Monday NBA Free Agency Roundup: Kevin Durant’s New Deal Shows Winning Comes 1st – Bleacher Report
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The talent pool is dwindling quickly, but quite a few impact players are still looking for homes. These are the top five free agents remaining from our original Big Board:
1. Gordon Hayward, SF, Unrestricted
No other player still available is an unquestioned stud.
Gordon Hayward is.
He’s consistently improved throughout his tenure with the Utah Jazz, developing into a two-way standout who can contribute in every way imaginable. Whether he’s bursting off a back-door cut to finish alley-oops at the rim, creating his own shot off the bounce or asserting himself as a defensive stalwart, the Butler product has learned how to make the most of his athletic gifts.
2. Otto Porter Jr., SF, Restricted
Don’t be fooled by Otto Porter Jr.’s scoring average in 2016-17 (a career-high 13.4 points per game). He performed like a max player for the Washington Wizards, coupling his engaged defense with an impressive set of offensive skills.
Porter isn’t just willing to do all the little things. He does those, sure. But he’s also developed into one of the game’s deadliest shooters, consistently spotting up in the perimeter and turning the smallest modicum of space into a splash through the nylon. While it helps that John Wall has fed him the ball in the perfect spot more often than not, it’s still undeniably impactful that he threw up 1.31 points per possession as a spot-up marksman, which placed him in the 97th percentile.
The inevitably gaudy contract he signs will surely be met with disdain from the crowds who only look at scoring averages while analyzing players. Fear not, though. He’ll be worth every penny.
3. George Hill, PG, Unrestricted
George Hill’s age and injury history might scare off some suitors. The point guard is already 31 years old, and he’s coming off a season in which myriad maladies limited him to just 49 games played for the Utah Jazz.
But when he’s healthy, Hill is a game-changing presence at the 1. It was true with the Indiana Pacers, remained valid while he logged home games in Salt Lake City and should stay accurate wherever he winds up next.
Hill is a force on the defensive end, capable of bodying up against bigger point guards and using his lateral quickness to prevent dribble penetration. He’s also a dramatically improved three-point shooter who can help provide spacing when he’s not setting up his teammates. Even if he’s not a bona fide star, he’s become a complete package.
4. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, Unrestricted
Whoever’s looking at Danilo Gallinari should make sure he spends plenty of time at the 4 in 2017-18. Though he’s traditionally been listed as a small forward, the Italian scoring machine spent 62 percent of his minutes playing one spot bigger in the lineup during what could have been his final season with the Denver Nuggets.
It’s a change that’s worked well for Gallinari, allowing him to mitigate the ill effects of his declining mobility by having him defend smaller spaces and show off his physicality against larger opponents. Plus, he’s still so good with the ball in his hands, constantly probing the opposition before either drawing a foul or lofting a pull-up jumper.
Gallinari can play small forward, regardless of whether he returns to Denver or throws on a new uniform for the first time since 2011. But he should be spending the majority of his time at the 4, or else his employers will be squandering some of his talent.
5. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Restricted
Buying into Kentavious Caldwell-Pope requires some faith.
He hasn’t yet developed into a star, and his metrics didn’t stand out during the 2016-17 campaign. He shot just 35.0 percent from beyond the arc, struggled with a few defensive assignments and rarely functioned as a true go-to scorer for the Detroit Pistons.
However, the talent and work ethic are both there. It’s by no means inconceivable that the former Georgia Bulldog could develop into a three-and-D ace if he were surrounded by the right pieces and no longer overextended, and that’s what’ll eventually get him max money—or at least close to it.
-B/R’s Adam Fromal