Going into the 2020-2021 NBA season, everything is going to look different: the arenas, the schedule, even the contracts/salary cap. This year’s free agency class is not the most star-studded of all time, but some decisions they make will still have the opportunity to shake up the league for a long time. Today, I will be ranking the top NBA free agents going into this season. If a player doesn’t land on this list, it’s not because of the skill set, it’s because of the lack of impact they will create despite wherever they sign. Some players are just more valuable than others.
#1 Anthony Davis
This should not be a big surprise to anyone. AD is a generational talent in a league where dominant big men are hard to come by. This year he averaged 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists, along with shooting 50% from the field. Keep in mind, he was the second star on the Lakers, that is just a completely dangerous site for the rest of the league. He already announced that he is going to opt-out of his current contract and sign a long-term deal that will keep him in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.
Even though he didn’t really feel like a free agent in the first place, him staying in Los Angeles will make then extremely hard to beat, especially with LeBron there who doesn’t seem to age at all. This decision will obviously change the rest of the league’s approach to free agency.
#2 Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram has emerged as a young star in this league and he only seems to be getting better; this year on the pelicans was a new scene for him. For most of the season, before Zion arrived on the scene, he was the #1 scoring option for this young team and he did not disappoint. After being traded from the Lakers last summer, he was certainly on a revenge tour to show the league what he can be, which is a star. He averaged 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. He also made his first all-star game. He’s not even close to his prime yet, so his growth is something to keep track of. He is now a free agent and is certainly going to be looking for a max deal somewhere. At the same time, this may turn some other teams away. The Pelicans will most likely be the team that will be willing to give him that contract. Either way, he is absolutely worth whatever money he is going to receive.
#3 DeMar DeRozan
Around two years ago, DeMar was traded to the spurs for Kawhi, in a trade that shocked the entire NBA world. He felt betrayed and let down by the Raptors, who just weeks before, committed to him for the future. That is the cold world of business, they saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.
DeMar has balled out for the most part on the Spurs, but what seems to be in question is the fit there. The Spurs seem to be going in a direction that they haven’t been used to for the better part of 20 years, which is a rebuild. It’s very possible that they get rid of both DeRozan and LeMarcus Aldridge this year and officially start that rebuild. It is hard to see a scenario where DeMar accepts his player option and stays with the Spurs. If he does indeed become an unrestricted free agent, look for contenders with cap space looking to add him, he would certainly be a great piece.
#4 Andre Drummond
Drummond has been on some pretty bad teams so far in his career. The Pistons and the Cavs are prime examples of bad teams in the NBA. He is also, to me, the best rebounder in all of basketball. He’s averaging 14 rebounds for his career and could be a major piece for a contending team. As of right now, everything is pointing towards him taking his player option and staying in Cleveland. If he doesn’t, there are some teams that I believe should go after him, which is the Celtics, the Raptors, and the Rockets. He will play a huge role for anyone who is looking to step into title contention.
#5 Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward is someone who has gotten the short end of the stick for a few years now. He is obviously known for his bad ankle injury in 2017 for the Celtics. Ever since then, he hasn’t been his regular self and the player that we saw in Utah. He has a player option in Boston but one would wonder how that would benefit either side really.
As of right now, Hayward seems to be the 4th option at most for this Celtics team. There are rumors that he and his wife recently purchased a home in Indiana, so maybe he has plans to sign with the Pacers where he would certainly be the first or second option there depending on what Oladipo decides to do. Hayward is still a very good player with tremendous upside, someone will try to land him.
Honorable Mentions (6-10)
- #6 Goran Dragic
- #7 Fred VanVleet
- #8 Montrezl Harrell
- #9 Bogdan Bogdanovic
- #10 Jae Crowder
These players all have tremendous upside and will make a great addition to any team they decide to join. Crowder and Dragic are fresh off an NBA finals appearance and took the very dominant Lakers to 6 games. Fred Van Fleet won an NBA title just about a year and a half ago for Toronto. He was a very big part of that team as well and any team that picks him up should expect to get some experience in the roster and could teach the young stars how to show up in big moments, which is what all teams need. Harrell was a very big part of this year’s Clippers team. They are going to look to resign him, but he may want more money than they can handle right now with the contracts of Paul George and Kawhi looming over the franchise, so that may be difficult to accomplish.
There are plenty of other free agents that can add to great teams already, but these names are going to have a very significant impact on how a big majority of the teams will look in the league next year.