Top Unrestricted Free Agent Big Men
#1 – Kevin Garnett – re-upped with the Boston Celtics
The second best center in the NBA last season. A terrific defensive player, a solid rebounder, one of the best passing big men of all-time, an excellent high post player and solid face up and low post player.
#2 – Tim Duncan – staying in San Antonio
Still a top ten center in the NBA. A solid defender, well above average rebounder and an excellent offensive facilitator.
A lot like Garnett, Duncan causes havoc with his ability to play away from the basket with his high level passing, jump-shooting, pick and roll play while also still maintaining a capable low post game.
#3 – Andrei Kirilenko – signing with Minnesota (as a SF)
I wasn’t too sure which group to put Andrei Kirilenko in. I usually put combo forwards in the wing category but I decided to make an exception and put Kirilenko in the big man group because I want to talk about him as an undersized quick four. That is the position I like him best in and want to see him return to.
I have long felt that Utah was hurting Kirilenko by playing him at the small forward position. By putting him out on the perimeter defending shooters instead of letting him create havoc in the paint with his shot-blocking, deflections and ability to create turnovers. By allowing quicker defenders to check him on the other end instead of forcing slower bigger guys to try and take away his ball-handling, passing and jump-shooting (which while above average for a PF are much less effective at SF).
Kirilenko is coming off a great season in the Euroleague with CSKA where he was the most dominant player in European Basketball. He still looks in good shape physically and capable of playing at a high level in the NBA.
I think Kirilenko can still be a top 12 PF in the NBA. I would love to see him join the Boston Celtics and start alongside Kevin Garnett in an uptempo (and defensively orientated) Boston lineup.
#4 – Michael Beasley – signed with Phoenix
A more athletic dynamic version of David West. Capable of being a 20+ppg power forward for the next 7-10 years.
For the price he’ll be available for, Beasley is one of this year’s free agencies true bargains. The issues with Beasley are the same as always — a dodgy defender/rebounder with questionable decision making offensively but his talent level and potential makes him a major attraction in this year’s free agent class.
#5 – Chris Kaman – going to Dallas
A solid offensive player but also a dodgy defender/rebounder. An over-rated player but still useful enough. Low level starter to high end backup.
I’d love to see him find his way onto a team with strong playmaking to stop Kaman from trying to create his own shot so often. A tendency of his which frequently causes his team more problems than his opponent.
#6 – Carl Landry
Potentially one of the best sixth men in the league. A very difficult threat to play against as a backup big man. He has a lethal low post and face up game that is too explosive for most backup bigs to handle. You can run your (second unit’s) offense through him in the post.
However, he is a weak defender and weak rebounder which makes him ill-equipped to handle the duties as a starting PF. Needs be in a bench role where he is one of the better sixth men in the league.
#7 – Kenyon Martin – unsigned
Still a well above average defensive player at the power forward position and a solid rebounder. Has developed into a good passer over the last few years. He is a dodgy scorer and weak jump-shooter.
An above average role player PF.
#8 – Brandon Bass – staying in Boston
An excellent catch and shoot big man from the midrange and long two point range areas of the court. One of the finest in the league.
However, the rest of his game is quite limited. A solid enough man-to-man defender but a dodgy team defender. Sub-par rebounder. Can’t create his own shot. Non-passer. Solid finisher in the paint (but gets his shot blocked a lot).
Ill-suited to a starting role but is a very good backup PF.
#9 – Kris Humphries – re-signed with Brooklyn
I am still not completely sure what to make of Humphries. I feel like he has been padding his stats quite a bit on a lousy New Jersey Nets team.
Clearly, Hump is a well above average rebounder but is he elite? I am still not completely sold on his jump-shot offensively or his defensive work on the other end.
Defensively, Humphries seems to lose out to bigger offensive players too often for my taste as well as frequently losing out to quicker (and more perimeter orientated) offensive power forwards too. He doesn’t seem to be able to check many of the quality offensive threats well enough at the PF position. Offensively, he still feels more of a low level type threat but is serviceable enough.
Not sure about Humphries as a starter. Quality backup PF.
#10 – Ersan Ilyasova – Milwaukee re-signed Ilyasova
A very good offensive player who creates opponents problems with his shooting range and quickness. A very strong rebounder. A dodgy man-to-man defender but a solid team defender.
#11 – Marcus Camby – signed with the Knicks
A high level rebounder and average defender. An above average passer but a miserably weak scorer.
A very good backup center.
Honourable Mentions: Kwame Brown, Boris Diaw,
Top Five Restricted Free Agent Big Men
#1 – Brook Lopez – re-signed with the Nets
One of the most highly skilled centers in the league today. Especially for a legitimate seven footer with very good length. A strong jump-shooter with range out to 20-22 feet as well as possessing a very dangerous low post game. Needs to work on his passing.
A weak defender/rebounder but shows enough potential to become a solid defender and below average but serviceable rebounder (as he was in his first two years).
#2 – Roy Hibbert – Indiana matched Portland’s offer
A solid defender/rebounder and a solid offensive threat (scorer and passer). A middle of the pack caliber starting center.
Very good at punishing smaller big men but needs to improve against players his own size. Needs to improve his scoring efficiency and continue to develop his jump shot.
His lack of quickness and mobility will always limit him from a physical standpoint on the defensive end of the court. The fact that he has achieved as much as he has already is very impressive and a credit to his work-ethic.
#3 – Spencer Hawes – re-signed with Philadelphia
A highly skilled offensive facilitator but a dodgy defender and solid rebounder.
Hawes’ main value comes on the offensive end with his high post passing and jump-shooting ability. Also a good passer out of the low post and a good finisher cutting to the rim. Shows some post moves but plays mainly away from the hoop.
Needs to continue to improve his defense. Played very well for the first 15-20 games before getting hurt (achilles I think it was) and looked like a top 15 center at the time but struggled once he returned. I hope that he can get back to that level in the future.
#4 – Omer Asik – signing offer sheet with Houston
A high level defender/rebounder but limited rebounder. Physical toughness.
Very similar to a pre-injury Kendrick Perkins. A little less skilled offensively but a little better defensively.
Ideally suited to a 26-28 minute a night starting role.
#5 – JaVale McGee – re-signed with Denver
This is probably too low to put McGee.
He has the most potential of anyone on this list (maybe not Brook Lopez, but then again, maybe so). However, he is also probably the weakest of the five players so I am going avoid the headache wondering where to put him and just leave him here.
JaVale McGee is an outstanding athlete that possesses terrific height, length, quickness, speed, agility, leaping ability, multiple-effort/jump capacity, and overall elite explosiveness. What he can do from a physical standpoint on the basketball court is nothing short of incredible.
McGee also shows a raw but developing offensive game. An improving post game (with an ugly hook shot) and (slow winding) jump-shot away from the basket. Defensively, McGee can make spectacular plays but still struggles to play fundamentally sound defense. A very capable rebounder but again fails with the basics of boxing out.
Further negatives is that McGee doesn’t appear to get it. Limited BBIQ. Doesn’t appear to have much of a work-ethic. Weak focus and effort levels during games. A lot of question marks on the mental side of the game.
One of those high risk high reward free agent signings. In other words, it could swing harshly either way.
#6 – Ryan Anderson – joined the New Orleans Hornets
A very good offensive threat with his perimeter game (very strong and prolific perimeter jump-shooter) and has a solid post game when matched up against smaller players.
However, he is a dodgy defender/rebounder and is reliant on his teammates to create quality shot-attempts for him.
Better suited to a reserve PF role than a starting role due to his lack of defense and rebounding.
Honourable Mention: Darrell Arthur, Robin Lopez, Jason Thompson