The Top 5 Free Agents of This Year's Class
If we assume that the tentative agreement reached in the wee hours of this morning holds true, NBA free agency will begin on Dec. 9.
That leaves only 16 days of free agency before the reported start of the regular season. This is eerily similar to the situation that followed the NFL lockout.
What followed was a free agent frenzy; so many players were signed in such a short period of time.
NBA teams will have very little time to make their pitches to top free agents, for these players will need to report to camp in order to prepare for the start of the season.
Although the free agents this year lack the star power of the 2010 class or next summer's anticipated 2012 class, there is a wealth of talent that will be desired by contenders for the upcoming 66-game season.
Here are my top five.
5. Jason Richardson
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Richardson's age is a concern, but the 6-foot-6 wing can still score with the best of them.
After being dealt from Phoenix to Orlando midway through last season, Richardson's scoring averaged dipped nearly six points. Regardless, if he lands in the right situation with the right team, Richardson can still be an effective scorer.
In addition, although he's not the same J-Rich who won consecutive dunk contests in 2002 and 2003, Richardson is still one of the league's most explosive players. He knows how to finish in the open court.
Possible Destinations: Chicago, Orlando, Philadelphia
4. David West
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West is a two-time All Star, but his best years are behind him. The power forward averaged 18.9 ppg in 30 games with New Orleans last season, where he was the beneficiary of one of the league's best passing point guards: Chris Paul.
West is a two-time All Star. But at age 31 and coming off a major knee surgery, many question whether he can still be an elite player at his position.
Nonetheless, the Xavier alum. would be a nice fit for most teams. The good news for West is that, because this year's free agent class is relatively weak, there will likely be a team willing to overpay.
Possible Destinations: Pacers, Nets
3. Marc Gasol
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Gasol's impressive 2011 postseason was testament to the fact that the 26-year-old is one of the league's best true centers.
The Spaniard averaged 15 ppg in this year's playoffs, and was a huge presence inside for Memphis. There aren't many seven footers in today's NBA with the skills like Gasol's.
Who couldn't use a physical force inside to clog up the lane? One who can post up and dish to open shooters/cutters. What's more, Gasol is young, and we know he has those good bloodlines.
Marc may not be as skilled as his older brother yet, but he certainly has more toughness than Pau.
Possible Destinations: New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies
2. Tyson Chandler
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Without Chandler, Dallas simply could not have beaten the Miami Heat in the Finals. Actually, they probably wouldn't have reached the finals.
Chandler changed Dallas' entire defensive mentality, bringing a toughness that this team lacked in previous years. His ability to rebound and block shots are second to none.
Chandler can also score, averaging 10.1 ppg last year for the Mavs.
Possible Destinations: Dallas, New York, New Jersey, Miami
1. Nene Hilario
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The 6-foot-11, 250-lb big is the most skilled center in this year's class.
Nene is a solid double-digit scorer who also provides toughness on defense.
The top championship contenders in today's NBA--Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Los Angeles-- all have explosive wing-scorers who like to drive into the lane.
Like Chandler, Nene will make those players--LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, etc.-- think twice before driving. He is a force that could do for a contender what Chandler did for Dallas last season.
Possible destinations: Denver, Golden State, New Jersey, Houston, New York, Indiana
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