NBA Free Agents 2011: Power Ranking the 5 Best Available Veterans
Compared to the NBA Free Agency period in 2010, the 2011 class is simply lackluster. This free agent class is instead filled with role players like Nene and Tyson Chandler; guys who will not change an organization's fortunes all on their own, but rather who will join forces with superstars to bring a team over the brink of contention.
Here are five veterans in the 2011 class who will be the most coveted by teams needing just that extra push to get into championship conversation.
(Of course, that is if we have a season at all.)
5. Jason Richardson, G/F, Orlando Magic
Jason Richardson is not going to be on the Orlando Magic next season (whenever that is), of that you can be certain.
The high powered scorer simply has too high of an asking price for the Magic to pay him, and he wants to play for a contender, which, of course, the Magic will not be if they lose or trade Dwight Howard. In their desire to keep Howard, it is possible that the Magic may not be able to meet his asking price.
He is a top-notch scorer when he wants to be, even though his defense is suspect. Teams will be gunning for him when the market opens. His 15 points per game and basketball I.Q would be welcome on any borderline contender.
4. Jamal Crawford, G, Atlanta Hawks
Jamal Crawford is, simply put, an offensive machine. He can hit a pull up jumper, run the pick-and-roll and of course, has a mean three-pointer. He is a scoring guard in every sense of the term and is a solid starter or sixth man, depending on the needs of a team.
Crawford brings an explosive force to the offensive side of any team's game plan. The Chicago Bulls should be seeking to bring him back and augment their woeful shooting guard position next season.
He is an almost nonexistent defender, but when you consider the amount of offense he brings to the table, it is a manageable trade off. Especially if he is used as a sixth man, where he can be brought in for offensive bursts.
3. David West, PF, New Orleans Hornets
David West decided to take his option to terminate his contract before the start of the 2011 season. He clearly has no desire to stay with the New Orleans Hornets, and with good reason. The organization is in turmoil, and Chris Paul is almost certain to leave them via trade or free agency.To that end, West has decided to test the market in spite of his ACL surgery, which could hurt his asking price somewhat.
Arguably the New Orleans Hornets second best player after Chris Paul, West has a great medium range jumper and hits a high percentage of his shots on a consistent basis. He has been good for 17 to 20 points a game for the last six seasons, as well as about eight rebounds per contest.
The only concerns that really exist with West are his size and health, small factors when you consider that he is a veteran with a solid basketball IQ.
Reportedly, several teams are already interested, including the New Jersey Nets, who need playmakers like West if they even have a hope of keeping Deron Williams.
2. Nene, C, Denver Nuggets
Nene just might be the most efficient center in the NBA. He scores 15 points per contest with around 61 percent shooting.
He can handle the rock, take it to the rim, has an excellent post-up game and is just an all-around offensive presence as a big man.
The problem lies with his defense and rebounding. He doesn't dominate the paint like a big man his size is supposed to, and he is a pretty poor rebounder with 7.6 boards a game, especially for a guy who is 6'11''.
Having said that, the NBA is a center-starved league. He is in the top three centers in basketball today in terms of offense, and you can bet that there will be plenty of teams clamoring for his services when the market opens up. There just aren't enough scoring centers for defense to really harm his value.
1. Tyson Chandler, C, Dallas Mavericks
Tyson Chandler is the best veteran available on this free agent. He is not a flashy guy when it comes to stats, but he is capable of being the anchor of any defense.
Dirk Nowitzki himself called Tyson Chandler the team's MVP. It was his addition that helped them get over the defensive hump and back into the finals.He simply dominates the paint with his seven foot frame and the tenacity and physicality of his play.
He fights for every block, every board and every defensive stop. He can throw it down when he needs to and is relatively good at staying out of foul trouble for somebody as physical as he is. He was good for nearly a double-double per game in 2010-11, with 9.4 RPG and 10.1 PPG.
As the face of the defense that won the NBA Finals this year, you can bet that just about everybody wants Tyson Chandler on their team next season. Mark Cuban is going to have to open up his checkbook.
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