2017 NBA Free-Agency Big Board: Top 25 Remaining Players

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 12, 2017

2017 NBA Free-Agency Big Board: Top 25 Remaining Players

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    This is the tortoise portion of 2017 NBA free agency, but slow and steady activity keeps the market moving.

    While the big names have long been off the board, rotation regulars continue to find new homes.

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who previously occupied our No. 1 spot, agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $18 million pact with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. Dewayne Dedmon settled upon a two-year, $14 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, The Vertical's Shams Charania reported, and the Detroit Pistons reunited with stretch big man Anthony Tolliver, per Charania.

    In other words, the money pool hasn't dried up, and neither has the list of candidates to collect it.

    Using our initial top 100 list, the following 25 players are the best still available. The group runs the gamut from opening-night starters to reclamation projects, but offseasons past prove effective signings come in all different sizes and salary amounts.

    If your team has retained cap space to burn, these are the optimal ways to invest it.

25-21: Withey, Morrow, Terry, Motiejunas, Jones

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    25. Jeff Withey, C, Unrestricted

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.6 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 76

    It's hard to stand out as a defensive-minded center when playing 8.5 minutes a night behind Rudy Gobert, but Withey made the most of his limited floor time. He was one of only five players to average at least 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes (minimum 25 games), all while shooting above 53 percent for the third time in four seasons.

    He can beef up someone's bench and has already met with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.


    24. Anthony Morrow, SG, Unrestricted

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 5.5 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.5 steals

    Top 100 Ranking: 75

    Highlights came few and far between for Morrow in the 2016-17 season, which he split between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls. He had just 10 double-digit scoring efforts on the year and posted his worst-ever shooting percentages from the field (38.9) and perimeter (30.8).

    Those are troubling marks for a supposed sniping specialist, whose turnstile defense can keep him off the floor. But with the fifth-highest career three-point percentage among active players (41.7), his stroke may still interest shoppers in dire need of shooting.


    23. Jason Terry, SG, Unrestricted

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 4.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 74

    Terry's 40th birthday is looming in September, but The Jet is hoping to take flight for what would be his 19th NBA season. His preference would be another go-round with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times.

    Terry's scoring average hit a new career low last season, but he provided the Bucks with leadership and floor spacing. His 42.7 three-point percentage trailed only Khris Middleton's 43.3 percent success rate.


    22. Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, Unrestricted

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 4.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 73

    Four forgettable efforts in five NBA seasons leave Motiejunas struggling to generate interest, but his 2014-15 campaign could make him worth a flier. The 7-footer pumped in 12.0 points and 5.9 rebounds a night that year while hitting 50.4 percent of his field goals and 36.8 percent of his threes. That version was a walking mismatch with an intriguing mix of perimeter and low-post scoring skills.

    But the 26-year-old has had two back surgeries and struggled with both quantity and quality. He's only played 71 games over the last two seasons while shooting just 42.9 percent overall and 26.0 from distance.


    21. Terrence Jones, PF, Unrestricted

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 10.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.0 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 70

    The idea of Jones is wildly intriguing. He's a long, athletic 6'9" forward with a wide-reaching skill set.

    The reality of Jones is much less impressive. He's a sub-30 percent three-point shooter for his career and was waived by two different clubs last season. But a 25-year-old with enticing physical tools will always appeal to someone.

20. Ty Lawson, PG, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 9.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 69

    After an atrocious 2015-16 season, Lawson quietly bounced back with the Sacramento Kings this past year. Although his outside shot never came around (28.8 percent), he still provided an offensive spark with blazing speed and reliable ball control (2.59 assists per turnover, tied for 25th).

    Finishing is an issue for Lawson both off the dribble and inside the paint, but any backup floor general is going to come with flaws.

19. Deron Williams, PG, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 67

    NBA Finals disappearing act aside, Deron Williams brought value to the Cleveland Cavaliers bench after his midseason move to Northeast Ohio. Over 24 regular-season games, he posted some of the best shooting rates of his career (46.3 percent overall, 41.5 from three) and more than doubled his turnovers (1.7) with assists (3.6).

    The 33-year-old has lost a step to Father Time, but he's still slippery off the bounce and strong around the basket. Defense is a challenge, but suitors won't target him with that end of the floor in mind.

18. Willie Reed, C, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 5.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 66

    After drafting Bam Adebayo and signing Kelly Olynyk, the Miami Heat are likely out of the Willie Reed sweepstakes. The moves alone put the writing on the wall, and team president Pat Riley admitted as much, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

    But that leaves five other clubs on the list of suitors which NBA.com's David Aldridge recently supplied.

    Reed only has two big-league seasons under his belt and is already 27 years old. But he was a steady presence on the Heat's second team and opened some eyes during five spot starts with 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. 

17. Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 13.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 65

    Ersan Ilyasova doesn't wear many different hats on the hardwood. He's a hair-above-average scorer and shooter, a sporadically successful rebounder and the Association's reigning leader in charges drawn.

    Ilyasova does wear a bunch of different jerseys, though. He has suited up for five different teams in the last two seasons alone and was traded four times between February 2016 and February 2017.

    He's not good enough to be deemed a keeper, but he's skilled enough to attract shooting-hungry shoppers. His signing could look more exciting in hindsight than it does initially if he times his scoring outbursts right (13 outings with 20-plus points last season).

16. JaVale McGee, C, Unrestricted

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.9 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 64

    Despite JaVale McGee attracting outside interest and the Warriors roster being down to one vacancy, they still hope to keep their vertical spacer around.

    "I would love to have JaVale back," head coach Steve Kerr told Bay Area News Group's Anthony Slater. "We all want him back. But we'll see how all that goes. He's a free agent, he's exploring his options."

    McGee emerged as an unlikely wrecking ball in Golden State, seizing small-minute allotments with maximum energy and elite explosiveness. It's fair to question whether he'd have the same impact elsewhere—he had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal last summer—but it's hard to ignore the 23.0 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes he averaged with the Warriors in 2016-17.

15. Tony Allen, SG, Unrestricted

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 63

    Judging by Tony Allen's recent work, perhaps defensive dynamos aren't bound to the same laws of aging as everyone else. Despite turning 35 midway through last season, he still secured All-Defensive second-team honors and finished second at his position with a 2.15 defensive real plus-minus.

    That may not be enough to keep him with the Memphis Grizzlies, though. As they get younger in free agency, he erased them from his Twitter bio.

    There have been talks of a sign-and-trade with the Clippers—which would reunite Allen with his former coach, Doc Rivers—according to NBA.com's David Aldridge. They could use a perimeter stopper with Chris Paul gone and new small forward Danilo Gallinari not having the fleetest feet. 

14. Ian Clark, PG/SG, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 6.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 61

    Thanks to the development of Patrick McCaw and signing of Nick Young, Ian Clark needs a new home. He could be closer to finding it, as Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times reported there is mutual interest between the 6'3" scoring guard and the Milwaukee Bucks.

    There's an obvious need for shooting in Milwaukee. Despite finishing last season with the 10th-highest three-point percentage (37.0), the Bucks were tied for 21st in makes (8.8). Clark buried 1.9 triples per 36 minutes, a mark only surpassed by three players on Milwaukee, two of whom had worse accuracy rates than Clark's 37.4 percent. 

13. Andrew Bogut, C, Unrestricted

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 2.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.9 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 60

    Andrew Bogut has been a repeat victim of tough-luck injuries, and this past season was no exception. He broke his leg less than a minute into his Cleveland Cavaliers debut, giving him four campaigns in which he's failed to reach 40 games.

    But the 32-year-old says a "handful of teams" have shown interest, per Fox Sports News, and he anticipates fetching a new contract in the near future.

    He's slowed down over the years, but his size and instincts could allow him to function as a serviceable defensive anchor. He has a painful reluctance to shoot—with single-digit field-goal attempts per 36 minutes over each of the past five seasons—but he chips in on offense with passing and rebounding.

12. Alex Len, C, Restricted

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 8.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.3 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 57

    The Phoenix Suns entered this summer with two restricted-free-agent big men. They just worked out a deal with one—and it was the formerly undrafted Alan Williams, not former No. 5 pick Alex Len.

    While Phoenix retained Williams on a three-year, $17 million deal, per The Vertical's Shams Charania, Len continues to wait for the market to turn his direction. He can probably blame a combination of his restricted status and him falling well shy of expectations.

    This past season was Len's first with an average player efficiency rating, which he hit right on the nose with a 15.0. He also graded out 58th among 66 centers with a minus-2.34 real plus-minus. His stats might not look quite as bad had he been drafted lower, but he has yet to distinguish himself on either end of the floor.

11. Derrick Rose, PG, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 56

    There's no such thing as turning back the clock for Derrick Rose. With multiple devastating injuries and subsequent surgical procedures separating his present from his MVP past, he must be analyzed in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately vacuum.

    The cold truth is he might not have done enough to land a starting gig. We didn't value him as a top-50 free agent, and real plus-minus didn't see him as a top-50 point guard last season (minus-2.25, 51st).

    It's not all doom-and-gloom, though. His scoring average, PER (17.0) and true shooting percentage (53.0) all reached their highest levels since 2011-12. He's been in contact with both the Bucks and New York Knicks, per ESPN.com's Ian Begley, although Ron Baker's new deal has sliced New York's remaining cap room to less than $1.5 million, Begley noted.

10. Luc Mbah a Moute, SF, Unrestricted

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 51

    Either the league is skeptical of Luc Mbah a Moute's shooting rates, or he's asking for too much money after declining a $2.3 million player option. Something is holding up the signing of a player who last season looked like an asset in the modern game.

    The Clippers fared 10.7 points better per 100 possessions with him than without, and while the talent around him helped, so did his two-way play. He didn't take a ton of threes (1.4 per game), but he made a high enough percentage (39.1) not to spoil the spacing. And his defense was stout as always—he finished with a 2.32 defensive real plus-minus (ninth among power forwards), while opponents shot 3.4 percent worse against him than their average.

    If his shooting holds up, he's a bona fide three-and-D forward who can play and defend multiple positions. Given the high priority placed on versatility right now, it's tough to tell why he hasn't spawned more chatter. 

9. Marreese Speights, PF/C, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.5 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 50

    Last season will be remembered as the year Mo Buckets became Mo Triples. Over 50 percent of Marreese Speights' field-goal attempts were from beyond the arc, and he splashed 1.3 long-range looks a night at a 37.2-percent clip.

    He doesn't do enough defensively to fill more than a reserve role, but he's one of the league's most unique spark plugs. He can be the typical combustible scorer (13 outings with 15-plus points), and he has also corralled double-digit rebounds per 36 minutes each of the past two seasons.

    If there's enough defensive help around him, he intrigues as a stretch center. Among players 6'10" or taller, he was a top-20 performer in threes (103, 14th) and points per 36 minutes (19.9, tied for 15th).

8. Nikola Mirotic, PF, Restricted

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 44

    Armed with all the leverage restricted free agency affords, the Bulls seem content to play the waiting game with Nikola Mirotic. They surely have a price point they're comfortable with, and the market isn't yet rushing to pry him loose. The particulars of a resolution are anyone's guess, but the two sides will likely reach one at some point.

    "We want Niko back, and we think Niko wants to be in Chicago," general manager Gar Forman told reporters. "When you have those two things at the end of the day, there's usually a way to get something done."

    Mirotic has had three consecutive up-and-down campaigns in the Windy City, and his streaks—good and bad—can carry on for months. But he can be a fiery shooter outside (41.3 percent after the All-Star break), and he has more offensive versatility than he's been allowed to show.

7. Manu Ginobili, SG, Unrestricted

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 39

    There's still no indication whether Manu Ginobili will grace the San Antonio Spurs—and the hoops world at large—with what would be his 16th NBA season. But there are undoubtedly a lot of crossed fingers in the Alamo City hoping to sway the vote.

    The super-sub set personal worsts in points and field-goal percentage (39.0) this past season, but he knocked down 1.3 threes a night and bettered his career perimeter shooting rate with a 39.2 percent mark. He also chipped in across the board with per-36-minute averages of 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds. For reference, only 13 players had an actual 14/5/4 line.

    Age has slowed him down, but it's done nothing to temper his competitive spirit.

6. Jonathon Simmons, SG, Restricted

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 6.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 38

    Standing out wasn't a problem for Jonathon Simmons in the regular season. He delivered his two biggest scoring efforts against Golden State (20 in October, 22 in the Western Conference Finals) and routinely unleashed the type of rim-rockers seldom associated with the silver and black.

    But the 6'6" swingman has been just another face in the free-agency crowd. Being restricted isn't helping, but precipitous falls in field-goal (50.4 to 42.0) and three-point (38.3 to 29.4) shooting could be more damaging.

    He's an elite athlete and can be a relentless defender, but he's also a 27-year-old unfinished product. He needs to find the right situation, and a better one may not exist outside of San Antonio.

5. David Lee, PF, Unrestricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 35

    Free agency came at a decent time for David Lee, at least as far as it can for a late-career reserve. His first season with the Spurs saw him post his second-highest true shooting percentage (61.3) and play the most games he had in five years (79).

    Although not a bruiser underneath, there's a throwback style to his game. He's a crafty finisher around the basket, an active glass-cleaner and a capable passer. But he lacks coveted contemporary talents like defensive versatility and shooting range.

    He's reportedly drawing interest from multiple teams, according to ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright. San Antonio could be an option even after signing Joffrey Lauvergenewhich The Vertical's Shams Charania reportedgiven Dedmon's departure.

4. Mason Plumlee, C, Restricted

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.1 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 26

    Five months ago, the Denver Nuggets sacrificed Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick to add Mason Plumlee. Only they know whether they're feeling buyer's remorse, but one would think their valuation of him has dropped since.

    Denver's frontcourt is crowded after the free-agent addition of Paul Millsap, which could make Plumlee a target for outside suitors. His market, however, has been quiet enough that it's easy to envision him in a fourth or fifth big-man role with the Nuggets next season and being paid accordingly.

    He's a top-shelf passing center but not a spacer or rim-protector. Despite making 146 starts over the past two seasons, he seems headed to the second team in or out of Denver. 

3. Pau Gasol, PF/C, Unrestricted

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.1 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 23

    Pau Gasol had $16.2 million reasons to pick up his player option, but he declined it to get a longer deal and increase the Spurs' spending power.

    Even though San Antonio failed to find a big fish, the re-sign-Gasol portion of the plan hasn't changed. The 37-year-old is "expected to return...on a more team-friendly deal," according to ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright.

    Gasol moves at a glacial pace now, which makes him tricky to play against small-ball lineups. But he thinks the game faster than most play it, and his Hall of Fame-bound offensive skill set seamlessly expanded to include a 53.8 percent three-point stroke last season. 

2. JaMychal Green, PF/C, Restricted

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 19

    If the Grizzlies want to keep JaMychal Green—and they should—they aren't making it easy on themselves. ESPN's Bobby Marks noted Memphis is hard-capped after the signings of Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans, so a high-dollar offer to Green could pry him loose.

    But will that offer ever come? As Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal saw it, the Bulls, Hawks and Brooklyn Nets appeared to be Green's three most realistic outside suitors. But Chicago could pay Mirotic instead, Atlanta just fortified its frontcourt with Dedmon and Brooklyn might target someone younger than the 27-year-old Green.

    Despite all of that, it's hard to believe Green is still out there. He has athleticism, the ability to defend multiple positions and he shot 37.9 percent from three-point range last season. Add impressive activity on the glass, and he's had success in all areas where players at his position should. 

1. Nerlens Noel, PF/C, Restricted

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    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 8.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks

    Top 100 Ranking: 14

    This is the biggest who-blinks-first situation left in free agency. The Dallas Mavericks have offered Nerlens Noel something in the vicinity of an $18-20 million annual salary, per Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, but he continues searching for a higher offer.

    As it stands, the two sides are said to be "not close" to an agreement, according to SB Nation's Tim Cato.

    Noel's market is tough to gauge, especially with teams being potentially leery of the Mavs' right to match any offer. The Hawks reportedly had interest at one time, per HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy, but that door could have closed with Dedmon's arrival. 

    Maybe Noel's patience nets him extra money. He is, after all, a 23-year-old with a sky-high ceiling on defense and untapped offensive potential. But the Mavs shouldn't make a move until they have to. There are few teams who could even afford to enter the running, and Noel's injury history might stop them from doing so.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basketball ReferenceNBA.com or ESPN.com.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachBuckleyNBA.