Mike Gallagher

Offseason Beat

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NBA Free Agent Rankings

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Well, so much for the offseason. The NBA season ended just a week ago and we're already loaded with news about the draft and free agency. The draft is coming up on Thursday and we'll be blurbing every player selected on our Player News page and break it down what it could mean his new team. You can also check back for tons of columns this offseason to track all off the fantasy and non-fantasy stories this summer.

 

We're looking at a fairly deep free agency group this summer, so I thought it would be cool to rank all of them. The following is a list of the entire 2014 free agency class. Any player who played last year and even has a chance of being a free agent is on this list. Even if they have said they're going to opt in on their deals, they're still on there. For instance, Amare Stoudemire is opting in on his early termination option (ETO), but he's still on the list.

 

The rankings are more or less based on which players I'd want on my team. I have an affinity to 3-point shooting and defense, so those two attributes will help a guy move up the rankings. Plus, youth also gets a huge bump because some players haven't shown their ceilings yet. Well, here we go:

You can follow me on Twitter for all sorts of stats and analysis 

 

(Updates on status are provided in bold)

 

1. LeBron James (ETO, Reportedly opted out) - He can do whatever he wants. If LeBron actually looks to join another team, that team would instantly become a championship contender. There is no other player on this list that even comes close to that. He’s not going anywhere, though.

 
2. Carmelo Anthony (ETO, Officially opted out) - Melo is going to opt out of his deal with the Knicks and become a free agent. The Rockets, Bulls and Heat (!) are in play for the NBA’s No. 2 scorer from last season. The problem with Melo is that he does so much of his damage in ISO. In fact, a ridiculous 26.6 percent of his shots came in ISO last season, which crushes the 16.2 percent of Kevin Durant (Synergy).
 
Any team that brings Melo in would completely change the way their offense operates. That said, there aren’t many who can score better than Melo and he is obviously going to go wherever he wants.
 
3. Eric Bledsoe (Restricted) - I love this guy and I almost wanted to put Bledsoe at No. 2. If you think Melo can score on his own, Bledsoe is certainly in the same class. The Kentucky product had just 18.5 percent of his buckets come off an assist last season to lead all players with at least 15 minutes per game. He also shot a very respectable 37.2 percent from deep in his last two seasons.
 
The Suns have to know he’s a max player and better pony up like Ginuwine for this franchise guy.
 
4. Chris Bosh (ETO)-  It’s easy to pile on Bosh for not showing up in the NBA Finals. For a max player to get just 12 touches — like Bosh did in Game 3 — it is completely inexcusable. That said, Bosh is one of the best power forward in the game. The personnel have undoubtedly changed his style of play, but he should still be able to thrive anywhere. He’ll be with the Heat next year, obviously. This is also a really cool graphic and column about his shot distribution over the years from Grantland, so check that out.
 
It’s not too long ago CB4 was able to score at the rim at will. He’s still a max guy, but he’s not opting out unless it’s to take less money with the Heat.
 
5. Dirk Nowitzki (Unrestricted) - He’s recently said that he doesn’t need to take meds to get through games, which isn’t a surprise after he was on fire last season. Dirk turned in an impressive 54.9 effective field goal percentage, which ranked third behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant among player with at least 15 field goal attempts per game.
 
He’s not going anywhere.
 
6. Tim Duncan (Player option, Officially opted in) - Five rings, yo. As Eric B.  & Rakim would say, don’t sweat the technique. We probably won’t see another quite like The Big Fundamental and he’s still one of the best players you’d want on your team. He has clearly moved closer to the rim lately and 35.7 percent of his shots last year came at the rim. That has increased in each of his last four seasons — not a surprise. It’s also worth noting he had 43.2 percent of his shots at the rim in the playoffs. He made 67.5 percent of those shots and made just 41.8 percent of his other shots.
 
Could you imagine him in another uniform? That’s as bad as Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform, Joe Montana in a Chiefs uniform or when the Rams brought on Joe Namath. Also, I thought this was a really cool graphic from the Boston Globe:
 
 
 
7. Greg Monroe (Restricted) - The Pistons will be have some changes to their roster. Stan Van Gundy will definitely be looking to add some 3-point shooters to his team based on how the Pistons ranked 29th in 3-point percentage, which has been SVG’s bread and butter. During his Magic days, they ranked first for 3-pointers in the last four years he was there. They were also first in above-the break 3-pointers in that span and it wasn’t really close. Again, the presence of Dwight really opens things up for shooters, but ranking first in each season speaks volumes. It’s obvious the new coach is going to want to get some shooters on his new team.

He can score at the rim with the best of them and someone (the Pelicans) could wind up paying him max dough.
 
8. Kyle Lowry (Unrestricted) - Perhaps no player came up bigger than Kyle Lowry last season. He obliterated his career-high for points per game, effective field goal percentage and was the best player on the Raptors. In the first three years of his career, he had greater than 40.9 percent of his shots come at the rim. In his last four, each have been less than 29 percent. That clearly shows he’s ready to flourish as an elite player. As for fantasy, he had first-round value on the season. Stud muffin.
 
As mentioned, last year was a bit of an anomaly. Back in the 2008-09 days, he was a man on a mission for going at the rim and getting to the free throw line. He had some problems staying healthy, but he’ll be a franchise point guard if he’s able to avoid that issue in the future.
 
9. Chandler Parsons (Team option) - General manager Daryl Morey has made it abundantly clear he will do whatever it takes to make his team better. As much as we want to discredit him as a second-round pick, he had a sterling effective field goal percentage of 56.7 percent in 2012-13 and 53.8 in 2013-14. Only 2 PG/SG/SFs have qualified better than Chandler Parsons in eFG% in each of the last two years: Jose Calderon and LeBron. Baller.
 
The Rockets are certainly running at a fast pace, but that kind of efficiency is undeniable. He can’t really defend and there are undoubtedly some issues on the other end, but he would see a hefty raise if the team doesn't want to bring him back.
 
10. Lance Stephenson (Unrestricted) - If it just came down to the first half of the season, Lance would have blown away the competition. That didn’t happen and he fell on his face in the second half of the season. Here’s a look at his shot chart pre-break vs. post-break:
 
 
 
Teams clearly put the clamps down on Indy, so it cost Lance a lot of shots at the rim. I think he will get it going again soon.
 
 
11. Marcin Gortat (Unrestricted) There are not many centers better than Gortat in PNR. The Wiz had more success in PNR with MG than without him and it had a lot to do with the team being apprehensive in scoring the ball. He showed he's a starter in this league.
 
12. Rudy Gay (Player option) It was an easy call here, but Rudy should be joining the Kings. Let’s take a look at his shooting last year with the Raptors (left) vs. the Kings (right):
 
 
 
The Kings made it clear Gay needs them more than the other way around. DeMarcus Cousins wants Rudy to stay and I highly doubt anything else happens.
 
13. Pau Gasol (Unrestricted) - The Lakers were bad last year. Yes, really bad. That wasn’t Pau’s fault, though. They were able to get just 30.8 percent of Pau's shots to come at the rim, which was a career low. He's basically been a 17-10 guy for three of the past four years with the Lakers and still has plenty left in the tank. There are some durability concerns now, too.
 
14. Isaiah Thomas (Restricted) - It’s easy to pick on IT2. The Kings were dead last in assists per game, but it didn't have too much to do with Thomas. DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay tend to get a good chunk of their shots on their own, which explains the low dimes. The Kings got a pleasant surprise out of Ray McCallum and it's made Thomas a bit more expendable. The team and local media haven't been too supportive of him, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in another uniform next year.
 
The Kings did not know how to run a PNR all season and it had a lot to do with their scheme. It could be fun to see IT2 on another team.
 
15. Gordon Hayward (Restricted) - The Jazz had some issues in scoring the ball last year. Trey Burke was one of the worst shooters in the league and Hayward had some shooting issues, as well. He shot just 34.1 percent in February, but did turn it on late, making 43.3 percent from the field after the break. He probably shouldn’t get max money.
 

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Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.



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