So, here we are again. A month away from crowning the next NBA champion and starting another hectic free agency period. Similar to every year, there will be some major moves, some minor splashes, and the all-too-common “huh?” mistakes (i.e. 2005 Eddie Curry – 6 yr 60 million). Now while majors splashes have been made year after year, this year could potentially top them all. With top stars such as Chris Paul and Dwight Howard potentially on the move, this season could really shake up the NBA for the foreseeable future and bring a whole lot of entertainment to the NBA next season. With that said, lets take a look at the top free agents for this upcoming summer.
5. Andrew Bynum
I have to admit, this was a tough decision for me. While looking through the potential free agents, I was really torn between Al Jefferson, David West, and Bynum for the fifth spot. But after some consideration, I decided to go with Bynum. While he missed all of the 2012-13 season with injuries, he is arguably the best big man in the game when healthy. Averaging 18 ppg, 12 reb, and 2 blk in his last year with the Lakers, I think Andrew showed everyone what a force he could really be on the court. While he is raw, and the injury issues are a major problem, his age (25) and skill set definitely make him one of the top free agents this year. If he can show he’s healthy, teams will surely take a gamble and sign Bynum this offseason.
Potential Teams: 76ers, Hawks, Mavericks
4. Andre Iguodala
This again was a very tough choice. David West and Al Jefferson were my other two prospects, but I had to go with Iggy. Iguodala has been a great player for many years in this league. While he hasn’t been a superstar per-say, he has always been a great all-around player. Nearly averaging 13 ppg, 5 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, and 1 blk per game this season, he has definitely shown what he can provide for a team. While these numbers might not make you jump for joy, we have to consider that Iguodala played on the Nuggets and was one of nine players averaging close to twenty minutes per game this season. All in all, he is a great player, is healthy, and can definitely provide a great piece to a championship puzzle.
Potential Teams: Nuggets, Spurs, Mavericks
3. Josh Smith
When it comes to the top three, I feel as though most people have the same consensus. Josh Smith has been a great NBA player for many years now and will surely get a good deal this offseason. Playing a similar style to Iguodala with regards to the all-around game, Smith has been one of the cornerstones for the Atlanta Hawks for nine seasons now. Putting up a 18 ppg, 8 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, and 2 blk stat line this season, Smith has really formed into his playing style and I feel as though he really knows who he is as a player and is excelling. While he might not be your go-to guy or star player, he will definitely be a player defenses will have to prepare for and try to contain. If he can just improve his FT percentage (52%), Smith could become a force when it comes to crunch time.
Potential Teams: Bucks, Nets, Celtics
2. Dwight Howard
So here we are, down to two. With the second spot, I decided to go with Dwight Howard. Howard has been in the NBA spotlight ever since his debacle with the Orlando Magic last season. He’s been the best center in the league for a while now but he needs to remain healthy. He’s had a multitude of back and shoulder issues that have hindered his play, especially this past season. But when healthy, Dwight has shown the pure low-post dominance we haven’t seen since the Shaqtus Laker days. He’s led the league in rebounding five times, in blocks twice, and has shot over 57% in almost all of his years in the NBA. His strength and athleticism are almost unimaginable for a 6’11 center, and his personality is one that will make any fan base delighted to have him on board. If Dwight can prove to be healthy and start hitting free throws more consistently, there is no doubt he will change a teams culture in the future.
Potential Suitors: Lakers, Mavericks, Rockets
1. Chris Paul
Drum roll please. The last and top 2013 free agent on my list is none other than CPIII, Chris Paul of the LA Clippers. Paul is just a gamer. One of, if the not thee, best point guards in the league, Chris Paul has it all. He can pass, score, manage games, and also has a great personality and charisma. With the Clippers these past two seasons, he took them too the playoffs both years, and for the first time since 2005. During these years, he has posted around 18.5 ppg, 9.4 ast, and 2.5 stl per game. But what is really the hidden stat is that he manages the game so well and can turn on the scoring whenever his team is in need. Paul is really one of the purest point guards we have in the game today and he will most surely find a suitor that will pay him big money and give him a long contract.
Potential Suitors: Clippers, Mavericks, Lakers
Other Notable Free Agents: JR Smith, Al Jefferson, David West, Paul Millsap, Nate Robinson, Jarrett Jack