NBA free agency: Ranking the top 25 players

·15-min read

The 2020 NBA free-agent class, like the 2020 NBA draft class, is light on stars, but has talent throughout. After you get past Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram, who are virtual locks to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans respectively, the class is deep with quality role players.

There are several quality wings available this offseason. They range from scorers to shooters to defense-first players. Up front, the market has a mix of young talent and wily veterans. The point guard position leaves a lot to be desired, beyond Fred VanVleet. Teams looking to upgrade at the lead guard spot will have to do so via trade.

This class of free agents is also going to offer some great value. With just four-to-six teams having cap space this offseason, it’s unlikely many players will sign massive, long-term contracts. Instead, using their Mid-Level Exception, teams should be able to get rotation players on relative bargains. Many of those players may sign short-term deals (one-year or two-years with a player option) in an attempt to cash in now, and then get back on the market next summer.

This year's NBA free-agent class is a mixed bag. (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)
This year's NBA free-agent class is a mixed bag. (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

Top free agents: Point guards | Shooting guards | Small forwards | Power forwards | Centers

1. Anthony Davis

Age: 27

After winning a title, Davis will opt out of the final year of his contract. Then, it’s just a question of how long Davis re-signs with Los Angeles for. If the cap is a concern, Davis could opt for a shorter contract and hit the market again when his max starting salary will push close to $40 million. If the max salary isn’t a concern, Davis will sign long-term this summer. He’s not going anywhere after spending half a year angling to get to Hollywood and winning the 2020 championship.

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Fits with: Lakers

2. Brandon Ingram (restricted)

Age: 23

Ingram and the Pelicans didn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension, but he’s likely to get a max deal in New Orleans anyway. Coming off his first All-Star appearance, Ingram has no reason to expect anything less. He’s an established wing scorer, an improving defender and an already solid rebounder and passer. The only question at this point seems to be if he’ll get a 3+1 deal from the Pelicans or a 4+1 deal. It’s hard to imagine New Orleans will even let it get to the point of him signing an offer sheet with another team.

Fits with: Pelicans

3. Fred VanVleet

Age: 26

VanVleet is the lone starting point guard that is expected to be available this summer. He’s got the ability to play on or off the ball, but is more of a true point guard than he is a shooting guard. In his first year as a full-time starter, VanVleet put together a career year for the Raptors. He averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game this season as part of career-highs nearly across the board. A handful of the teams with cap space need a starting point guard, meaning VanVleet is a lock to cash in this summer. If VanVleet is back in Toronto, it’s likely a sign they see him taking over at point guard when Kyle Lowry’s contract is up after next season.

Fits with: Raptors, Knicks, Pistons, Suns, Hawks

4. Gordon Hayward

Age: 30

For the first time since breaking his left leg on opening night in 2017, Hayward looked like he was back. Not just flashes of being back, but actually back. Did you know he pushed a 50/40/90 shooting season? Hayward finished at 17.5 points per game on 50/38/85 shooting splits. His defense and passing were back to his old standards as well. Health remains a concern, as Hayward missed most of the Celtics’ playoff run. Hayward reportedly decided to opt out on Thursday and decline his player option for $34.2 million. He’s been linked to the Atlanta Hawks as Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported earlier this week along with rumors that the New York Knicks could be interested.

Fits with: Celtics

5. Christian Wood

Age: 25

At first glance, you might say, “Who?” But Wood had a breakout year with the Detroit Pistons. His presence as a younger (and less expensive!) option is a big part of why Detroit was willing to trade Andre Drummond. In his first season as a full-time rotation player, Wood delivered big numbers, averaging 13.1 points per game on 56.7% shooting from the floor, while he grabbed 6.3 rebounds per game in just over 21 minutes a night. Wood also expanded his range to the arc, as he knocked down 38.6% on over two three-point attempts per contest. If that wasn’t enough, Wood dominated after Drummond was traded with a stat line of 22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and one block per game. He’ll be handsomely rewarded this summer, likely by the Pistons.

Fits with: Pistons, Knicks, Hornets, Suns, Hawks

6. Danilo Gallinari

Age: 31

Gallinari had another solid season in his first year in Oklahoma City. Did you know he averaged a career-high 13.2 field goal attempts per game? Gallinari has also aged well, as he had his fourth year out of his last five in the high-teens in points per game. Most importantly, Gallinari stayed healthy for the Thunder. Because of his ability to score and stretch the floor, he’ll be in demand as a free agent this offseason. If he goes to a contender, Gallinari probably heads there via sign and trade.

Fits with: Nets, Suns, Trail Blazers, Hawks

7. Jerami Grant

Age: 26

Grant’s excellent play in the bubble changed his free-agent fortunes quite a bit. Due to some Denver injuries, he started at small forward and more than held his own. Normally, Grant has come off the bench and brings great energy to the game. Grant is able to use his cutting, and better-than-you-think spot-up shooting, to play off the Nuggets’ talented passing centers. Because of his great play during the restart, Grant has a healthy market as a free agent and he decided to opt out.

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Fits with: Nuggets, Pistons, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Hawks, Knicks, Suns

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 03: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on March 03, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
If DeMar DeRozan opts out, he’s clearly the best available shooting guard. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

8. DeMar DeRozan (Opt in at $27.7 million)

Age: 31

DeRozan’s potential availability seems to change with each report. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported DeRozan would opt out without a contract extension. DeRozan refuted the report, but then several others indicated he’s been unhappy in San Antonio. If DeRozan opts out, he’s clearly the best available shooting guard. DeRozan shot a career-high 53.1% this season and averaged 22.1 points per game. DeRozan decided to opt in, and test free agency next summer.

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9. Bogdan Bogdanovic (restricted)

Age: 28

Bogdanovic made headlines earlier this week after reports of a proposed trade between Sacramento and Milwaukee was derailed due to the forward’s desire to enter restricted free agency. The Bucks were set to acquire Bogdanovic (via sign-and-trade) and Justin James from the Kings for Donte DiVincenzo, D.J, Wilson, and Ersan Ilyasova — hours after Milwaukee acquired Jrue Holiday from New Orleans.

Bogdanovic is a little older than most first-time free agents due to coming over several years after being drafted. He’s proven to be a solid scoring option as a starter or reserve for the Kings. Sacramento will reportedly match any offers Bogdanovic gets as a free agent. The Kings may be forced into that, as Bogdanovic is a great fit for any of the teams with cap space this offseason.

Fits with: Kings, Hawks, Hornets, Suns, Knicks, Pistons

10. Davis Bertans

Age: 28

Bertans slotting in this high is a bit of a surprise, until you look at how he shoots from deep. Bertans is a career 41% shooter from behind the arc, and this season ramped up his volume big time. He nearly doubled his previous career-high in three-point attempts at 8.7 per game this season for Washington. He’s also become a decent rebounder as well. With floor-spacing more important than ever, Bertans will get paid handsomely.

Fits with: Wizards, Celtics, Nets, Suns, Hawks, Knicks

11. Montrezl Harrell

Age: 26

Is Harrell a four or a five? Does it matter? He’s just awesome off the bench. Harrell is the exact type of player teams are looking for as a backup big man. He can hold his own at either position and brings a ton of energy when he hits the floor. Harrell won Sixth Man of the Year, after coming close in 2019. This is despite his range being measured in terms of inches vs. feet. Even without being able to shoot, Harrell fits in almost anywhere and he’s going to get paid for the first time in his career.

Fits with: Clippers, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Hawks, Pistons

12. Andre Drummond (Opt in at $28.7 million)

Age: 27

Drummond is young enough to fit with the Cavs’ young core, so it’ll be one more year of growing together. After that, Drummond will hit what should be a more stable and flush with cash, market in 2021.

Derrick Jones Jr. #5 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at American Airlines Arena.
Derrick Jones Jr. has become a rotation player for the Miami Heat. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

13. Derrick Jones Jr.

Age: 23

Jones Jr. has found a home in Miami. His all-out style of play fits perfectly with the Heat culture. He’s become a rotation player and put up career-high stats nearly across the board. Only Jones’ lack of a 3-point shot keeps him from being the kind of player who could garner $20 million a year as a free agent. The challenge for Jones is that Miami has big dreams for their cap space next summer. He could be back with the Heat on a big one-year deal, or he could get an offer elsewhere that offers more long-term security.

Fits with: Heat, Pistons, Knicks, Hawks, Mavericks

14. Joe Harris

Age: 29

Harris has become one of the NBA’s best shooters and did so while on a bargain contract. The Nets might not get such a nice hometown discount this time around. Brooklyn needs to keep Harris, as his ability to space the floor and play without the ball is needed in a lineup full of ball-dominant players. That ability also makes him attractive to any number of contenders, which means Sean Marks will likely have to pony up with a big offer this offseason.

Fits with: Nets, Lakers, Hornets, Clippers

15. Serge Ibaka

Age: 31

Ibaka put together quite the late-career season. He averaged a career-high 15.4 points per game, and grabbed the second-most rebounds per game of his career at 8.2. He also shot 38.5% from behind the arc. Ibaka is no longer the athletic force he once was (he had fewer than a block per game for the first time), but he’s still a solid backup big man option. If the Toronto Raptors make one more run at it with their current group, look for him to get a big one-year deal. If not, he’ll have plenty of options as a free agent.

Fits with: Raptors, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Celtics, Mavericks, Clippers

16. Tim Hardaway Jr. (Opt in at $18.9 million)

Age: 28

Hardaway has found a home in Dallas as kind of a designated shooter alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Hardaway reportedly decided to opt in on Thursday and hits the market next offseason.

17. Goran Dragic

Age: 34

For the first time since 2012, Dragic returned to a bench role, prior to opening games during the restart. The change rejuvenated him. He stayed healthy and his numbers are up across the board. Dragic is still a crafty scorer off the dribble and can knock down spot-up shots as well. Defensively, Dragic works well in a scheme where he can gamble for the occasional steal with bigs behind him to provide protection. With Miami having cap space this summer, but bigger hopes for the 2021 offseason, Dragic could cash in on a big one-year deal for what is likely his last big NBA payday.

Fits with: Heat, Hawks, Suns

18. Jae Crowder

Age: 29

Crowder’s team-friendly five-year, $35 million deal that he signed with Boston in 2015 is finally expiring. It’s just expiring four additional teams later. In part because of his easily moved contract, which complements his solid play, Crowder has been traded four times since the summer of 2017. In Miami, Crowder seems to have found the magic that made him a valuable player with the Celtics. He hit shots and defended at a high level once again. Someone will talk themselves into Crowder, but it’s unlikely to be Miami on a long-term deal. Not with the Heat’s cap space aspirations down the line.

Fits with: Hawks, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Wizards, Suns

Tristan Thompson #13 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at the Smoothie King Center.
Several contenders will lineup to add Tristan Thompson in free agency. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

19. Tristan Thompson

Age: 29

Thompson has had a kind of weird career. Right as he was figuring out his place in the NBA, LeBron James returned to Cleveland and the Cavs were title contenders. A few years later, James and Kyrie Irving were gone and Thompson was a luxury for a rebuilding team. Now, he’s finally a free agent. With Andre Drummond likely the Cavs center moving forward, and Kevin Love (and his giant contract) entrenched at power forward, Thompson is probably moving on. Several contenders will line up to add the veteran big in free agency.

Fits with: Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, Warriors, Mavericks, Rockets, Nuggets

20. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Age: 27

No player improved his fortunes more during the restart than Caldwell-Pope. For his first two years with the Lakers, Caldwell-Pope was largely written off as being there because he’s represented by LeBron James’ agency. Last season, KCP proved those skeptics wrong. He played mostly off the bench as part of a wing defense trio with Danny Green and Avery Bradley. With better spacing around James and Anthony Davis, Caldwell-Pope has also shot a career-high 47% from the floor, including 39% from behind the arc. After starting for a champion, Caldwell-Pope will test the market this offseason.

Fits with: Lakers, Hawks, Hornets, Warriors

21. Evan Fournier (Opt in at $17.2 million)

Age: 28

Fournier is Orlando’s best scorer and playmaker off the dribble. He also brings some outside shooting to a team that is inconsistent at best from deep.

22. Malik Beasley (restricted)

Age: 24

Since his trade to Minnesota at the deadline, we saw just how good Beasley can be with more minutes. He nearly doubled his playing time and field goal attempts with the Wolves, and it came with good results. Beasley averaged 20.7 points on 47/43/75 shooting splits. In a class short on good, young wings, Beasley would normally be a hot commodity. The challenge is he’s had some recent legal issues. That makes his market more of an unknown for a player of his potential.

Fits with: Timberwolves, Hornets, Pistons, Knicks

LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (31) wearing Beats wireless headphones before the Los Angeles Lakers versus Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday March 8, 2020, at Staples Center.
Marcus Morris Sr. was acquired by the Los Angeles Clippers before last season's trade deadline. (Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

23. Marcus Morris Sr.

Age: 31

Morris can play either forward spot and is equally good as a starter or coming off the bench. He’ll be 31 at the start of next season, but has the kind of game that should age well. After taking a one-year, $15 million deal from the Knicks, Morris might be looking for more long-term security. The bigger paydays might come with one-year deals, however. The Clippers gave up a first-round pick for Morris, which signals they’ll look to re-sign him this summer.

Fits with: Clippers, Nets, Lakers

24. De’Anthony Melton (restricted)

Age: 22

You have to do some projecting here. Melton had a rough rookie season on a terrible Suns team in 2018-19. This year on a surprisingly good Grizzlies team, Melton mostly came off the bench but looked a lot better. He’s got a solid all-around offensive game, and has been a competitive defender. Given Memphis has Ja Morant and Tyus Jones locked in a point guard for the next few years, a decently sized offer sheet could steal Melton away.

Fits with: Grizzlies, Pistons, Knicks, Hawks, Suns

25. Kris Dunn (restricted)

Age: 26

Dunn was finally figuring out his ideal role in the NBA when his season was cut short due to a knee injury. Instead of playing as a pure lead guard, Dunn was slotted in as a combo guard with Tomas Satoransky and rookie Coby White handling most of the playmaking. Zach LaVine did a lot of the ball-handling as well. Dunn was able to focus on getting to the rim and playing defense. Those are skills he definitely has. Slot him as a combo guard next to some solid shooters, and maybe you find some success.

Fits with: Hawks, Suns, Pistons, Magic, Rockets

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