We have just passed the halfway point of the 2015-16 NBA season, which means it’s probably too early to start discussing the free agent class of 2016, let alone free agency in 2017, right?
Typically, yes. But 2017 will be anything but a typical free agent crop. In fact, the summer of 2017 will feature arguably the greatest collection of free agent point guards to ever hit the open market at the same time in the history of the National Basketball Association.
Steph Curry was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player last season. Then, he helped lead the Warriors to the NBA championship. Not a bad year, all things considered. This season, however, some have suggested he should be in the conversation for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. While probably a stretch, that statement speaks to just how much better Curry has played this season, despite exhibiting greatness last year. Some have argued that Curry has already done enough to prove that he is the best shooter the game has ever seen. For instance, prior to the start of this season, no player in NBA history had ever made more than 230 three-pointers in fewer than 77 games. Steph has knocked down 232 triples in just 47 games this season. And in 1985-86, when Larry Bird led the NBA in three-point makes, he averaged 2.4 three-point attempts per game. Curry is currently averaging 4.9 makes per game.
Steph Curry will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
Russell Westbrook is arguably the most exciting and dynamic athlete in the NBA today. Not only is he fun to watch, he is also one of the league’s best all-around players. Consider this: Westbrook has scored more points this season than LeBron James and Paul George; dished out more assists than John Wall and Chris Paul; and grabbed more rebounds than LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Horford. Oh, and he leads the NBA in steals as well. Westbrook, who has posted a triple-double in 18 of the last 84 games he’s played, is averaging 21.1 points, 11.8 assists and 10.1 rebounds over OKC’s last 11 games. As our Joel Brigham wrote this morning, he’s currently in the midst of a three-game triple-double streak.
Russell Westbrook will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
Despite being a few years older than the Westbrook and Curry, Chris Paul is still playing at an extremely high level. He is currently only one of seven players boasting a PER of 25 or better. He’s been First-Team All-Defense and First or Second Team All-NBA in each of the last four seasons.
Chris Paul has a player option for the 2017-18 season, which means he has the opportunity to opt-out of his current contract and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
Kyle Lowry, who will participate in his second straight All-Star game later this month, is enjoying arguably the best season of his career. He’s averaging career-highs in points (20.8), rebounds (4.9), three-pointers (2.8) and steals (2.3) per game. He has a legit shot to join James Harden and Steph Curry as just the third player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, six dimes, five boards and two three-pointers per game over the course of a full season.
Kyle Lowry has a player option for the 2017-18 season, which means he will most likely opt-out of his current contract and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
Remarkably, four of the best point guards in the NBA will all likely hit free agency at the same time.
Yet, the fun doesn’t end there.
Jrue Holiday has had trouble staying healthy, but when he’s been able to play, he’s proven to be one of the more promising young floor generals in the NBA today. Still just 25 years old, Holiday is carrying a PER north of 19 this season for the first time in his career. He’s had his playing time limited by the Pelicans’ coaching staff, but Jrue is averaging over 20 points and seven assists per-36 minutes this season.
Jrue Holiday will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
Tyreke Evans is another tantalizing talent. As a rookie, he joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James as only the fourth first-year player ever to average at least 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game. He’s been shuffled back and forth between positions during his career – sometimes playing on the wing instead of at the one – but he’s shown he can be a very productive basketball player when focused and put in the right situation.
Tyreke Evans will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
Derrick Rose became the youngest MVP in league history back in 2011, when he took home the hardware as a 22-year-old. As we know, very little has gone according to plan for Rose in the years since, but he’s managed to stay relatively healthy this season and has shown sporadic flashes of his former greatness at times.
Derrick Rose will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
George Hill’s numbers won’t knock your socks off, but he’s an incredibly consistent and rock-solid starting point guard. He has been a big reason for the Pacers’ success in recent years with his effective two-way production.
You guessed it: George Hill will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2017.
Ditto for Jeff Teague, the 27-year-old Hawks point guard, who was a member of the Eastern Conference All-Star team last season.
We’re not done yet. The following players also have contracts that expire following the 2016-17 season: Darren Collison, Jarrett Jack, Patty Mills, Shaun Livingston, Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin.
The following list of players may become free agents in 2017, depending on whether options are exercised:
* Deron Williams (Player Option for 2016-17)
* Jeremy Lin (Player Option for 2016-17)
* Ty Lawson (Non-Guaranteed Contract for 2016-17)
* Rodney Stuckey (Player Option for 2017-18)
* Austin Rivers (Team Option for 2016-17)
* Mo Williams (Player Option for 2016-17)
The following players were drafted in 2013 and are still on their rookie deals, but could potentially become restricted free agents in 2017:
* C.J. McCollum
* Dennis Schroder
* Michael Carter-Williams
* Trey Burke
While still over 16 months away, it’s clear that this free agent pool has the potential to be historically good, which is why general managers around the league are looking ahead to 2017.
As a result, it will be interesting to see how free agents will be handled this upcoming summer. Due to the drastically limited supply of top-tier point guards available in 2016, a legit star such as Mike Conley (the best PG on the market this summer) will be in high demand and will be able to fetch top dollar. Other intriguing point guard options this summer include Rajon Rondo, Jordan Clarkson (restricted) and Brandon Jennings. Will teams decide to hold off on splurging for a PG and instead wait to splurge on a playmaker the following summer?
In 2017, an incredible supply of elite PGs will flood the market. The cream of the crop will obviously get max money, but it will be interesting to see if the sheer number of available point guards drives the prices down a bit for those in that second tier. However, it should also be noted that the salary cap is expected to spike to an all-time high of approximately $108 million in 2017, which means that teams will have plenty of money to throw around.
The NBA has become a point-guard driven league in recent years, with some of the game’s biggest stars playing the position. With so many of those notable names hitting free agency at the same time, it will be fascinating to see how the summer of 2017 plays out.
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