NBA Free Agency 2011: The Top 10 Free Agents and Where They Could Land
It's no secret that the chances for an NBA season have been severely diminished of late, but there are still free agents out there waiting for the two sides to sign the new CBA.
Once this agreement is finalized, teams will have two weeks to sign these free agents before training camp starts. Just to clarify, unrestricted means that a free agent can sign with any team and restricted allows the player’s previous team to match any offer.
Here are the top 10 NBA free agents and the teams that could pursue them.
10. Rodney Stuckey (Restricted)
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Rodney Stuckey is a solid combo guard. At 6’5", he is a slasher and has a devastating crossover. He attacks the rim tirelessly and can blow by any average defender.
He put up solid numbers in ’10-’11. He averaged 15.5 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. Stuckey also shot an impressive 86.6 percent from the charity stripe.
Stuckey must work on his outside jumper, as he only shot 29 percent from the three-point line. He also must become more efficient on offense and improve his 42.3 career FG percentage. The good news is that Stuckey is only 25 years old.
Best Fit: Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz
9. Tyson Chandler
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Tyson Chandler was a major reason why the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. His presence in the paint cannot be overlooked, and he is a rebounding machine. In ’10-’11, Chandler scored 10.1 points, grabbed 9.4 boards and blocked 1.1 shots per game.
People tend to forget about Tyson Chandler. Even though he was drafted in 2001, Chandler is only 29 years old. He has a lot of gas left in the tank, and there are plenty of teams that could use a defensive-minded big man.
Best Fit: Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Miami Heat
8. Jamal Crawford
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Jamal Crawford can provide instant offense off the bench, a skill that is invaluable to any contending team. If there is one thing Crawford knows how to do, it is to put the ball in the basket. Over the past six seasons, Jamal has averaged 18.3 points per game. He won the 6th Man of the Year Award in 2009-2010.
Jamal saw his scoring dip a little last year due to diminished minutes on the Hawks, but he can provide a spark when a team needs it the most. Teams who lack a pure scorer and/or have a thin bench will pursue Crawford.
Best Fit: San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls
7. Aaron Brooks (Restricted)
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Aaron Brooks had a brilliant season in ’09-’10, posting a career best 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game.
He followed that up with a disappointing ’10-’11 season: his points per game decreased by eight and he averaged an assist-and-a-half less per game. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns and saw his numbers/minutes decrease even further.
Brooks has some attitude problems, and he needs to improve his passing game. His FG percentage (38.8 percent last season) needs to be more efficient as well. He is more of a risk/reward type of player, but he can be a big asset to many teams.
Best Fit: Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz
6. Jeff Green (Restricted)
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Jeff Green, at 6'9", is a talented young player. He is long and has a well-balanced offensive game. Green can shoot and take the ball to the rim effectively. He was off to another great start with the Thunder, averaging 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in '10-'11.
Green was then traded to the Celtics, and so far he has struggled to get acclimated to the Celtic offense. Green has also seen his minutes take a hit, which is definitely a major factor in his decreased production.
Green is just 25 years old, and would be a great asset to any team. He is a restricted free agent, and the Celtics will probably match offers for him, especially considering that the careers of Pierce, Ray Allen and KG are coming to an end.
Best Fit: Boston Celtics, New Orleans Hornets
5. Thaddeus Young (Restricted)
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Thaddeus Young is an athletic shooting guard/small forward who has tremendous potential. At 6’8", with a long wingspan (shout out to Jay Bilas), he can pose serious matchup problems for opposing teams. Coming off the bench in ’10-’11, Young posted 12.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and shot an impressive 54 percent from the field.
Thaddeus has a similar game to that of Josh Smith. They are both tall lefties who can hit a mid-range jumper and finish strong at the rim. Thaddeus has impressive upper-body strength and has the natural ability to control his body in mid-air. He can also jump out of the gym; he has a chance to be featured on ESPN’s Top Ten every night.
In order to truly resemble Josh Smith, Young needs to improve his defense and become more of a shot-blocker. At age 23, he has plenty of time to augment to his game.
It is hard to see the Sixers letting this young talent escape, but there are definitely a few teams who will make a serious run at him.
Best Fit: Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Bobcats
4. David West
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David West would be higher on this list if it were not for his torn ACL in March of 2011. West’s game is as fundamentally sound as they come for a power forward. He is a dangerous scorer and has a fantastic mid-range game. He can also catch the ball on the block and finish with either hand. He is a solid rebounder and a good defender.
West was having another great season before his injury. He dropped 19 points, grabbed 7.6 rebounds and averaged a steal and a block per game. He also shot 51 percent from the field and 80.7 percent from the free-throw line.
West is 31 years old and coming off major knee surgery. He is still an All-Star caliber player, but these are definitely two major concerns moving forward.
Best Fits: Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers
3. Marc Gasol (Restricted)
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Marc Gasol made himself a household name in the 2010-2011 NBA playoffs, when he averaged 15 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.
Gasol has great touch around the rim and can step back and hit the 15-foot jumper. He is a career 54.5 percent shooter from the field and can score with either hand. He is a force on defense and, at 7’1" and 265 lbs, is an imposing figure in the paint.
Gasol is only 26 years old and has a lot of upside. The Grizzlies will try to resign him, but a team with money available could swoop in and make him a significant offer.
Best Fit: Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers
2. Wilson Chandler (Restricted)
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Wilson Chandler has the potential to be an elite scorer in the NBA. At 6’8", Chandler has an impressive offensive game. He has a good outside shot complemented by an impressive ability to score at the rim.
He has greatly improved his three-point shot and is now a threat from any spot on the floor. He also averages a block-and-a-half per game, which is extraordinary for a small forward.
Chandler is only 24 years old, and he has all the tools to be a Top-10 scorer in the NBA. There will be plenty of suitors for Chandler, and Denver will have to decide whether to match the offer.
Best Fit: LA Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers
1. DeAndre Jordan (Restricted)
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DeAndre Jordan has the most potential by far of any free agent in this class. Athletic big men are few and far between in the NBA. DeAndre, at 6’11" and 265lbs, is all that and more. He is a freak athlete and is a monster on the defensive end.
He spent this past summer working with the legend, Hakeem Olajuwon, on his back-to-the-basket moves. Thus, his offensive game should be much improved in 2012.
Digest these numbers for a second. Per 48 minutes, DeAndre is averaging 13.3 points, 13.5 rebounds (five offensive), 3.3 blocks and one steal per game. Perhaps the most eye-popping stat; he shot 69 percent from the field. DeAndre has not even scratched the surface of his potential.
At 23 years of age, DeAndre has an impressive level of maturity and has the skill set to become one of the more dominant big men in the NBA. The Clippers will do everything they can to re-sign DeAndre, but there could be a few teams who offer him a big contract.
Best Fit: LA Clippers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics