big men in the NBA the past few seasons. With his big, bruising body, Nene is able to push around whoever he wants in the post. On top of his strength, Nene has an array of post moves that make him a threat from anywhere inside 15 feet.
It is hard to believe Nene won’t opt out of his deal in search of a long term one. He will be 29 by the beginning of next year, meaning he would be 30 if he waits another year to hit free agency in 2012.
Nene simply has too much to gain by not opting for free agency this year. This big man will have a huge impact on the 2011 free agent’s class, and he could set the ripple effect by being the first one to sign.
1. Tim Duncan, ETO
Tim Duncan, aka “Mr. Fundamental,” is still anchoring the interior for San Antonio. Crazy enough as it sounds, Duncan actually has the option of leaving the Spurs after this season. Duncan has an opt-out clause in his contract that would let him see free agency for the first time.
As a big NBA fan, I personally can’t envision Duncan in any other jersey besides the black and silver.
There isn’t anything Duncan does that can be complained about. He scores, defends, passes and makes great decision after great decision. After all, you don’t get the nickname “Mr. Fundamental” for not doing something right.
Duncan is now 34 years old and playing a career low in minutes per game. Adding to the sad part of his 2011 campaign, Duncan is averaging less than 10 boards and 18 points for the first time as well.
However, it’s still Tim Duncan and the guy flat out gets it done. His low minute totals can be attributed to San Antonio’s great record, giving Greg Popovich a chance to rest Duncan frequently.
Duncan has the chance to shock the entire NBA by opting out of his deal. If he does, you can only imagine how many teams will be salivating at the thought of acquiring him.