2009 NBA Free Agent Round-Up
While the elite free agent star power of the 2010 free agent class is the one that gets all the hype, the 2009 free agent class has its fair share of starters and quality role players. I’ve broken the class down into three categories and given the categories a rough pecking order, needs of individual teams not withstanding:
- Young Talent: players 25 years older and younger, where you might be getting a starter, but you’re also taking upside into account.
- Prime Talent: players from ages 26-31, who should be in their athletic prime. You should be able to get 2-5 years out of them before age starts taking a toll on them and you should be signing more for what they are, than potential.
- Veteran Talent: players aged 32 and up. This is roughly the time when physical skills start threatening to diminish, so veterans are best for shorter-term goals and play-off pushes. (See: P.J. Brown, Robert Horry, Joe Smith, etc.)
* = Restricted Free Agent
** = Player option year or early termination option
Players not likely to opt for early termination like Jermaine O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are not listed.
Young Talent: up to Age 25:
Trevor Ariza (23 — 24 when the season begins) SG/SF: Ariza has 4 seasons under his belt and he’s about to turn 24. Since his rookie season, the book on him was good defender and good at attacking the basket, but very inconsistent outside shot (to be kind). As the play-offs approached, Ariza seemed to solidify his 3-point range and he’s a strong defender (top 10 in steals). Ariza is starting to turn the corner. So far, he’s been excelling as a role player in a tight system and is anywhere between the 3rd and 5th scoring option. If he continues progressing at this rate, he could be a legit 2nd option on a different squad, possibly a first option in a few years, while still being a lock-down defender.
*Big Baby Davis (23) PF: Big Baby showed the world a lot when Kevin Garnett went down. You might like a little more rebounding out of him, Big Baby showed he can score fairly consistently in the 15-20 point range and showed a nice mid-range game under pressure in the play-offs.
Paul Millsap (24) PF: Looked like a baby Karl Malone after Boozer went down. Scored 20+ points 14 times. Double digit rebounds 31 times. He only looks to get better.
*Charlie Villanueva (24 — 25 when the season begins) PF: Villanueva gets a lot of knocks for being soft, and he is a high post PF that can get away at the SF for short stretches. A scorer, not a rebounder, he’s probably best paired with a low-post center who commands a double team. But if you want a shooter at PF, Villanueava is a good, young option. Plus, with him being in Milwaukee, there are questions how much the team will want to spend and you always wonder how long a player with a soft rep. can co-exist with Scott Skiles.
*Linas Kleiza (24) SF: Klieza just seems to be a player everyone is interested in, but nobody wants to talk about. He’s well-rounded, has a decent outside shot and can play multiple positions in a pinch.
*Marcin Gortat (25) C: Gortat made himself some money in the play-offs and the Magic likely won’t be able to retain both Gortat and Turkoglu. Gortat is a good defender and rebounder. While he isn’t going to command a double-team in the post, if ignored he’s quite capable of running up some points, so he’s capable of keeping teams honest. Then again, Gortat showed enormous improvement over last year, so there might be more upside.
Brandon Bass (24) PF: A real bruiser of a forward, Bass is more of a scorer than a rebounder, but looks like he might grow into something close to double-double averages if he had starter minutes. He also makes his free throws, hitting at .867 last year. All this while being behind Nowitzki.
Von Wafer (23 — 24 when the season starts) SG: After bouncing around for a couple years, Wafer came into his own as a scorer when Tracy McGrady went down. Could step in and average 15-18 pts/game in the right system.
*Ramon Sessions (23) PG: Sessions was in a strange position this year, having to play stretches of shooting guard as the Bucks suffered a ridiculous numbers of injuries. His range could use a little work, but Sessions is a young offensive-oriented point.
*Nate Robinson (25) PG: Robinson is a very short, shoot-first point guard. That said, he was scoring at a 17.2 pts/game clip and doing it off the bench. Good for a transition-oriented team. Probably not your first choice for a half court, defensive-minded team.
*Raymond Felton (24) PG: Another scoring point guard, but Felton does rack up reasonable assist totals for scoring a bit (6.7/game). Felton’s an interesting prospect for the Bobcats. At first it looked like Larry Brown wanted him dumped, but amid late season injuries, he started to fit in. 3-point shot needs some work, though. Someone will pick him up.