NBA Free Agents 2011: Ranking the Top 10 Free Agents

Will HofmannContributor IINovember 28, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: Ranking the Top 10 Free Agents

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    The NBA free-agent signing period begins Friday, December 9th. Even though it will not have the same hoopla as last year's crazy offseason, it should still be exciting to see where the top free agents end up.

    Teams look for many different pieces to their respective puzzles in free agency. Some will be looking for hard-nosed defenders, while others will seek scorers or big men. Some will prefer younger players with more potential, while other teams will value veterans with experience.

    Here is a list of the top 10 free agents on the market starting December 9th.

10. Grant Hill

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    Grant Hill is one of the NBA's smoothest players. Despite his age, he turned 39 in October, Hill has continued to be productive. Last season he averaged 13.2 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, 4.3 assists per game and 1.1 steals per game.

    Hill is far from his prime but is still an effective player. He has been able to avoid injury, only missing a total of three games in the past three seasons. In addition, Hill relies less on his athleticism than veterans like Jason Richardson. This has allowed him a more gradual aging process.

    It would be logical for Hill to take a small pay cut to play for a true contender, and there would be plenty of teams willing to add a capable veteran such as Hill.

9. J.R. Smith

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    Smith being on this list is contingent on his agent finding a way to finagle out of his contract in China. 

    If he makes his way back to the NBA this season he will continue to fill ESPN's Top 10 with electrifying dunks as well as defending hard and shooting often from deep.

    Smith is a very entertaining player and would be much higher on this list if he had fewer off-court issues. 

8. Glen Davis

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    Although Davis didn't crack the starting lineup during his time with the Boston Celtics, he greatly supplemented their frontcourt defense the past few years.

    Davis is a big body, 6'9" and 289, that could fill many teams that are lacking a strong front line. He rebounds well and plays with a lot of energy. 

    The Celtics would love to bring back this fan favorite, but as an unrestricted free agent he will have many offers coming his way.

7. Thaddeus Young

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    Thaddeus Young is an athletic, efficient player that has tons of potential. Last season Young averaged 12.7 points per game on 54.1 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds per game.

    At 23 and going into his fifth season in the league, Young has a unique combination of potential and experience that teams will find valuable.

    A good friend of mine once described Young as "a poor man's LeBron James." I think it is obvious that he would be the poorest man's LeBron at best, but the kid has a lot of potential and could be a great role player for any team.

6. Wilson Chandler

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    Once again, Chandler may not even be available to NBA teams, as he signed a binding contract in China.

    However, if he is available, he will be highly courted and will most likely receive a gigantic contract. Last season Chandler, age 24, averaged 15.3 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game and 1.3 blocks per game. His natural ability to play on the perimeter and in the paint, both offensively and defensively, would be a great asset for any team in the league.

    Sources say that Chandler would be interested in returning to the New York Knicks. This may be tough to accomplish as the Nuggets will be able to match any offers to Chandler.

    The bottom line is that Chandler will likely play out his contract in China. If he does not, he will be in for quite the payday no matter where he signs.

5. Marc Gasol

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    The younger Gasol brother was a force in the paint during the Grizzlies' unexpected playoff run last season. 

    Marc is a rare free agent because: He is young (26), big and strong (7'1" and 265 lbs) and effective (11.7 points per game, seven rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per game). Any team looking for a true center will have to take a serious look at Gasol.

    The Knicks were rumored to have interest last season and will likely send an offer out to the Spanish big man.

    It seems unlikely that the Grizzlies will let Gasol, a restricted free agent, go easily. He showed last season that he could complement Zach Randolph very well.

    This young big man could have a change of scenery come December, but it is much more likely that he'll be back in Memphis controlling the interior with Randolph. 

4. David West

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    David West, a 31-year-old two-time All-Star, is one of the biggest names in this year's free-agent batch.

    West, an established player in the NBA, has averaged over 17 points per game and seven rebounds per game for the past six seasons for the New Orleans Hornets.

    West's final destination will have implications for the entire league. If he leaves it will add yet another reason for Chris Paul to skip town. Hornets fans will be praying to see the duo back racking up wins, but Knicks and Magic fans may be looking for a different outcome. No matter what happens, it should be an interesting process. 

3. DeAndre Jordan

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    DeAndre Jordan is not on this list because of anything except for athleticism and potential. At the same time, he is as high on the list as he is because of those attributes.

    Any team in the league would be lucky to pry this 26-year-old restricted free agent from the grasp of the Los Angeles Clippers. Jordan is a stout defender and he can jump out of the gym.

    Jordan made huge improvements on his game last season and could start for most teams in the NBA.

2. Tyson Chandler

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    Tyson Chandler gave his stock a great boost during the 2010 playoffs. His defense and overall hustle helped his Dallas Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat and win the NBA Finals.

    Chandler is young enough, 29 years old, and big enough, 7'1", to cash in a huge check. Last season he averaged 10.1 points per game, 9.4 rebounds per game and 1.1 blocks per game.

    Chandler had a great season in a contract year and will be pursued by many teams. The Mavericks will try to re-sign him, but it could be tough, given other contracts they must be attending to.

    Expect Chandlers suitors to include the: Mavericks, Heat, Celtics, Knicks and Hornets.

1. Nene Hilario

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    Nene is an established post player that is still young enough to have a handful of productive seasons left to come.

    The 6'11" center from Brazil is an unrestricted free agent and could end up anywhere in the league. Last season he averaged 14.5 points per game on 61.5 percent shooting, 7.6 rebounds per game and one block per game.

    He only missed an average of four games per season over the past three years, which is impressive for a physical post player.

    Given his tough style, Nene will have no problem signing a big contract and the team who signs him will be lucky to have this hard-nosed center.