This is my favorite time of the year. Trades are happening, free agent rumors are circulating, and NBA Twitter is at the top of its game. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the game of basketball, but seeing the pieces come together in the offseason is fascinating to me. In that spirit, I’m going to talk about the most interesting free agent at each position. I am going to try and avoid a ton of big names in this article, as everyone and their mother has written about Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Starting off with point guard, this is actually one of my favorite low-key free agents this summer.
1. Point Guard: Delon Wright
Boy, am I high on Delon Wright. He just finished his fourth season in the NBA and is entering restricted free agency. After years of serving as an important but small part on the Toronto Raptors’ bench, he was shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies as a part of the Marc Gasol trade. With Fred Vanvleet showing up the way he did in the last two rounds of the playoffs, I think it is safe to say Toronto didn’t miss him. In 26 games with Memphis, averaging 8 more minutes than he has in any other season, Wright put up 12/5/5 with almost two steals a game. He would have been one of only five players to average those numbers. The biggest concern with Wright is his shooting. He shot a putrid 26% from three in Memphis. However, his career three percentage is right below league average and is 80% from free throw so his shot is not broken. He’s also entering a market that seems obsessed with point guards yet he has been very under-hyped. D-Lo is expected to get close to max money from a number of suitors, Indiana really wants Ricky Rubio, even Terry Rozier has had some rumors. Almost nothing on Wright. With Memphis drafting Ja Morant second in this year’s draft, it seems he wouldn’t get as many minutes if he came back. He’s going to come much cheaper than other guard options. And in him you’re getting a player two years away from his prime who can score and dish. Keep an eye out for a break out season from Wright should he land on a team that gives him healthy minutes.
Possible Suitors: Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, A competent Phoenix Suns
2. Shooting Guard: Jeremy Lamb
AKA The Raptors killer, Jeremy Lamb had a career year that was overshadowed by Charlotte’s depressing state and Kemba Walker’s upcoming free agency. Lamb averaged a career high in points per game, steals per game, and rebounds per game, while also hitting league average from three. There is a huge lack of two way shooting guards, and Lamb seems to be one of the few. He’s also only 26 years old and won’t break the bank. Assuming Kemba leaves (looking more and more likely), Charlotte will be in full tank mode and let him leave. Lamb has improved very marginally over his career but seems to be taking a leap forward in his game. It would be wise to bet on him before realizing his full potential. You can probably get away with giving him the full mid-level exception on a three to four year deal.
Possible Suitors: Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State (if Klay leaves)
3. Small Forward: Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is a diet Kawhi Leonard in every way. He can get his own shot, just not at a superstar level. He can defend very well, just not as well as the Klaw. He is a quiet guy and no one really knows what makes him tick, it just doesn’t have its own mythology like Kawhi. He also denied his player option just like Kawhi. What makes HB so interesting to me is he’s definitely a B+ player like Tobias Harris or Khris Middleton. He has a ring. I have no idea if he’s chasing winning or money in this offseason. Maybe its neither like Kawhi. There’s going to be a ton of cap space in free agency. There are going to be a large number of teams that whiff on their options. Barnes is going to get more money than you think. Two-way wings don’t grow on trees, just ask the Blazers. He can fit on any team and is a great third option. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he could be the second option on a championship team, although it would work out on a team like Utah. I think every team that misses out on Tobias Harris will give Barnes a call.
Possible Suitors: Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings
4. Power Forward: Julius Randle
God, I am so excited to see what Julius Randle does this offseason. I have no idea what he is! Is he a growing star or was he the only option on a bad team? Is his new found average three point shot here to stay or a flash in the pan? Listen, if Randle even replicates this production on a playoff team, he is a top eight power forward in the game. He droppped 21/9/3 as (essentially) the only option on a super cool New Orleans suicide squad. For real, half of that team could have made this article if New Orleans hadn’t picked up Okafor’s option. I think Randle is the real deal and he is a very unique player. He can be a playmaker at the four and is putting up buckets. Picture Draymond Green with *D’Antoni voice* half the defense but double the offense.
Possible Suitors: Brooklyn Nets, Clippers, A competent Suns
5. Center: Al Horford
Ah yes, the closest to a big name in the article. ‘Average Al’ isn’t supposed to be interesting. He isn’t supposed to swing teams or build contenders. Hell, he isn’t even supposed to be available. However, the Celtics‘ nightmare of an offseason continues with Al Horford out the door. He reportedly has a four year $112 million offer on the table from a mystery team. Who could it be? I talk about this in my Final Predictions article (check it out if you’re a fan of me talking about myself). Why else is this interesting? Al Horford is 33 years old and could easily have this offer from a number of teams. He doesn’t win you a championship but you can’t win one without someone like him (hooray for purposefully confusing sentences!). He raises a team’s floor ten fold and it would be incredibly hard to not field a top defense with him at the helm. Keep an eye out for this mystery team.
Possible Suitors: Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Denver