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2016 Top 15 Value NBA Unrestricted Free Agents

The NBA free agent season begins in less than 15 hours and the most sought after will be the likes of Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford and Nicolas Batum, all of which are expected to receive max offers from numerous suitors. 

With so many teams having ample salary cap space, a product of the continuously rising cap threshold, there will more money available than there’s elite talent in the open market so it will be difficult to find value. It being a seller’s market teams will have to over pay for the guy that they want in free agency, but there are a few players that might get overlooked during the initial rush for the free agents getting top billing. If a team comes hard and quick with the 2nd and 3rd tier of free agents they could get immense value at a time where that will be hard to come by.

Top Twenty Value Unrestricted Free Agents: 

Photo credit: Yahoo.com/sports
Photo credit: Yahoo.com/sports
  1. Kent Bazemore – Guard/Small forward – Atlanta Hawks
    • Age: 26 – entering 5th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.3 spg
    • 2015/16 salary: 2 million
    • Expected salary: 12-15 million per year
    • A solid 2 way guard/small forward that filled in nicely in the starting lineup for the Hawks this past season. He’s a plug and play player that fits just about any system. Can hit the deep shot at a decent clip, can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket modestly, defends his position well and is disruptive on the defensive end due to his length. Good anticipation and gets his hands on a lot of balls. Not a supestar player but great role player that could be had for about half of a max deal which would an immense value.
  2. Ian Mahinmi – Center – Indiana Pacers
    • Age: 29 – entering 9th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 9.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 53.6 FG%
    • 2015/16 salary: 4 million
    • Expected salary: 10-15 million per year
    • Bismack Biyombo and Festus Ezeli will be the most sought after centers in the free agency market after Horford and Whiteside; much of their notarity is due to their teams making deep playoff runs. A player that put up similar numbers to Biyombo and Ezeli and could come at a much bigger discount is Pacers’ center Mahinmi who is coming off his best season as a professional. The Pacers scored big in last season’s draft with rookie Myles Turner which is another reason that Mahinmi will be expendable and not get a big offer from his current team which will keep the bidding down.
  3. Solomon Hill – Guard/Small forward – Indiana Pacers
    • Age: 25 – entering 4th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 10.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.5 spg (all on per 36 mpg basis)
    • 2015/16 salary: 1.3 million
    • Expected salary: 8-12 million per year
    • Still young and possessing upside Hill could outperform the cost of his next contract. Hill came into the league as a hard nosed, atheltic 3 that had limited offensive game, but he showed in last year’s playoffs that he has some potential as an increasingly popular 3 and D guy. Hill knocked down 57.9 percent of his 3s in 7 games for the Pacers in the playoffs. Although, Hill is a career 32.5 percent 3 point shooter he did shoot 37.5 percent in his college career which combined with his showing the playoffs shows great potential and a good bargain.
  4. Pau Gasol – Forward/Center – Chicago Bulls
    • Age: 35 – entering 16th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 16.5 ppg, 11 rpg, 2 bpg, 4.1 apg
    • 2015/16 salary: 7.4 million
    • Expected salary: 7-12 million per year
    • Gasol is no longer the consistent producer he was when he was winning championships with the Lakers but has shown in his 2 years with the Bulls that he is still an effective all-around center that can be an intragal part of a playoff and even championship contending team. Gasol is coming off a bargain price of 7.4 million per year and expect him to go for around the same amount as he will be looking to latch on with a team that is in win-now mode, such as the San Antonio Spurs.
  5. Evan Turner – forward – Boston Celtics
    • Age: 27 – entering 7th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.4 apg
    • 2015/16 salary: 3.4 million
    • Expected salary: 6-10 million per year
    • Turner never lived up to the number 2 overall draft position but has turned himself into a vital role player with his efficient all-around offensive game. Turner was a big part of the Celtics surprising 48 win season, contributing as part of their 2nd unit. Turner improved on his regular season numbers by averaging 13 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the Playoffs for the Celtics. Turner’s year earned him 5th place in the 6th Man of the Year voting.
  6. Joakim Noah – Center – Chicago Bulls
    • Age: 31 – entering 10th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 8.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1 bpg
    • 2015/16 salary: 13.4 million
    • Expected salary: 6-12 million
    • Noah is coming off a down year where he lost his starting job and missed 53 games to injury so this is the time where a team can land his services for a discount. Noah is just 2 seasons removed from his Defensive Player of the Year season and will look to recapture some of that play with a team that has an ideal starting role. Noah could look to take on a short term deal in order to show the league this season that he still has a lot left and then hit the market again in 2017 to cash out on a bigger, long term deal.
  7. Ish Smith – Point Guard – Philadelphia 76ers
    • Age: 27 – entering 7th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 14.7 ppg, 7 apg, 1.3 spg
    • 2015/16 salary: 947k
    • Expected salary: 6-8 million per year
    • Ish has played for 9 teams in just 7 seasons in the NBA but finally was able to find a role on a team that provided significant playing time. Possibly the quickest player in the league that can get to the basket at will; more than 50 percent of his shots come from 10 feet or less. Ish is also a good rebounder for a point guard and especially for a guy that is under 6 feet tall. What will keep Ish from ever being a starter on a good team is his size which creates defensive issues and that he isn’t a great outside shooter, but he can score and change the pace of a game which is valuable for an off the bench player.
  8. Gerald Henderson – Guard/Small Forward – Portland Trailblazers
    • Age: 28 – entering 8th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 8.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 35.3 3pt%
    • 2015/16 salary: 6 million
    • Expected salary: 6-8 million per year
    • Henderson improved his deep shot by shooting a career high 35 percent from 3. Henderson has always been an active, hard working defender but just an adequate offensive player. A team can always use a swing player that can defend and at the very least needs to be defended on the offensive end which is right where Henderson fits. Henderson can start on a team that’s loaded at the other 4 positions or be a valuable piece on a 2nd unit as he was for the Blazers last season. Henderson has value in the 6 to 8 million dollar price range.
  9. DJ Augustin – Point Guard – Denver Nuggets
    • Age: 28 – entering 9th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 11.6 ppg, 4.7 apg, 41.1 3pt%
    • 2015/16 salary: 3 million
    • Expected salary: 6-8 million per year
    • Augustin had a bounce back year with the Nuggets last season, backing up rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, but saw a lot of crunch time playing alongside him towards the end of the season. Only averaged 23.5 minutes per game so his year end numbers do not tell the story of how effective he was on the court. On a per 36 minutes basis, Augustin averaged 17.8 points, 7.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He would be a valuable addition as a reserve point guard and will command a very reasonable 6 to 8 million dollar salary.
  10. Brandon Jennings – Point Guard – Orlando Magic
    • Age: 26 – entering 8th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 13.9 ppg, 8 apg (36 mins per game)
    • 2015/16 salary: 8.3 million
    • Expected salary: 4-8 million
    • Jennings is coming off an injury plagued season where he only saw 48 games of action. Still only 26 years old Jennings has time to recover and return to his near all-star level form from his first season with Detroit. Jennings has never been an efficient player but can hit the deep shot at a decent clip, can get in the lane and playmake. Jennings is a risk because of his recent injury history but there’s opportunity to get great value with this reduced price tag.
  11. Ramon Sessions – Point Guard – Washington Wizards
    • Age: 30 – entering 10th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 9.9 ppg, 2.9 apg, 47.3 FG%
    • 2015/16 salary: 2.1 million
    • Expected salary: 4 to 6 million per year
    • Sessions has played for 7 teams in his career but he hasn’t bounced around because of bad play, just bad fit or timing. Sessions played well for the Wizards last season in a reserve role. Still one of the quickest point guards in the league who can get to the rim or elicit shots at the free throw line. Sessions struggles at hitting the outside and defending his position consistently, but at around the mid-level salary would be a great value as a back up point guard.
  12. Jeremy Lin – Combo guard – Charlotte Hornets
    • Age: 27 – entering 7th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 11.7 ppg, 3 apg, 3.2 rpg, 3.7 fta per gm.
    • 2015/16 salary: 2.1 million
    • Expected salary: 6 to 8 million per year
    • Lin declined his player option of 2.2 million for the upcoming season and with good reason after a solid season with the Hornets. Lin fit in nicely as Kemba Walker’s back up, providing a scoring punch off the bench. Lin is still streaky but his on is still more frequent than his days when he is off. One thing that Lin can do exceptionally well is get in the teeth of a defense and create contact which produce easy scoring opportunities from the charity stripe. Lin looks to get a nice raise from his 2015/16 salary but still within a reasonable amount to make him a great value.
  13.  Courtney Lee – Shooting Guard – Charlotte Hornets
    • Age: 30 – entering 9th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 9.6 ppg, 45.4 FG%, 37.8 3pt%
    • 2015/16 salary: 5.6 million
    • Expected salary: 6 to 8 million per year
    • Lee isn’t a sexy name but every team in the NBA could use a player like him. Lee was part of the suprisingly good ensemble cast in Charlotte that won 48 games last season. Lee is one of the better defenders at his position, being able to guard both the 1 and 2 positions. Lee can also knock down the 3 at an efficient rate. Lee is projected to garner interest after a few of the big names come off the board and will net somewhere around a mid-level deal similar the one he is coming off of this season which is still a great deal for his services.
  14. Brandon Bass – Power Forward – Los Angeles Lakers
    • Age: 31 – entering 12th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 7.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 54.9 FG%
    • 2015/16 salary: 3 million
    • Expected salary: 4-6 million per year
    • Bass had a disappointing season but with the increase with the salary cap and the number of teams having money to spend it was smart move on his part to decline his 3 million dollar player’s option for the upcoming season. Bass is still a solid role player that can help any win-now team, with this energetic play, solid defense and ability to hit a mid-range shot. Can play both the 4 and 5 position when teams go small.
  15. David Lee – Power Forward/Center – Dallas Mavs
    • Age: 33 – entering 12th season
    • Key 2015/16 stats: 7.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 53.1 FG%, 16.5 mpg
    • 2015/16 salary: 14.4 million
    • Expected salary: 4 to 6 million per year
    • Even at the age of 33 and after 11 long seasons in the league Lee can still board and get buckets in a short period of time. Last season with the Mavs and Celtics Lee averaged 17 points and 12.2 rebounds on per 36 minutes basis. Lee is coming off the last year of his massive 80 million dollar contract and while he wont fetch anywhere near that amount this off-season he will get a mid-level contract offer from teams looking for a veteran presence and scoring punch.

*stats and salary information taken from basketball-reference.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer & NBA fan who’s been hooked since the days of Magic v Bird. Love basketball debates without it ending in a knife fight. My BBall nickname: “Todo El Dia” (All Day.) Hit me up on Twitter @fullcourtfern or Instagram: @raining3sdotcom