June 5, 2012
By: Lia Crawford
With free agency beginning in a little over a month, NBA fans with teams not in the postseason have turned their interest to a long list of free agents. NBA teams will be looking for key players to be the final addition to their teams. The restricted and unrestricted free agent list, filled with some well-known veterans and talented rookies, all are waiting to see where the free agency lands them. Here’s a breakdown of this summer’s top ten restricted and unrestricted free agents.
1. Deron Williams: Most recently a point guard for the (now) Brooklyn Nets, Williams is the most talented player in this summer’s free agency pool. William’s range, ability to facilitate to big men and his offensive drive make him desirable to many teams, especially a team with a strong big man by his side.
2. Kevin Garnett: One of the big three of the Boston Celtics, Garnett could potentially be playing with the Celtics for the last time this season. As he ages, his skills during the season as well as the playoffs have shown that he still has unbelievable talent. He remains an excellent center and defender who is still hungry for NBA titles.
3. Ersan Ilyasova: With many NBA teams looking for a reliable and talented big man, Ilyasova is a young Turkish player that fits the criteria. His rebounding and backcourt defensive skills make him a consistent center for the Milwaukee Bucks.
4. Steve Nash: Though Nash is 38 years old his talent still remains impressive. Nash led the NBA in assists for a large part of the season and is a selfless point guard who nearly brought the Phoenix Suns to the playoffs single-handedly. Nash still has a few more years left in him to make a big impact on a team.
5. Ray Allen: The bone spurts in Allen’s ankles are believed to be the cause of his difference in shooting in the post season, but regardless Allen’s shooting talent can be matched by few. His touch from behind the arc makes him another highly talented free agency candidate.
6. Gerald Wallace: Wallace can be an offensive threat, but he has shown scoring inconsistency in the past. However he is still able to put up numbers and his All Star past makes him a popular name in this year’s free agency.
7. Goran Dragic: The young point guard earned himself a starting spot after playing back up to Kyle Lowry when Lowry was injured. In his time as a starter, Dragic averaged 18 PPG and kept his starting spot even after Lowry returned to the Rockets.
8. Jason Terry: The former NBA title earner brings a strong confidence as well as shooting ability to the table for NBA teams. Terry has shown that he is still a very clutch player when he’s needed in the fourth quarter.
9. Chris Kaman: Kaman was a long-time big man for the LA Clippers but was traded to the New Orleans Hornets in the Chris Paul deal and suffered an injury while in New Orleans. He still, however, averaged 13.1 PPG and his resume as a dependable center makes him another large name in the free agency.
10. Tim Duncan: Though many believe that it’s Tim Duncan’s time to retire, his post-season play says otherwise. Duncan’s veteran experience could make him a good asset to a team, and a short-term contract could provide a team with a solid big man for a few more years. It’s likely that the contract that he signs this summer will be his last, but as a four time title earner Duncan still has a large desire to win.
1. Roy Hibbert: Hibbert’s season with the Indiana Pacers led him to the NBA All-Star game and his game in the post-season was impressive. His defensive ability as well as his impact in games has made him the top restricted name in the free agency.
2. Eric Gordon: Injuries have led Gordon to miss many games in his last three years on the LA Clippers, but a small seven game comeback in the Clipper’s hopeless season showed a glimpse of his previous 22.3 PPG average. Gordon could be a good asset to a team who needs a go-to scorer.
3. Brook Lopez: Lopez also faced an injury prone season with the (now) Brooklyn Nets, but still remains a threat down low. After the Nets openly spoke about trading Lopez for Dwight Howard during the season, Lopez is predicted to become a part of the Orlando Magic in a potential Dwight Howard deal.
4. Nicolas Batum: Batum is a very athletic player who reached career highs in scoring, rebounding, and 3-point shooting this season. After failing to reach a contract extension with the Portland Trailblazers, Batum could be a shooting asset to a new team next season.
5. Ryan Anderson: The NBA’s Most Improved Player this season has proved his talent with his offensive ability and hand-in-hand success with Dwight Howard. Though it is hard to see why the Orlando Magic would decide to trade Anderson, other teams would be happy for his addition.
6. JaVale McGee: Though McGee has been described as being “hard to coach”; his on court talent and athleticism make him a top free agent this summer. His past choices off the court however make him a risky choice for some NBA teams.
7. O.J. Mayo: After being picked high in the NBA draft, Mayo’s game has been cast to the side by the Memphis Grizzlies. His above-average guard talent still remains, however, and his stroke will be welcomed to another team.
8. Courtney Lee: Lee’s skills could not be properly displayed in his time as a Houston Rocket with the many talented players in his position. He knows his role and as a starter late in the season he averaged 14 PPG and shot 40% from three-point range. His skills will be seen better on a new team next year.
9. Jeremy Lin: After much talk about Linsanity and Jeremy Lin this season, his name will be on top of everyone’s lists during free agency. Lin showed his unbelievable scoring ability for a couple of months early in the season and it has kept him on the radar, though it was a short time.
10. George Hill: In the post season as well as the regular season, Hill proved himself as a reliable player with the Indiana Pacers as a combo guard. Late in the season he earned a starting spot over Darren Collison and had a steady post season. Hill is likely to be playing with the Indiana Pacers next season.