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Ranking The Top 50 NBA Free Agents in 2015

Free agency is right around the corner. Get up to speed with this ranking of the top 50 free agents.

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Updated 10 months ago on
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Over the course of the previous month, Tommy Beer has ranked and tiered the free agents at each position.

Today, he’ll combine these rankings in order to determine the top 50 free agents available.

1. LeBron James – Player option

Obviously, the best player on the planet sits atop this list. LeBron will likely opt out of his current deal this summer and sign another two-year contract with an option to become a free agent again in 2016. That will allow him to sign an insanely lucrative long-term contract with Cleveland next offseason, after the salary cap spikes to upwards of $90 million.

2. Kawhi Leonard – Restricted
Here is the complete list of all NBA players who have won both an NBA Finals MVP award and the Defensive Player of the Year award at some point in their career: Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and… Kawhi Leonard. Amazingly, Leonard earned both of those commendations before he turned 25 years old. The Spurs will obviously offer Kawhi the max (or match if he signs a max offer sheet from another team). The only question is, might Leonard be willing to gamble and sign just a two-year deal with an option to opt-out in 2016, which would allow him to sign a far more lucrative contract next summer? Last month, we outlined the pros and cons of this potential strategy that may be employed by top-tier free agents this summer.

3. Marc Gasol – Unrestricted

Gasol is the crown jewel of the free agent center crop. A terrifically well-rounded big man, he can score on the low block or face up. He can defend the rim and rebound. He’s also one of the best passing centers in the NBA. He’ll have plenty of options next month, but it would be surprising if he took less money and left Memphis.

4. Kevin Love – Unrestricted

Unsurprisingly, because it makes the most fiscal sense to do so, Love has decided to opt out of his current contract. He basically has two options: 1. Sign a contract that gives him an option to become a free agent again next summer – the most likely scenario would be a two-year deal with an opt-out clause after the first season, just as LeBron did last year and will likely do again this year. 2. Sign a long-term max contract (which would be a five-year deal with Cleveland or a four-year deal with a team other than the Cavs). The most likely outcome may be Love signing a two-year deal with the Cavaliers, spending one more season in Cleveland proving he is fully healthy, and then cashing in with a huge contract next summer.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge – Unrestricted
Early on in the proceedings, most assumed Aldridge would re-sign with the Blazers this summer. However, reports have indicated that he has all but ruled out a return to the Rose Garden, and may be keenly interested in returning to his home state of Texas and joining either the Mavericks or Spurs. Might Aldridge make the same gamble as Kevin Love? If LaMarcus signed a max contract in 2016 (when he’d have 10 years of experience and could sign for 35 percent of the cap), here is what that deal would look like:

Aldridge Salary

6. Draymond Green – Restricted
Green struggled a bit in the first few games of the NBA Finals, but the big-picture reality remains: Draymond is the type of young, hungry, defensive-minded, versatile, unselfish, aggressive player that general managers covet. And it’s not just intangibles that Green brings to the table. His all-around contributions would improve any roster. This past season he just missed becoming the second player in NBA history to tally at least 110 blocks, 110 steals and 110 three-pointers in the same season.

7. Jimmy Butler – Restricted
Some were surprised when Butler turned down a long-term offer from Chicago last summer (likely in the neighborhood of $44 million over four years), choosing instead to bet on himself. Well, the gamble paid off. Butler blossomed into a legit star this past season. His scoring average jumped from 13.1 points per game in 2013-14, to 20 points per game in 2014-15, due mainly to the fact that his field goal percentage soared from 39.7 percent to 46.2 percent. He also set career highs in rebounds, assists and blocks. He’s going to get multiple max offers this summer.

8. DeAndre Jordan – Unrestricted

Jordan has steadily improved year-to-year, and has firmly established himself as one of the NBA’s best big men. He finished the 2014-15 campaign averaging 11.5 points, a whopping 15.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, while shooting a mind-boggling 71.0 percent from the floor. He joined Wilt Chamberlain as just the second player in NBA history to average at least 15 rebounds per game and shoot over 70 percent from the field. Jordan will demand max money on the open market. Yet, considering how invaluable he’s been for the Los Angeles Clippers this season, it’s hard to imagine Doc Rivers letting him leave L.A. (the Clippers will have his “Bird Rights” – which means they can offer a fifth season and significantly more money than other suitors).

9. Goran Dragic – Player Option

Dragic is the top point guard in what is a relatively weak group of free agents point guards. In 2013-14, Goran averaged 20.3 points per game and 5.9 assists, while shooting over 50 percent from the floor (LeBron James was the only other player to average at least 20/5.5/50 percent in 2013-14, and no player in the NBA matched those numbers this season). Dragic’s numbers weren’t quite as impressive in 2014-15 as he had to split minutes in a crowded Phoenix backcourt before being traded mid-season. The HEAT paid a steep price (two first-round draft picks) to acquire him from Phoenix at the trade deadline, so it’s safe to assume Miami will be willing to pony up and offer Dragic near-max money this summer.

10. Brook Lopez – Player Option
Lopez is arguably the best offensive center in the NBA. He’s averaged at least 20 points per game in five straight seasons. The problem is he’s also missed at least 65 games in two of his last four seasons. Even though he has a $16.7 million option he can exercise for next season, it appears he’ll opt out (while he’s healthy) and get a new long-term deal.

11. Paul Millsap – Unrestricted

Millsap had to settle last time he hit free agency. He ended up signing a two-year deal with Atlanta for just $19 million. Millsap was named an All-Star in each of his two seasons with the Hawks, and will be looking to cash in with a lucrative long-term deal this summer. However, is Atlanta willing to pony up to keep their core together (DeMarre Carroll is also a free agent this summer)?

12. Tim Duncan – Unrestricted

While Tim Duncan hasn’t yet beaten the undefeated Father Time, Timmy D has somehow managed to play him to a standstill. Duncan clearly can still produce at an elite level for another year or two. Will he retire, or sign one more contract with the Spurs before riding off into the sunset?

13. Dwyane Wade – Player Option

Wade is obviously no longer the player he once was, but he is a still capable of playing at an elite level. While durability is definitely a concern (he’s missed a total of 48 games over the last two seasons), his performance on the floor is still awfully impressive. Last season, he was one of just six players to average at least 21 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds. The other six members of this exclusive club were Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Blake Griffin. Wade has a $16.1 million player option for the 2015-16 season. It will be very interesting to see if he opts out this summer in order to sign one last big contract.

14. Danny Green – Unrestricted

Green starred at the University of North Carolina, where he became the only player in ACC history with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 three-pointers, 150 blocks and 150 steals, yet still slid into the second round in the 2009 draft. He was eventually waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers before the San Antonio Spurs scooped him up. Green has flourished in the Spurs’ system ever since. He has played extremely well in big games, and helped propel the Spurs to a title in 2014. It could be argued that Green is the best all-around 3-and-D wing on the market this summer. Although he has publicly professed a desire to return to San Antonio, plenty of other GMs will come calling to test his allegiance.

15. Greg Monroe – Unrestricted

Monroe flashed elite talent and very intriguing upside early on in his career. As a 21-year-old, he averaged 15.4 points (on 52.1 percent shooting), 9.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game in his second pro season. However, he’s never taken his game to the next level. His field goal percentage has dipped below 50 percent for three consecutive seasons. His steal and block totals have decreased three years in row. Still just 24, some team will throw plenty of money (and possibly even a max deal) his way.

16. DeMarre Carroll – Unrestricted
Carroll bounced around the NBA, playing for four teams over his first three years in the league, before signing a two-year deal with the Hawks in the summer of 2013. He developed into a terrific two-way player in Atlanta and returned tremendous value for the Hawks (Carroll made just $2.4 million this past season). He survived a scare in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, when it appeared he had suffered a major knee injury. Plenty of teams will be knocking down his door on July 1 to eagerly offer him a major raise.

17. Tristan Thompson – Restricted
There was a lot of debate last summer when Thompson reportedly rejected a four-year, $52 million offer from Cleveland. Many pundits felt it was a foolish decision. Well, after Kevin Love was injured in the Cavs opening round series versus Boston, Thompson played arguably the best basketball of his career. In the process, he proved just how valuable he is to Cleveland. The league’s best offensive rebounder boosted his stock considerably in the process.

18. Khris Middleton – Restricted

Middleton, who slipped into the second round in the 2012 draft, has improved dramatically in each of his first three seasons of his career. This past season, he emerged as a solid starter for the up-and-coming Bucks, averaging 13.4 points with an effective field goal percentage of 53 percent. At just 23 years old, is he just scratching the surface of his potential? That enticing ceiling will result in plenty of lucrative offers – but the early word is the Bucks have every intention of matching any offer.

19. Reggie Jackson – Restricted
Jackson is coming off a roller-coaster 2014-15 campaign. Over the first 15 games of the season, with both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook sidelined for the majority of those contests, Jackson averaged 19.3 points, 7.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds. Jackson was one of only two players to average at least 19/7/5 over the first month of the season. However, Jackson landed in coach Scott Brooks’ doghouse shortly after Kevin Durant and Westbrook returned, and Jackson’s numbers nosedived. He was then traded to Detroit, and after stumbling a bit in his first few games, played terrifically for the Pistons. In fact, Jackson was one of only four players to average at least 17 points and 9 assists in post-All-Star break action. The other three were Chris Paul, Westbrook and John Wall. Will the Pistons, who have Brandon Jennings returning from injury next season, be willing to match a large offer to Jackson this summer?

20. Brandon Knight – Restricted
Knight has already played for three different teams in his short NBA career. He’s shown steady improvement, but he is just a career 41 percent shooter from the floor and maybe more of an undersized combo-guard than pure PG. Still, he flashed considerable upside in 2013-14, when he averaged just under 18 points and five assists per contest. There will be plenty of interested parties vying for the 23-year-old’s services.

21. Monta Ellis – Player Option

Ellis had a $9.1 million option for 2015-16, but has decided to opt out. He’s durable (playing at least 80 games in four of the last five season) and he’s an offensive force, averaging at least 19 points per game in each of the last seven seasons. However, Ellis’ game is not without flaws. He’s a volume shooter, and he can be a liability on the defensive end. At the right price point, he’d be a solid addition to nearly any roster. The issue is a GM may have to overpay to land him, which reduces the value of return on investment.

22. Wesley Matthews – Unrestricted

Matthews tore his Achilles tendon in early March and is facing a daunting rehab, which will scare off plenty of suitors and likely drive his price down considerably. Before the injury, the underrated Matthews was enjoying another solid season, playing well on both sides of the ball. In fact, he was leading the entire league in made three-pointers at the All-Star break. Recovering fully from an Achilles tear is certainly scary, but if his price tag drops far enough, Matthews could end up being a very shrewd signing.

23. Tobias Harris – Restricted

Harris is one of the more difficult free agents to peg. He’s dealt with some injury issues (missing 35 games over the last two seasons), and his defensive aptitude isn’t all that impressive. However, Harris has shown plenty of intriguing upside during his stint in Orlando. Last season, he was one of just six players to average at least 17 points, six rebounds and one steal per game. (The other five were: Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony). Still just 22 years of age, Harris has yet to hit his prime.

24. Tyson Chandler – Unrestricted
Rumors of Chandler’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The Knicks dumped the injury-prone Tyson, believing his best days were behind him. However, Chandler bounced back in a big way in Big D. He averaged a double-double and, amazingly, posted the highest PER of his career (20.1). A veteran and proven winner, he’ll have plenty of suitors this summer.

25. Timofey Mozgov – Team Option
Any doubt about whether or not the Cavaliers would exercise Mozgov’s option and bring him back to Cleveland was wiped away by his phenomenal play in the NBA Finals, which confirmed the Cavs have a valuable player, who’ll only get paid $4.9 million next season.

26. Thaddeus Young – Player Option

Young doesn’t have any one particular skill that will bowl you over, but he contributes across the board. He’s been stuck playing for bad teams the last few seasons, which has depressed his value as he’s been forced into a larger role than he’d prefer. A player like Young excels when he can thrive as a complementary piece of a bigger puzzle (as he did with the Nets after coming to Brooklyn in the Kevin Garnett trade). A long, lengthy defender, Young can guard numerous positions, and also contribute on the offensive end of the floor as well. During the 2013-14 season, he became the first player in eight years to average at least 17 points, six rebounds and two steals over the course of a full NBA campaign.

27. Josh Smith – Unrestricted

While Smith still uses his length and athleticism to contribute defensively, his offensive game is so inconsistent and inefficient that the net returns aren’t always positive. Consider this: In 2013-14, Smith was the only qualifying player in the NBA to shoot below 42 percent from the field and below 55 percent from the free-throw line. Then, last season, Smith did it again. And, again, he was the only player in this ignominious club. A team will inevitably take a chance on his upside, but how much will a prudent GM be willing to gamble?

28. Luol Deng – Player Option
Deng’s production has trended in the wrong direction the last few seasons, but he still plays hard and plays the right way. For the right price, he’d improve any team he’s a part of.

29. Enes Kanter – Restricted

Kanter remains a bit of a mystery. He’s been in the league for four years, but just turned 23 and has never averaged more than 27 minutes per game in any season. He got a chance to play heavy minutes down the stretch in Oklahoma City last season and made the most of his opportunity, averaging 18.7 ppg and 11 rebounds. Will a team make a serious offer and force the Thunder to match? What offer would be high enough to scare OKC away?

30. Robin Lopez – Unrestricted
Not nearly as accomplished on the offensive end as his brother, Robin is a better defender and rebounder than Brook. Robin has also been far more durable. He’ll be available at a relatively affordable cost compared to the rest of the centers listed here. If you have plenty of offensive firepower on your roster, Lopez is solid fit as he will be happy to clog up the paint, board and bang.

31. Patrick Beverley – Restricted
The ball-hawking Beverley has been one of the NBA’s most aggressive defenders since elbowing his way into the Rockets’ rotation. However, his health is a bit of a question mark after missing the end of the regular season and the playoffs after undergoing surgery on his left wrist that will require four months of recovery. This may decrease demand for his services. If so, he may end up as one of the better values on the market.

32. Rajon Rondo – Unrestricted
It seems like only yesterday when it was all but a forgone conclusion that Rondo would have teams beating down his door to offer him a max contract when he hit the open market. However, Rondo’s stock, which was dipping, bottomed out in Dallas. After an uninspired effort in Game 2 of their playoffs series, the Mavericks sent him home and refused to pay him a postseason share. While Rondo’s performance this past season was undeniably disappointing, the signs of regression were certainly evident. Not only is he injury prone (Rondo has missed at least 14 games each season this decade), his production even when healthy is no longer elite. Once a feared defender, Rondo is now merely average. And his offensive efficiency has gone from bad to worse. He’s a career 26 percent three-point shooter and last season he became the first player in NBA history shorter than 6’6 to shoot below 40 percent from the free-throw line over the course of a full NBA campaign. We know he won’t be back in Dallas, but where will he end up? And for how much? The Rondo situation is extremely interesting and largely unpredictable.

33. David West – Player Option

One of the most respected professionals in the sport, West’s significant contributions are not limited to what he does on the floor. West’s role as a mentor and team leader greatly increases his value and overall worth.

34. J.R. Smith – Player Option

Employing Smith is akin to riding a roller-coaster, as his defensive effort and on-court focus often wax and wane. Still, he’s undeniably one of the best long-range shooters in the NBA.

35. Lou Williams – Unrestricted

Lou Williams bounced back in a big way for the Raptors this season. He tore his ACL in January of 2013, but proved he was fully recovered last season, averaging a career-high 15.5 points per game en route to winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. Williams is ideally suited for any team that needs a scoring spark off the bench.

36. Iman Shumpert – Restricted

Shumpert showed flashes of star potential as a rookie, averaging 9.5 points and 2.8 assists and earning First Team All-Rookie honors in New York. He also finished in the top 10 in steals that season (1.7 per game), and was recognized as one of the preeminent young perimeter defenders in the NBA. However, his game has regressed in the years since, possibly due to an ACL tear in 2012. He’s not quite the same feared defender, and his offensive game hasn’t improved (his free throw percentage has actually decreased in each of his last three seasons). Still, he’s a hard worker who’s yet to reach his full potential. He’ll draw interest on the open market.

37. Paul Pierce – Player Option

Pierce is obviously no longer the superstar he once was, but he clearly demonstrated his value during the Wizards’ playoff run last month, when Washington leaned on him heavily in the clutch and he came through time after time. Furthermore, his important contributions as a locker room leader may be more important than his on-court offering at this point of his career. Recent rumors have, once again, linked him to the Clippers.

38. Kosta Koufos – Unrestricted

It will be very interesting to see what offers Koufos fields once he hits the open market. Backing up Marc Gasol, his playing time has been limited. However, his Per-36 minute averages are impressive: 11.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.

39. Arron Afflalo – Player Option

Afflalo, who dealt with a number of nagging injuries last season, is coming off an extremely disappointing 2014-15 campaign. He shot below 43 percent from the floor for the first time since his rookie season and posted near career-lows in rebounds and assists. He finished the year with a putrid PER of just 10.7, well below the league average. Afflalo opted out of the final $7.75 million on his contract, eager to prove last season was an aberration.

40. Corey Brewer – Player Option:

Brewer is set to make $4.9 million next season. It’s safe to assume he’ll opt-out and hit the open market, as he’s due for a raise and a longer contract after a solid showing in Houston over the second half of the 2014-15 season and especially in the playoffs.

41. Brandan Wright – Unrestricted

Wright had the best season of his young career in 2013-14 in Dallas, when he averaged 9.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, while shooting 67.7 percent from the floor. Still, there are noticeable flaws in his game. Can he handle the rigors of starter’s minutes? Is he worth upwards of $6 million a season? We shall see….

42. Amir Johnson – Unrestricted

He’s played 10 seasons in the NBA, but he’s still just 28 years old. We know what Johnson is at this stage of the game: A solid rotation player with some obvious limitations.

43. Ed Davis – Player Option

Davis slid through the cracks last summer and had to settle for a low-ball offer from the L.A. Lakers. After a decent season in L.A., he’ll be a free agent again this summer.

44. Jordan Hill – Team Option

While he wasn’t quite as efficient this past season as he was in 2013-14, Hill posted career highs across the board in 2014-15, scoring 12 points and grabbing 7.9 rebounds per game.

45. Rodney Stuckey – Unrestricted

Stuckey filled in solidly for the Pacers last season, shooting a career-high from both the floor (44 percent) and from behind-the-arc (39 percent).

46. Al-Farouq Aminu – Player Option
His counting stats will never jump off the page, but the former lottery pick (eighth overall selection in 2010) continues to steadily improve. His PER and Win Shares have increased each season he’s been in the league. He was a tremendous value signing for the Mavs last summer, as Dallas paid him less than a million bucks this past season. He will undoubtedly opt-out (his player option is for just $1.1 million). This improving, defensive-minded wing could still be a solid value if signed for the right price.

47. Manu Ginobili – Unrestricted

He’s clearly still talented, but certainly not the same player he once was. Does Ginobili come back for one last stint in San Antonio, or ride off into the sunset?

48. Jae Crowder – Restricted
After seeing limited and sporadic minutes over his first few seasons in Dallas, Crowder got a chance to shine in Boston after a mid-season deal sent him to the Celtics. Efficiency is an issue (he posted just an eFG below 47 percent), but the energy and defensive effort he brought to the table reportedly impressed Celtics management. We shall see what kind of offers Crowder might receive this summer, and if Boston will match.

49Jared Dudley – Player Option
Every good team needs a ‘glue guy’ like Dudley. A solid shooter with a high-basketball IQ, Dudley is the type of veteran bench contributor that GMs desire when fleshing out a roster. Dudley has yet to decide if he will exercise his player option (he has one year and $4.3 million left on his current deal).

50.  Marco Belinelli – Unrestricted
As more and more of a premium is placed on three-point shooting league-wide, sharp shooters such as Belinelli will always have value.

Tommy Beer is a Senior NBA Analyst and the Fantasy Sports Editor of Basketball Insiders, having covered the NBA for the last nine seasons.

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