This year’s free agent class is not the 2012 class and it never will be. The crop of players may lack in star power and overall name recognition, but there a plenty of parts available to put together a championship caliber club. The Celtics will be active during this free agent period and there are plenty of players here to round out an already potent lineup. Nene appears to be the consensus overall top prize and his signing will likely set most of the others in motion. Depending on where he signs could change the landscape as the others clubs scramble to throw a ton of money at the other remaining options.
Here we go:
1. Nene, C, Nuggets
Nene is the prize of the 2011 free agent class. Nene is a plus defender that can score. This past season in 75 games played, Nene averaged 14.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Nene is often labeled as an injury risk, but the veteran big man has only missed 12 games over the last three seasons. Playoff experience and the combination of offense and defense outweigh the downside of being 29 and on the verge of signing him to a long-term contract. Since capable centers are rare, expect many teams to be making a run at him.
2. Tyson Chandler, C, Mavericks
Chandler is coming off of a championship season and established himself as an elite defender by really taking his game to the next level during the post season. The Mavericks have to resign him if they hope to make another legit run at the title. The Mavs have made resigning him their number one priority, but all indications point to Chandler leaving town. The veteran defender is not getting any younger and has had his fair share of injuries over the years. However, he has proven that he can be what it takes to be that missing piece to the championship puzzle. In 74 games played this past season, Chandler averaged 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
3. David West, PF, Hornets
The veteran former all star surely did benefit from the lockout and got a few extra months to allow his surgically repaired knee to heal. West is not short on scoring and his above average mid-range jumper helps GM’s feel better about signing him to a deal given his age. In 70 games played this season, West averaged 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
4. Marc Gasol, C, Grizzlies (restricted)
Gasol helped the Grizzlies reach Game 7 of the conference semifinals and would be the number one overall free agent if he weren’t restricted. Besides all that, he is now the number one Gasol in the league. The Grizzlies will have to shell out a lot of money and intend on matching offers to keep Gasol in Memphis for the long haul. At only 26 years old, Gasol has plenty of upside and is on the verge of becoming a superstar in his own right. In 81 games played this past season, Gasol averaged 11.7 points and 7 rebounds per game. Those numbers jumped up to 15 and 11.2 during the post season.
5. Jeff Green, F, Celtics (r)
Green has a tremendous amount of talent, but at what position? The ultimate tweener has plenty of scoring capabilities, but needs to work on his all around game in order to make a legitimate contribution on a nightly basis. All indications have Green returning to the Celtics and this seems to the perfect place for him to shine. In Boston, Green will not be counted on to start and can put up plenty of minutes either at guard or forward for the aging Green Team. In 75 games played this past season, Green averaged 13.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
6. DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers (r)
Jordan is another player that would be rated much higher had he not have been restricted. He can block shots, rebound and play decent defense. While he is limited offensively, he could be extremely valuable to teams like Boston, New York, Miami or Dallas where he would not be counted on to score and can contribute in the areas where he excels. The Clippers are committed to matching offers, but just how high they plan to match is not known. In 80 games played this past season, Jordan averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
7. Kris Humphries, F, Nets
(Insert joke about marriage here) All kidding aside, Humphries is a legitimate double double guy and a player worth taking a flier on in free agency. Bigs that can score and rebound don’t come around too often. Some say the numbers are inflated due to playing extended minutes on a bad team, but the kid can rebound and that is something teams will pay a lot of money for in any off season. In 74 games played this past season, Humphries averaged 10 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
8. Thaddeus Young, F, 76ers (r)
Young can play a multitude of positions and his flexibility helped the rise of the 76ers this past season. Seen as more of a sixth man, the 76ers would be foolish to let him hit the open market. Still, at only 23, Young can score and rebound with the best of them and would be a valuable addition to just about any team looking to make run at the championship. In 82 games played this past season, Young averaged 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game averaging only 26 minutes played.
9. Grant Hill, F, Suns
Over the past three seasons, Hill has averaged at least 80 games played, 12.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. With the Suns looking to rebuild, Hill could be on the move. Hill may not be the dominating player he once was, but his experience and leadership qualities make him a valuable pickup for team looking to put together a complete all around club.
10. Glen Davis, PF, Celtics
Big Baby shined in Boston and the Celtics were able to get the most out of his ability. Davis is best suited to be the first man off the bench. Davis is capable of scoring; rebounding and providing the all around spark a team needs at times. Being that Davis is not seen as a starter in the league may hurt his chances in free agency, but a return to a team like the Celtics could be mutually beneficial. In 78 games played this past season, Davis averaged 11.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.