Updated Rankings for Top Available 2020 NBA Free Agents

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2020

Updated Rankings for Top Available 2020 NBA Free Agents

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The last few days have been a whirlwind for the NBA.

    Free agency tipped off on Friday, and over the next 48-72 hours, nearly 100 players came to terms on new deals with various teams.

    With the transactional period of the offseason essentially condensed into one month, organizations had to act swiftly to put their rosters together for 2020-21, and that's exactly what happened this past weekend.

    Some of the bigger moves included:

    • The Charlotte Hornets signing Gordon Hayward away from the Boston Celtics for four years and $120 million;
    • The Toronto Raptors re-signing Fred VanVleet for four years and $85 million;
    • The Atlanta Hawks landing Danilo Gallinari for three years and $61.5 million and potentially Bogdan Bogdanovic (if the Sacramento Kings don't match the four-year, $72 million offer to their restricted free agent);
    • Sharpshooters Joe Harris and Davis Bertans signing for $75 and $80 million, respectively;
    • Montrezl Harrell switching Los Angeles teams from the Clippers to the Lakers;
    • The Detroit Pistons spending nearly $100 million on the Denver Nuggets' reserve bigs; and
    • The Houston Rockets signing a modern center in Christian Wood.

    For a running tab on all the action, go here.To know who the best available players are, scroll below.

    But first, a word on how those players were selected.

    Predicting the future is next to impossible, but recent numbers give us some indication of how players will perform next season.

    Age is a factor as well. If two players with similar size, stats and skill sets hit the market and one is five years younger than the other, he may have an edge (unless a specific team is looking for experience).

    Versatility is also key. As the NBA continues to lean into positionless basketball, players who can guard multiple positions, hit threes and create a little have gained value. The league still has specialists, but a well-rounded base of skills is becoming increasingly important.

Anthony Davis

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Few free-agency classes across history featured as obvious a No. 1 as 2020's Anthony Davis.   

    Just now on the verge of his prime, Davis is a 27-year-old big with almost no discernible weaknesses. He can defend all over the floor, clean the glass and carry an offense from the post or the extended mid-range. Over the last two seasons, he's even shown burgeoning playmaking and three-point shooting.

    As he continues to grow, Davis has a chance to become the best player in the NBA during the life of his next NBA contract, which will almost certainly be with the Los Angeles Lakers.

    "Davis plans to opt out of his $28.7 million player option and re-sign with the Lakers," Shams Charania wrote for The Athletic. "Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, will hold meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the situation and the contract term that is most sensible for Davis."

    Considering the fact that AD will have 10 years of service in two seasons, a deal that allows him to reenter free agency in 2022 makes the most sense. Then, he'll have access to the 35-percent-of-the-cap max deal that decade-long veterans can sign.

Brandon Ingram

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    After three seasons of flashes from Brandon Ingram, it all came together in year four. His length, playmaking ability and jump shooting coalesced toward 23.8 points, 4.2 assists and 2.4 threes in his first run with the New Orleans Pelicans.   

    And that breakout just happened to occur in the last season of Ingram's rookie contract, making him the most coveted restricted free agent in the 2020 class.

    Prying him away from the Pelicans will likely be difficult, no matter how badly suitors want him. New Orleans can match any offer sheet he signs, and a long-term top two of Ingram and Zion Williamson is on the track to perennial playoff appearances.

    They didn't play much together this season, due to Williamson's delayed debut, but teams had a whale of a time containing them when they did.

    In the 901 possessions in which the two young stars shared the floor, the Pelicans were plus-9.9 points per 100 possessions (95th percentile). Add fellow youngster Lonzo Ball to that mix and the net rating climbs to plus-13.1 (98th percentile).

    With Ingram scoring from the perimeter, Williamson dominating inside and Ball engineering possessions and leading charges in transition, this trio has a chance to be one of the league's best in the near future. Regardless of the price tag, New Orleans will be hesitant to forfeit that future.

Hassan Whiteside

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Playing with Damian Lillard has its perks, as Hassan Whiteside should now be able to attest.   

    In 2019-20, he posted career bests in true shooting percentage, offensive box plus/minus and individual offensive rating

    His basic numbers leap off the screen, too: 18.5 points, 16.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per 75 possessions.

    Most importantly, the Portland Trail Blazers were better (a lot better, actually) when Whiteside was on the floor. He bought into a role that called for less usage than he got in the past, but he still defended with the effort and intensity needed to be a clear plus on that end.

    Gone were the days of block-chasing and occasionally moping up and down the floor. In Portland, Whiteside was a legitimate defensive anchor and rim-rolling weapon.

    If he can maintain the kind of focus he had in 2019-20, he should help whichever team signs him this offseason.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson posted a career low in minutes per game, but he may have rehabbed his value a bit in his lone season with the Toronto Raptors.

    The 6'6", multipositional forward showed a greater willingness to defend and averaged more assists per possession than he ever has before.

    For someone who isn't likely to be called on to do a lot of scoring for his next team, those team-first attributes will be key in finding a consistent role and minutes.

Shaquille Harrison

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Shaquille Harrison only has three seasons and 139 games of NBA experience, but he's already 27 years old. That limits his upside a bit.

    But over the course of his brief career, he's proved himself a solid perimeter defender, with the potential to be stellar on that end.

    Over the course of his career, he's tied for 23rd (and 10th among non-bigs) in the league in defensive box plus/minus.

    And his averages of 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.3 steals and 0.9 blocks per 75 possessions are unmatched by anyone in that stretch.

Kyle O'Quinn

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Kyle O'Quinn has spent much of his career as a third-string center who's struggled to find consistent minutes. He's generally productive when he makes it onto the floor, though.

    Over the last three seasons, he's recorded a 2.6 box plus/minus and averages of 14.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.6 blocks per 75 possessions.

    There's always the worry that numbers like that won't translate to a bigger role, but there's more than enough there to suggest O'Quinn can be a contributor.

    His passing is especially intriguing. With a big who can find the open man, guards and wings get more catch-and-shoot opportunities that can boost the team's efficiency.

Noah Vonleh

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Noah Vonleh has been in the league for six seasons and has yet to post a single above-average campaign, according to box plus/minus.

    Still, he's only 25 years old and 6'10". He has career averages of 0.9 blocks and 0.9 steals per 75 possessions to go along with a tease of stretch-big ability in 2018-19.

    As your 11th or 12th man on a minimum contract, he's worth a flier.

Reggie Jackson

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Reggie Jackson has had a fairly significant injury history over the last four seasons, but he had a resurgence as a reserve for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

    In 17 regular-season games, he averaged 9.5 points in 21.3 minutes and shot 41.3 percent from three. He stayed hot in the playoffs too, when he went 17-of-32 (53.1 percent) from deep.

    He'll likely never regain his 2015-16 form, but that run with the Clippers should sell a team on his ability to contribute off the bench.

Emmanuel Mudiay

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Emmanuel Mudiay had a much smaller role in 2019-20 than he's had in years past, but he also posted career highs in true shooting percentage and box plus/minus.

    Under Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, Mudiay learned to work within a system, and that should serve him well. He seems to have a better handle on when to deviate from the scheme and utilize his ability to get to the paint.

    It's also worth noting that Mudiay is still only 24 years old. He has a few years of development left, and he showed a willingness to learn and adapt in 2019-20.

Frank Kaminsky

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    He may never live up to his top-10 draft status or the fact that the Charlotte Hornets turned down multiple draft picks for him, but there's still reason to believe Frank Kaminsky can be a positive contributor for some team's second unit.

    He's a legit 7-footer who can theoretically hit threes (though he's only posted an above-average three-point percentage twice).

    And though he'll be never confused for a defensive anchor, his sheer size helps him at least take up space inside. His teams have allowed fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor in each of his last two seasons.


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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Kyle Korver

    Kyle Korver has had a long, productive (particularly from three-point range) career, but he turns 40 in March. He played 16.6 minutes per game in 2019-20, but the Milwaukee Bucks were significantly worse with him on the floor.

    At this point in his career, he's a "break in case of emergency" shooter, but he'll surely knock down threes when called upon. Even in his advanced years, he's shot 41.7 percent from three since the start of the 2017-18 campaign.


    Shabazz Napier

    Shabazz Napier quietly had his first season with a double-digit scoring average in 2019-20. He was also tied for 29th in the league in assists per 75 possessions.

    The key for Napier is consistency from beyond the arc. Last season, he was well below average, but he has it in him to be better. Over the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, the 29-year-old guard shot 37.4 percent from deep.


    Dion Waiters

    It's been an interesting recent stretch for Dion Waiters. Since the start of the 2016-17 campaign (four seasons), he's averaged 32.5 appearances per season because of injuries and suspension. In 2019-20, he appeared in just 10 games.

    When he does play, it's fair to wonder if his shoot-first game contributes at all toward winning.

    Still, Waiters is on the right side of 30 (he turns 29 in December) and has shown flashes of the kind of scoring ability that might help some benches. He might be worth another flier, assuming it's a veteran minimum.


    Frank Jackson

    This is another nod to potential. The advanced numbers on the first two seasons of Frank Jackson's career were frankly terrible, but he's only 22 years old.

    If he can rediscover the shooting ability that helped make him a prized recruit for Duke and later got him drafted, he can be a helpful end-of-the-bench guy.

    On a minimum contract, he's worth a flier.


    Glenn Robinson III

    In his sixth NBA season, Glenn Robinson III had something of a breakout for the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers.

    He averaged 11.7 points (his previous career high was 6.1) and 1.2 threes while shooting 39.1 percent from the beyond the arc.

    Statistically, he didn't provide much beyond that. And he's not an elite perimeter defender. But in today's NBA, shooting can be enough to get on the floor.


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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Skal Labissiere

    Skal Labissiere has the kind of size and athleticism that helps a player stick around the NBA for a while even without gaudy numbers. What could make him a rotation player is outside shooting.

    He hasn't attempted many threes in his career, but he's 30-of-85 (35.3 percent) from out there. If he develops that a bit and makes it a bigger part of his offensive diet, he'll give himself more staying power as a stretch big.


    Courtney Lee

    Courtney Lee may now be in the phase of his career that many veterans eventually reach. He isn't likely to log many minutes, but his experience could be valuable from a chemistry standpoint.

    And when he does get on the floor, he should still be able to provide a little spacing. For his career, he's a 38.8 percent shooter from deep. Last season, he was 21-of-47 (44.7 percent).


    Yogi Ferrell

    Yogi Ferrell's playing time and three-point percentage have both gone down in each of the last three seasons, but the promise of his first two campaigns isn't that far in the past.

    In 2016-17 and 2017-18, he averaged 10.2 points and shot 37.8 percent from three. Someone could sign the 27-year-old to be a third-string point guard in the hopes that version is still in there.


    John Henson

    Believe it or not, John Henson is still on the right side of 30. Athletically, he should have some prime years left. And at nearly a decade of NBA service, he can provide veteran leadership and experience.

    Sprinkled throughout his career are encouraging signs, including 2.0 blocks in 18.3 minutes per game in 2014-15 and a 35.5 three-point percentage in 2018-19 (on just 31 attempts, but still).


    Nicolas Batum

    Nicolas Batum's production fell off a cliff in 2019-20, but that could just have easily been a product of situation as a decline in talent.

    The Charlotte Hornets were clearly turning the reins over to younger players last season, so Batum was relegated to only 22 appearances and 3.7 field-goal attempts per game. He'll turn 32 in December, but he should have a little left in the tank, especially with his body being spared much of a role in 2019-20.

    For a team in need of some wing depth, it couldn't hurt to bring him in on a veteran-minimum deal.


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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Taj Gibson

    Despite starting 56 of his 62 games with the New York Knicks last season, Taj Gibson played only 16.5 minutes per game. At his age (35), that amount of playing time makes sense. He just shouldn't have had those minutes against starters.

    If a team wants him to play somewhere around 15-20 minutes per game off the bench, he can still provide some value as a rebounder and defender against backups.


    Jared Dudley

    Jared Dudley is probably done with roles bigger than the one he had for the champion Los Angeles Lakers last season (8.1 minutes per game over 45 appearances), but he can still bring value to a roster as a veteran leader.

    He'll likely hit a few threes in a pinch too. In 2019-20, he was 18-of-42 from three (42.9 percent), bringing his career percentage up to 39.3. He's top-100 all-time in both career three-point percentage and career true shooting percentage.


    Gary Payton II

    Despite the fact that he turns 28 in December and technically has four seasons of NBA experience, Gary Payton II has yet to crack the 1,000-minute threshold for his career.

    A limited offensive game has made it difficult for coaches to put him on the floor, but his defense has helped him stay on the fringes of the league. In fact, it even earned him 17 starts for the Washington Wizards last season.

    If a team is desperate for perimeter defense, he might be worth a minimum deal.


    Wilson Chandler

    Wilson Chandler is nearing the end of his NBA career, but he can still bring a little veteran savvy and an occasional three to some team's second unit.

    In theory, he can defend multiple positions as well. At this point, he can probably only do it effectively against reserves, though.


    Marco Belinelli

    The last couple of years with the San Antonio Spurs haven't done much to boost Marco Belinelli's individual value. He's also 34 years old, so any contract he signs this season may be close to his last.

    He has hit 37.5 percent of his threes over the last three seasons, though. Even with the defensive limitations, he could be a boost to a second unit as a ninth or 10th man.