2014 NBA Free Agency: Ranking the top 40 free agents
A look at the best available free agents in the summer of LeBron 2.0.
Free agency begins July 1st, as teams can contact players and agents to officially speak with them about contracts (but cannot sign them until July 10). To get you ready, here's a look at the top 40 free agents in this class.
1. LeBron James, F, Miami Heat
Weaknesses: Constantly hounded by the ghost of Michael Jordan. Carries with him the burden of being the most divisive figure in the NBA. Can overthink possessions.
Analysis: The best player on the planet. Worth infinitely more than anything he will command on the open market. The only player available to instantly make your team a contender just by his presence. An all-time talent with strong instincts, ability, and leadership. Cute kids, too.
2. Chris Bosh, F, Miami Heat
Strengths: Defense, range shooting, post play, floor spacing, pick and roll coverage, basketball IQ, mobility, positional flexibility, will to win.
Weaknesses: Ball-handling, hasn't played as primary offensive weapon in several years. Struggles with double-teams. Can vanish from games in the presence of better players. Not an elite rebounder.
Analysis: A two-time champion power forward with a highly evolved and versatile skillset, Bosh would instantly transform a playoff team into a conference contender, and a non-playoff team into a contender.
3. Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas Mavericks
Strengths: Offensive everything, leadership, underrated rebounder, post scoring, perimeter scoring, floor balance.
Weaknesses: Defense, mobility (age), managing double-teams (age), possible need for minutes reduction
Analysis: Nowitzki is going nowhere. He has literally laughed at the idea he would sign somewhere other than Dallas. But in the interest of "anything can happen," we'll put him here. Obviously adding him to a contender changes the makeup of any team.
4. Carmelo Anthony, F, New York Knicks
Strengths: Scoring, rebounding, floor balance. Can draw fouls and attack from multiple spots on the floor. Effective as a trailer three option or on the pull-up. Dramatically changes the floor balance.
Weaknesses: Defense. He's improved in this area considerably but continues to lack great effort. His best efforts yield "pretty good" to "not bad" results, particularly in help situations. Relatively inefficient considering his supreme usage. Ball-stopper. A willing but not gifted passer who is reluctant to trust the offense. Walks the confident/arrogant line as much as any player in the league.
Analysis: Anthony makes your team better. It's an arguable point, but ultimately, what he gives you in scoring, rebounding, and how he can pressure a defense into submission is too valuable. He's a smart player who too often succumbs to his worst instincts. Within the right system, as we've said for a decade, he could be a top-three player in this league.
5. Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors
Strengths: Absolute bulldog on both sides of the ball. Relentlessly aggressive. Able to get to the rim and draw fouls. Has developed into a quality shooter from mid-range and three. Can run an offense or lead one as best available weapon. Quick, fast, agile, and strong. Total competitor.
Weaknesses: Gets tunnel vision if a superior player isn't on the floor. Can try and force the issue too often, especially later in games. Struggles to pace himself. Quality defender against guards but lacks size to guard multiple positions effectively. Reputation as a bit of an attitude problem, particularly due to clashes with coaching staffs. Carries a huge chip on his shoulder, which is good and bad.
Analysis: Lowry is the kind of player who if signed as the third-best player on your team, transforms you into a borderline contender at this point. He's meaner than hell on the court and carries the respect of his teammates. Really started to fit into the Raptors' culture last season, showing great maturity. He's the best available point guard and the gap between him and the rest of the field is wide.
6. Eric Bledsoe, PG, Phoenix Suns
Strengths: A bolt of energy. Athletic as all get-out, even after knee surgery last year. Able to chase down blocks in transition, then grab the rebound, race the floor, and finish at the rim. Showed last year he has No. 1-option offensive talent, even if Goran Dragic was the No. 1 weapon. Defensively rabid, able to pressure guards full-court, switch and recover in pick and roll coverage. Improved outside shooter. Pure freak athlete.
Weaknesses: Can face issues with sustained offense over the course of a game. Still learning to pace himself. Has had multiple leg injuries over the past two seasons. Quiet, still learning to be a leader on the floor and in the locker room. Can play two-guard but isn't a natural fit.
Analysis: Bledsoe has an attack engine like few players in the league. When he gets in a rhythm, he can unleash a series of plays that completely alters the feel of the game. He showed No. 1 option ability last year. Phoenix intends to re-sign him, it holds his rights in restricted free agency and can match any offer. It would take a substantive offer to convince the Suns not to re-sign him through sign-and-trade.
7. Greg Monroe, F/C, Detroit Pistons
Strengths: Severely underrated offensively. Ambidextrous finisher with touch and moderate range. Good understanding of angles for attack. Underrated basketball IQ that could develop into a solid mid-post passing weapon. Tough finisher in traffic, good attitude, and quality all-around offensive orbit piece. Quality rebounder who is often overlooked based on Andre Drummond's freakish numbers. Before Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings arrived, he was a consistent force, putting in effort and production game after game, albeit for a losing team.
Weaknesses: Physically limited defensively, and his effort doesn't help matters. Has never played under quality coaching and is behind the curve in team concepts as a result. Doesn't know how to win on account of being stuck in a toxic situation for his entire career. Poor defender and can be overwhelmed on the glass by focused efforts. Can be a black hole at times.
Analysis: Monroe could be in line for a max contract offer in free agency if his powerful agent, David Falk, gets his way. What Monroe honestly needs is a fresh start. He was never the problem in Detroit through all of the franchise's nonsense, but was also never part of the solution. It's hard to believe that he simply can't be a quality defender given his strength and intelligence, but unless he finds a situation that can really engage him, he may wind up as very David-Lee-ish. Needs an opportunity to escape the pit of nightmares in Detroit.
8. Lance Stephenson, G/F, Indiana Pacers
Strengths: There is nothing he can't do. Defend 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s, switch in pick and roll, defend guards and intercept passes to roll men. Developing perimeter scorer. Strong, fast, and athletic, able to get to the rim and draw fouls. Aggressive, confident, and an emotional fireplug. A nightly triple-double threat and a highly underrated passer. Has a star physique, mindset, and ability set. Entered the league as a lost cause, learned from Larry Bird, committed himself to hard work and earned minutes for a title contender despite his attitude issues. Wants. To. Win.
Weaknesses: Building reputation as a complete lunatic. Prone to emotional outbursts and struggles to contain his emotions, particularly when it comes to competitive environments. Can be reckless with fouls when provoked, has a powder keg mentality at times. Drifts too far in help defense and can leave spot-up shooters open on assignment trying to make a play. The same aggressiveness that unleashes him is the same aggressiveness that can produce turnovers, bad shots, bad decisions, technicals, and flagrant fouls. Had off-court issues early in his career.
Analysis: Stephenson is a huge risk, either way. Passing on him means letting a potential top-ten talent, legitimately, slide on by. Taking him means giving what is likely to be a considerable contract to someone with major attitude issues. Do you want to empower Stephenson, knowing that he's a powder keg? Still, he is extremely talented and the fact that he managed to get Larry Bird to buy into him should mean something. Bird's not exactly known for his patience with knuckleheads, and Stephenson's a knucklehead.
9. Chandler Parsons, F, Houston Rockets
Strengths: Has 'human torch' potential. When he gets hot from the perimeter, he can light up the game and dramatically alter the outcome. A big-time athlete who can run the floor and attack the rim as well as he can shoot from the perimeter. Great understanding of space and timing. A smart player who knows how and when to cut at times when the defense focuses too much on his perimeter shot, and how to create windows of space to find a look. A team leader and quality character guy who has shown initiative despite his contract and standing.
Weaknesses: Struggles with defensive trust of backside help, always trying to do too much. Still learning how to remain focused and balance his help. Not a smart defender. No post-game to speak of and not a creator with the ball. Can disappear for long stretches if properly defended with little to no adjustment.
Analysis: Parsons was a steal for years for the Rockets, and they've maneuvered to maintain the ability to match any offer for him if necessary. He's fast, athletic, can shoot the lights out, isn't afraid of the big shot, helped recruit Dwight to Houston, is well-liked by teammates and has great upside. He's not a No. 2 on a title team, but there's no reason he can't be that third guy.
10. Dwyane Wade, G, Miami Heat
Strengths: Still D-Wade. Lethal in space, able to shift his body to create freedom of movement. Unbelievable touch with the ball, able to hit floaters, runners, mid-range pull-ups and layups all while off-balance and shifting around defenders. When he's not worn down, still has killer quickness. An all-time guy at drawing contact inside. Underrated defensively when his batteries are fully charged and he's not focused on calls. Strong team leader and quality teammate who understands what the game calls for in clutch situations. One of the smartest superstars you'll ever find.
Weaknesses: Everything has eroded. Completely ran out of battery despite extensive rest last season. Has lost much of his first-step burst. Needs to lose weight and increase conditioning to help with quickness, health, endurance, and defense. Constantly, and I mean constantly complains to officials instead of getting back defensively. No longer has energy, willingness, or strength to navigate through screens to stay with shooters. Can hardly change direction defensively at all anymore. At this point you have to wonder about how much hunger he's got left in him.
Analysis: Wade's returning to Miami. He'll come back for another contract, maybe two depending on his conditioning, retire eventually, and then join the Heat front office in a similar role to what Alonzo Mourning has done for the team. He's not going anywhere. But if for some reason Miami just decided not to pay him, he'd still help several teams. Any of the three Texas teams could use him, just from an experience standpoint. There are many nights when he will look like Wade. There are just too many when he doesn't look like he can play at all.
11. Luol Deng, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Strengths: Versatile offensive weapon, able to create his own shot in the pick and roll, attack off the cut, and sneak inside for scoring opportunities. Solid-not-great perimeter shooter. Terrific defender who is two seasons removed from being arguably the best perimeter defender in basketball. Strong in the post, quick on the edge, and long enough to contain on the perimeter defensively. Savvy, intelligent player who raises the collective basketball IQ on the floor. Decent rebounder. Has long sought to disprove the idea that he's soft. Will play through any ailment he can without risking further injury. Tough as nails.
Weaknesses: Endurance is a legitimate concern at his age after years of grueling, ridiculous minutes under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago. Not an elite shooter and could decline with age and injury. Not someone you lean on for offense anymore. Seeking major contract to finish his career. Despite accolades, failed to adjust to Cleveland and didn't make his teammates better.
Analysis: Deng is everything several teams need. Houston, Oklahoma City, Miami for starters all need a player who combines his athleticism, toughness, defense, and scoring ability. The question is how much money he's going to demand and whether his best days are behind him. Deng is the ultimate role player in this free agency class.
12. Gordon Hayward, F, Utah Jazz
Strengths: Jack of all trades with considerable upside. Still developing passing and rebounding skills. Natural leader with good scoring instincts. Good athlete whose top-end speed can catch defenders off guard. Quality teammate, low maintenance player who wants to win.
Weaknesses: Master of none. Isn't elite in any one area. Has never made huge strides in passing, rebounding, scoring, or defense. Can be overwhelmed physically by bigger players, caught napping by smarter ones. Makes your team better but what's his long-term role? Has yet to show a willingness to take over the game and always seems to be waiting for someone else to carry out what needs to be done.
Analysis: Hayward is an interesting case, especially given where the Jazz are at in their development cycle. The idea was that Hayward would take a big step forward last year and be ready to emerge as the best player on a young team this next season. It never happened and now he could wind up elsewhere after Utah declined to extend him. He's good enough to demand eight figures per year, but can you win with him at that tier? He's yet to separate himself from his peers.
13. Marcin Gortat, C, Washington Wizards
Strengths: The most well-rounded center in this free agency class. Strong as an ox, capable of bursts of power to finish inside that surprise opponents. Has refined his pick and roll/pop game to within an inch of its life, and rarely finds himself out of position on either end. A tough defender and monster rebounder. Smart player who teammates respond to and gives great effort and energy consistently. Never takes a play off. Reliable mid-range shot from face-up, reliable running hook shot, good-not-great footwork in the post and is almost never a liability for you on the floor. Tells it how it is and teammates and coaches respond positively to it.
Weaknesses: Not a "give him the ball and get out of his way" scorer. Can get tripped up in traffic defensively. Super-athletes can overwhelm him defensively, but he'll make them work. Can get caught up too much in weakside coverage. Struggles with crafty rebounders.
Analysis: Gortat was a home-run acquisition for the Wizards last year, and they want to bring him back. He's a smart player, he's tough, he's versatile, and he's well-liked. The guy genuinely wants to be a part of a winning environment. You have to start him and you have to involve him, but if you do, he'll contribute. He's a veteran and a pro who isn't dominant but is extremely reliable. He makes your team better, but how much do you pay for a guy who's not going to totally change the game?
14. Trevor Ariza, F, Washington Wizards
Strengths: He's a survivor, he's not going to give up. He's going to work harder. Keep on surviving. Has come back from potentially falling off the NBA planet to be a major part of conference contending teams. Is one of the best contract-year players you'll ever find. Is enjoying a resurgence in perimeter shooting that if sustainable, can totally overhaul an offense. A long, versatile defender who can take point in the pick and roll to defend the ball handler or cover shooters. Recovers extremely well and closes out like an F-15. Strong defender in the post and a savvy player off the cut. His ability to stick in this league despite statistical dips shows his character and work ethic.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent shooter. If he's not spreading the floor for you, he becomes a liability, because there's almost nothing else he can do for you. Extremely solvable with quality defense. The last time he played well in a contract year (2008-09), the resulting contract (a 5-year, $33 million pact with the Rockets) was a near-disaster (he lasted one season in Houston). He's more a product of the system than an influence upon it.
Analysis: If you believe Ariza's shooting has evened out, and that he can benefit from your system, he can be a terrific addition. He's relatively consistent all-around, a veteran, professional, and has been a part of some great defenses. He's this high on this list because he has very little down side.
15. Pau Gasol, F, Los Angeles Lakers
Strengths: Smooth as silk. A jumper like the tears of a baby sea otter, the post game of an elk dancing through a field. Giraffe-neck arms able to snatch rebounds and tap in scores by virtue of simply being higher than everyone else. Passes like poetry, able to hit every conceivable type of pass you could use. Well-liked by teammates and media, and a reputable name to add as a free agent.
Weaknesses: Old. Broken down. Painfully passive defensively. Can be muscled over, whipped around, dunked on, ripped through, and generally taken to town by anyone with muscle or skill. Serious endurance issues including feet that look like they're on sale at your local butcher shop next to the haggis. Slow to get up and down the floor. Pouts when the system isn't to his liking, and really only wants to be coached by Phil Jackson. Needs a big market to appease his cultural sensibilities. Pleasant, and sometimes that's not a good thing.
Analysis: Gasol's game is still beautiful, he's just not able to play it that often and the likelihood of this next contract turning to poison is pretty great. He's going to demand one last large contract, but it shouldn't be for more than two years. And you'd better have a rim protector next to him.
16. Isaiah Thomas, PG, Sacramento Kings
Strengths: His quick is quicker than your guy's quick. Plays with an extreme chip on his shoulder after being Mr. Irrelevant in his draft class. Able to slide to the rim in traffic and find those gaps when the defense takes their eyes off him for a second. Killer's mentality. Excellent shooter from everywhere on the floor. Can create his own look. When things are going well and he has reason to trust the offense, can run it, something which should improve as he gets older. Oozes moxie.
Weaknesses: Unable to ride Space Mountain at Disney World due to size limitation. Defenders can shoot over him, back him down in the post, muscle past him, and otherwise overpower him. He's solid defensively but not great and doesn't have elite instincts to make up for the lack of size. Not a true playmaker at heart. Sometimes believes in himself too much, to the detriment of the offense.
Analysis: The 'Pizza Man' is a guy you want on your team. The question is whether he's best as a starter or as a bench weapon. In Sacramento, there have been weeks when he's looked like the best player in the league, no kidding. He has uncanny scoring ability and a mentality that can change a game entirely. But the size is an issue. Something to remember here: As Thomas learns the veteran point guard tricks to running an offense -- running clock, exploiting a defense -- it's going to make him that much more dangerous. A young and killer Isaiah Thomas is great. A wise and crafty one might be better.
17. Shaun Livingston, PG, Brooklyn Nets
Strengths: Great size for a point guard. Excellent touch on his passes, he can put them right where they need to be. Looks up for the lob in transition. Crafty as all get out. Strong post game, able to hit the turnaround jumper or spin move around defenders. Decent perimeter shooter and quick to punish a defense for sagging off of him; can find shots in space off-ball. Knows how to run an offense. Plays with a true love of the game and has mental toughness that's rare. Self-aware following injuries, and uses it to his advantage.
Weaknesses: Some durability issues. Top-end speed has been affected. Can't create his own shot vs. top-level defenses. Some defensive question marks, but nothing too bad. It is impossible not to feel concern that the knee is a ticking time bomb, no matter how far he gets away from the injury.
Analysis: Livingston was the Nets' best overall point guard last year. He outshone Deron Williams for long stretches. He has good chemistry with Brook Lopez and can feed the post. The basic, run-an-offense stuff with Livingston are so valuable. It's almost worth it just to have him on roster for what he's able to do that so many players can't, because you don't have to worry about him doing it. Livingston doesn't alter your team, but he does put your mind at ease about whatever role he fills.
18. Paul Pierce, F, Brooklyn Nets
Strengths: Unkillable. Will never fail to respond when challenged, and if he goes down, it's because the shots aren't falling. Has managed to discover ways to find looks, particularly threes, just by catching the defense off-guard. Strength and savvy enable him to remain a quality rebounder, and he's always looking to make the right pass, despite his history of being the shot-maker. Can carry your offense about one night per week during the regular season. Haunts Knicks fans, so any time you go to the Garden with him on your team, you automatically have an edge. No player possesses the mental resolve of The Truth.
Weaknesses: So much of his game is gone due to age. The elbow pull-up jumper is just cobwebs on a door at this point. His three-point release is like a trebuchet rearing back to launch. He's still trusted by coaches to contain perimeter threats; if there's not an elite shot- blocker behind him, any wing with a pulse is going to turn him into toast. Post game is eroding due to maneuverability issues. His layups feel more like small miracles than highlights. Plays more four at this point but can't defend any four with length; they'll just shoot over him. Father Time is standing at the doorway, tapping on his watch.
Analysis: If Pierce is on your team, it means you're a contender. Those are the only teams he'll play for at this point; he won't waste his time. And Pierce can still fill it up. There will be nights he may be your best player. The magic's not gone, it's just fading. But if you bring him on, especially for the dollars he'll demand, you had better have options to cover for him defensively when he's on the floor, and a hierarchy to keep him from having to take on too much.
19. Vince Carter, G, Dallas Mavericks
Strengths: Remarkably still shows regular flashes of being amazing. Can hit from the perimeter to stretch the floor and punish poor closeouts by taking opponents off the dribble to his sweet spots. Unbelievably, has morphed into a terrific rebounder. Still fast, and can still get up to throw it down (though he'll hit the rim a few times during the season). Extremely smart, will draw fouls on sloppy defenders until they're gone. Punishes defenses for ignoring his impact. Revered as a teammate on and off the floor.
Weaknesses: Fading athleticism. Struggles to create his own shot, and can't get loose off screens like he used to. Will have long stretches of irrelevance and cold shooting. A tough defender but can't be used for long stretches. Still has durability issues.
Analysis: This version of Vinsanity may be the most fun one we've seen since maybe Toronto, definitely New Jersey. Carter was a huge reason for the Mavericks' success last year and has aged surprisingly well given how his game is built and his injury issues. He makes your team better and is a mentor for the younger players. To see him giving the effort and production defensively and in rebounding at this point is astounding, and his shooting just kills opponents when they sag off him.
20. Boris Diaw, F, San Antonio Spurs
Strengths: Unbelievable versatility. There is nothing he can't do. Gifted, brilliant passer. Strong post scorer. Quality perimeter shooter. Able to drive from face-up and finish off offensive rebounds. Works well out of the high post. Cerebral defender and a willing passer. Never tries to do too much.
Weaknesses: Not the quickest of guys. Has been brilliant in San Antonio, but few players are who they are with San Antonio, outside of San Antonio. A bit overrated defensively due to how much help the Spurs bring in attacking the dribble of opponents and the rim protection provided. He too often passes it, which means he often times will overlook opportunities. It cannot be overstated that his problem in Charlotte was not just injuries, but genuine struggles in effort and ability. Major risk of falling off outside of the Lone Star State.
Analysis: Diaw nearly won Finals MVP. That sentence is unbelievable, but true. The Spurs' 'beautiful offense' was the product of their system, but Diaw's part in that system took them to a higher level. A two-year, $18 million deal here is not out of the question, but any team that tries to steal him from San Antonio better understand how much of a risk it is that he won't be the same guy.
21. Ray Allen, G, Miami Heat
Strengths: The ultimate professional. Has an assassin's mentality in his approach, dedication, and performance. Cold, clinical, calculating. The greatest three-point shooter of all time (so far). Unparalleled commitment to conditioning, practice, shooting form, and execution. Hyper-aware of all things while on the court. Well-respected by teammates and a positive force in the community. If the defense over-commits to guarding him on the perimeter, can still slip loose and drive to the rim on occasion, provided the interior defense isn't high-level. Has arguably the greatest shot in NBA history on his resume'.
Weaknesses: Losing his will to keep going. That was evident from talking to him in the Finals. Starting to really struggle with perimeter defense. Can't run the floor at the level he once could. Can become sullen when he doesn't like the position he's in. If the defense isn't concerned about bigger threats, can't create his own shot. Starting to struggle at the rim.
Analysis: Allen will only sign with a contender, and it's likely he either comes back to Miami or retires. He's still a crack three-point shooter, but he's aware that the end of the line is coming. His conditioning allows him to still perform at a high level, but there's a real concern about when he might hit a cliff. May need a reduced role next season.
22. Avery Bradley, G, Boston Celtics
Strengths: A vicious defender. Able to pressure opponents full-court into mistakes. Tough player that has injury issues but is willing to play through pain. Made major, major strides last season to improve from the perimeter, and it worked. Became a consistent spot-up three-point threat. Lost a little bit defensively due to system adjustment, the talent around him, and minutes load, but still very good. Doesn't ask for much, gives everything.
Weaknesses: Needs another year to prove he can really make shots. Cannot create his own shot. Struggles with multiple defenders. Mistake-prone. Needs a big, offensively talented wing next to him to take the pressure off. The same defensive pressure that can wreak havoc on a team turns into simple foul trouble if the official isn't having it. Easily frustrated. Struggled overall in a bigger role last season, and his durability issues are a constant problem. Huge injury risk.
Analysis: Bradley had an odd season. He struggled overall but improved in the areas he needed to, specifically shooting. We were all skeptical he could develop that perimeter shot, and he did it, and yet, overall, he had problems on both sides of the ball. Whether it was the scheme adjustment under a new coach, the exhaustion of more minutes or a bigger offensive role, he wasn't the same guy despite improving in skill areas. There's good reason to think that he can take a step forward with more talent around him, and that he's poised for a big jump next season. The problem is trying to figure out how much his maximum defense is worth.
23. Shawn Marion, F, Dallas Mavericks
Strengths: Still Matrix. When the defense doesn't commit to him, he makes it pay with his weird-ass jumper and touch around the rim. Can score in the post vs. 3's and take 4's to the perimeter. An excellent rebounder still and overall remains a very solid plus on defense. A consummate pro and a guy who still makes a very strong positive impact on the team. No durability issues to speak of, he's always been in terrific shape.
Weaknesses: The legs just aren't there anymore. Most of his athleticism is gone and while that previously meant his fast breaks and dunks, it's starting to affect his ability to contain on the perimeter. Becomes more and more earthbound and more and more of a defensive four. The shot shows some worrisome signs of decline as well, and if he were to fall off a cliff, it could get ugly in a hurry.
Analysis: Marion is a veteran who can still give you quality minutes as a starter on the wing. He's not going to fill up a stat sheet like he used to but there were still nights when he'd pour in the points and rebounds like he was back in Phoenix. After Phoenix, in Miami and Toronto, he had serious problems, though, and if you're not a playoff team at least, he might not fully check in. Marion's worth a two-year deal at this point, but it's entirely contextual based on which team it is signing him.
24. Emeka Okafor, C, Phoenix Suns
Strengths: Considerably underrated on both sides of the ball. No, he's not the best center of his draft class (Dwight Howard) but Okafor was never bad. He just wasn't ever great. And there were years, most notably in New Orleans, when he was very good. Great length, and before the injury had the mobility to make quality rotations. Really tough to score on inside; strong as, well, an oak. Nice drop-hook and good activity on the glass.
Weaknesses: Major neck injury wiped out his entire season last year and there's no telling how he comes back. Can get lost on rotations from time to time and is prone to overcommitting. Never going to be a player you can give the ball to and trust him to go get you a bucket. Durability is a major concern.
Analysis: We don't know what kind of condition he's in, he's been pretty much a ghost since neck surgery. He could be unable to play for some time, he could be good to go. But regardless, if Okafor can play, he's a big man who can rebound and block shots, and those guys have value on the market, especially when they have a level head on their shoulders like Mek.
25. Rodney Stuckey, G, Detroit Pistons
Strengths: Big, strong, athletic guard. Showed real progress last season for the first time in a long time. Can run point if called upon, but better off as a two. Quick and aggressive, able to get into the teeth of the defense and draw contact. Stable, low-turnover guard that doesn't overextend himself or do too much.
Weaknesses: Can absolutely vanish. Three-point range is non-existent, shot 28 percent from three last year. Not a creator, and has struggled to find a role especially under high expectations. Won't dramatically change your team.
Analysis: Stuckey was, all things considered, the best Piston last year. That's not saying much, considering how much of a tire fire they were, but I was impressed with his aggressiveness and playmaking. He attacked in transition and made plays in traffic. He'd be superb in a sixth man role for a quality team.
26. Andray Blatche, F, Brooklyn Nets
Strengths: Can fill it up. Great scorer, and a decent defender you can keep on the floor. Long and athletic. Brings a lot of attitude to work, good and bad. Low turnover guy. If he gets it, the shot's going up.
Weaknesses: Huge questions about his professionalism dating back to days in Washington. With Brooklyn everything has been peachy, but would the situation unravel in less than ideal circumstances? Not a guy you can build offense for in a playoff setting. Not quite a role player but also definitely not a star, somewhere in-between. Defensively can get overwhelmed. At 27, not getting any better. Can take some absolutely horrible, no-good, Swaggy-P-on-a-Tuesday-in-February type bad shots.
Analysis: Blatche redeemed his career with Brooklyn. He's a veteran who can score off the bench and on some nights can actually carry your offense to a win. You just have to be careful of his bad habits on and off the court.
27. Patty Mills, PG, San Antonio Spurs
Strengths: Gets buckets. Quick as lightning. Resilient and worked his tail off to earn minutes in San Antonio. Willing passer in half-court sets, and has some nice touch on the ball. Grounded guy with a good head on his shoulders off the court. Has 'human torch' ability.
Weaknesses: Never met a shot he didn't like. Will toss up a PUJIT (pull-up jumper in transition) without hesitation. Can be overaggressive when the shot's falling and too passive when not. Widdle-biddle (5'11", 185).
Analysis: Mills is in line for that 'championship shine' money, making bank off the team structure he was put in. There's talk of him being made into a starting guard. He's bold, smart, and aggressive, but can too often devolve into chucking. Buyer beware, unless you have a strong coaching staff and system.
28. P.J. Tucker, F, Phoenix Suns
Strengths: Gritty as alleyway dirt. A big, strong defender who can seriously mess with a perimeter weapon. Gets in guys' heads. Sets the tone for his teammates in the toughness category. Improved three-point shooter who found ways to be effective offensively.
Weaknesses: Not a guy who's going to create on his own with the ball. Is his shooting sustainable (39 percent from three last year)? Guy bounced around for a long time, and is already 29. Can't do much offensively besides catch-and-shoot. Quite the talker on the court and in the locker room.
Analysis: Tucker was a revelation last year for Phoenix. The man they call 'Create-A-Player'(on account of his coming out of nowhere at age 29 to be a starter as if molded in a video game) was a beast for Phoenix last year. Without much of a resume, he might be had on the cheap especially if Phoenix goes young on the wing. He's a great value pickup here. Dude's tough.
29. Josh McRoberts, F, Charlotte Hornets
Strengths: Gives everything he has on every single play. Unbelievable athlete who can provide monster, game-changing plays in the form of dunks and blocks. Strong, explosive, and surprisingly skilled. Mean-ass beard. Not afraid to provide a hard foul. Stellar passer, particularly out of the pinch post. Improved hands and three-point shooting.
Weaknesses: Not a great scorer or a guy who can create on his own. Not exceptional in any one area. He's not a scorer, playmaker, shooter, rebounder, defender, anything. He just does a lot of different things. Lacks lateral quickness defensively to defend stretch fours. Can play wild and out of control at times given the amount of effort he brings. Struggles to pace himself. Food gets stuck in his beard.
Analysis: McBob (don't call him that) was fantastic for Charlotte last season, a real reason it made the playoffs. It's not that he dominated games or put in great production. He just helped them win in several areas. He should be a priority to re-sign for the Hornets, but if not, a contender could really use him. Miami, in particular, should see if he'll take a pay cut.
30. Nick Young, G, Los Angeles Lakers
Strengths: Scores. All the time. Can throw up an incredible amount of shots. Athletic, can get up. Will make a few great defensive plays from time to time. Loved by teammates for his light and breezy attitude. Killer Instagram game.
Weaknesses: Terrible, horrible, no-good, deplorable, disgusting, rotten, indefensible shot selection. Not a great defender, particularly mentally. Has never been part of a winning atmosphere outside of one year in LA. There's a reason he has bounced around so much. Will do things like "360 layups in traffic" in the middle of a competitive game. Pure gunner.
Analysis: Young is a fun player. He's versatile and entertains the crowd. Lots of personality. And he does score. Can he be part of a winning environment? That's the question.
31. Jordan Hill, F, Los Angeles Lakers
Strengths: Hustle and muscle.
Weaknesses: Still learning defense. Not a primary scoring option.
Analysis: Is Hill's ceiling Anderson Varejao? Varejao wasn't thought of as a star-type player for years in Cleveland, he was a set-up man. But Hill has some of the same skills and does produce. Put him on the floor and the production will come.
32. Greivis Vasquez, PG, Toronto Raptors
Strengths: Slippery. You don't realize he's going to get past you until he's got the ball off the glass headed for the rim. An unpredictable passer who disguises where he's sending the ball with body language really well. Surprisingly quick, agile, and can knock down shots. Brings a lot of heart and energy offensively.
Weaknesses: Turnover prone. Can get out of control very easily. Defensively a nightmare. Lacks lateral quickness, struggles with faster and bigger defenders. Not a great finisher or mid-range shooter. Very much a pure point.
Analysis: Vasquez has defied expectations and built himself into a reliable and useful backup point guard. He makes your team better, as long as you have better options when you need them.
33. C.J. Miles, G, Cleveland Cavaliers
Strengths: Can shoot, run an offense, basic utility guard stuff.
Weaknesses: Can't take over a game, some decision-making issues, can't press the defense into mistakes.
Analysis: A low-risk, high-quality reserve guard.
34. Steve Blake, PG, Golden State Warriors
Strengths: Shooter, quality passer, can run the offense, surprisingly good defender.
Weaknesses: Size is a problem, and he has to be hidden on secondary scoring threats. Some injury concerns.
Analysis: He makes your team better, but needs to be in the veteran backup role.
35. Devin Harris, PG, Dallas Mavericks
Strengths: Great defensive point guard. Can run an offense, make some shots, especially off the dribble.
Weaknesses: Never put together his considerable skill set outside of Dallas. Inconsistent. Some mistake issues. Injury concerns.
Analysis: Should have started from the moment he got healthy for Dallas last year. He can start in a pinch, but is great in combo-guard lineups off the bench.
36. Jerryd Bayless, G, Boston Celtics
Strengths: Quick to the rim. Not a crack three-point shooter but can hit from the outside and is improving in that in his career. Can run an offense and provide a spark. Good on-ball defender in space against point guards. Plays with a killer attitude and has a chip on his shoulder.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent help defender. Can get reckless. Gunner mentality at times. Needs to play a certain role as a bench sparkplug to be effective.
Analysis: Bayless has turned into a quality veteran point guard who helped Memphis but not enough for them to turn down an offer of Courtney Lee for him. He's quick and versatile, but not a guy you want on the floor for heavy minutes.
37. Aaron Brooks, PG, Denver Nuggets
Strengths: Terrific quickness. Can slip to the basket in transition, mid-transition, and in halfcourt. Has developed into a pretty good pro.
Weaknesses: Extremely small. Struggles to defend in the post. Gets caught on screens and sinks down to help too much. Not a great game manager or floor general. Has bounced from team to team to team for a reason.
Analysis: Brooks has bounced around for a reason, but he's worth a small, short-term deal to fill in as backup point guard.
38. Mike Miller, G/F, Memphis Grizzlies
Strengths: Still a remarkable shooter. Underrated defender and rebounder. Surprisingly durable after playing in all 82 games for Memphis last season. Smart veteran willing to take and make the clutch shot. Pure gym rat.
Weaknesses: Durability has been a concern historically. Struggles in space defending and has issues in rapid change of direction on defense in the event of offensive rebounds. Not getting any younger.
Analysis: Still a guy who makes your team better and had a terrific season with Memphis. Guy who makes "those" shots.
39. Mike Scott, F, Atlanta Hawks
Strengths: Explodes to the rim. Will dunk over and through people. Really developed into a true stretch four defensively last year. Can rebound a little bit.
Weaknesses: Not a great shooter. Can get distracted on both ends. Limited role player.
Analysis: A useful backup combo forward for use from the outside and in attacking from range.
40. Alan Anderson, F, Brooklyn Nets
Strengths: Confident quality shooter. Not a bad defender, bordering on good. Useful shooting guard utility player.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent. Can force the issue at times. Not a great ball-handler.
Analysis: Anderson started for the Nets at times last season, and can fill in capably, but isn't a major threat. Value signing, though.
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