NBA teams are looking ahead to next year as we approach the end of the 2020-2021 season. The 2021 NBA Free Agency promises to be a memorable one as top talents within the NBA will search for new contracts. Moreover, Championship contenders will be looking to add integral pieces to strengthen their teams for a chance to reach the NBA Finals. The following list ranks the top ten available free agents that teams should be looking out for in the 2021 Free Agency. The players are ranked based on their statistical output, experience within the league, impact on their team’s success, and age.
Derrick Rose (PG) – New York Knicks
Derrick Rose reminded the NBA that he is still a valuable player. Rose was in contention for the Sixth Man of the Year Award as he averaged 14.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. He has reformed his game after suffering from injuries that limited his once known explosiveness.
Derrick Rose was a crucial role player off the bench for the New York Knicks. He provided stability on the court when starters like Julius Randle were on the bench. As a result, the Knicks were able to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. Derrick Rose has reintroduced himself to the NBA as a prolific spark plug scorer off the bench.
Heading into Free Agency, he is bound to attract a lot of attention. The Los Angeles Lakers are already keen on signing Derrick Rose this Free Agency after a disappointing playoff run that ended too soon. Derrick Rose is a role player that can provide depth off the bench for any playoff team. Look for him to make a difference in the playoffs next season.
Victor Oladipo (SG) – Miami Heat
Victor Oladipo is coming off an injury-riddled season. The 29-year-old managed to play in only 33 games this season as he suffered from a knee injury. Additionally, Oladipo had surgery on his right quad, which ended his season early in May.
This season, Oladipo averaged 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. He struggled to find consistency as he was traded three times from the Pacers to Houston, to now the Miami Heat. However, it is important to remember that Oladipo is a two-time All-Star (2018-2019). He has proven in the past that he is amongst the best scorers in the league and can put a team on his back in crunch time.
Despite Oladipo’s career numbers, it is difficult to see him being the focal point of any offense. As of right now, Oladipo is best suited as a complementary piece alongside other superstars. Victor Oladipo will have to prove that he can return to his explosive form once again.
Jarrett Allen (C) – Cleveland Cavaliers (RFA)
Jarrett Allen has been instrumental to the Cleveland Cavaliers squad. The Cavs acquired him in a three-team trade, which resulted in James Harden joining the Brooklyn Nets. Since joining Cleveland, Allen has averaged 12.8 points, 10 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 blocks.
Allen is a player to keep an eye on this Free Agency as he is an uber-athletic center who contributes heavily on both ends of the floor. Though his offensive game is still developing, the 23-year-old is a lethal shot blocker on the defensive end. In addition, Allen’s 6″11 frame allows him to keep plays alive on the offensive end consistently.
Jarrett Allen is a promising player that will only continue to blossom. He lands just outside the top ten as he has not completely developed as a player just yet. The Cavaliers will probably do their best to re-sign him as he is a restricted free agent. He will most likely be at the core of the Cleveland Cavaliers rebuild.
10 Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG) – Dallas Mavericks
Since joining the Dallas Mavericks in 2019, Tim Hardaway Jr. has slowly proven himself a valuable spark plug. This year, Hardaway averaged 16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. He also shot 44.7% from the field and played a crucial role in the Mavericks’ post-season push.
After coming off a great season, Hardaway will be looking to cash in this Free Agency. The 29-year-old provides a dynamic scoring ability and can help diversify any offense. Nonetheless, Dallas should be looking to keep the shooting guard alongside their core players, Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porziņģis.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is an incredible supporting piece that NBA teams will be hunting for. He perfectly fits within a sixth-man role and can keep a team rolling when he is on the floor. His individual scoring ability earns him tenth place on this list.
9 Dennis Schröder (PG) – Los Angeles Lakers
Dennis Schröder is a well-rounded guard fit for a starting role on almost every NBA team. Coming into the post-season, the 27-year-old reportedly denied a four-year $84 million extension with the LA Lakers. Thus, he will be keen on cashing in this Free Agency.
As of right now, it seems unlikely that Schröder will resign with the Lakers. During the season, he averaged 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. He was also brilliant on the defensive end as he averaged 1.1 steals.
At just 27-years-old, Dennis Schröder still has a lot left to give within the league. He provides a tremendous potential upside to any team that takes a bet on him. He lands just inside the top ten and will be a player to keep an eye on for years to come.
8 Norman Powell (SG) – Portland Trail Blazers (Player Option)
Despite losing to the Denver Nuggets in the first round, Norman Powell had an amazing season. Over the course of the season, he averaged a career-high 18.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. He played an integral role on the Toronto Raptors and impacted Portland’s offense following a trade between the two teams.
Early on in the season, Powell put up career numbers with the Raptors as he had a break-out year offensively. He shot 49.8% from the field and shot 43.9% from beyond the arc. Though these numbers decreased since being traded, there is no doubt that Powell has emerged as a clinical scoring threat in the league.
Norman Powell lands higher up on this list as he is only 28-years-old. With substantial years of his prime left to come, it is evident that Powell will only get better, barring any unfortunate injuries. In terms of Free Agent shooting guards, Powell is one of the best this off-season.
7 Mike Conley (PG) – Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz were first in the Western Conference this season, and Mike Conley played a huge part in their regular-season success. He averaged 16.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. This success, however, did not translate into the post-season as Conley suffered from a hamstring injury during their series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nonetheless, Mike Conley will be one of the most sought after point-guards this off-season due to his experience and leadership. Conley had one of the most productive seasons of his career and earned his first All-Star appearance as a reserve.
Mike Conley is one of the younger veteran point guards available this off-season and is bound to attract attention from contending teams. However, Conley comes in seventh on this list as this recent injury raises some questions about his form heading into next season.
6 Lonzo Ball (PG) – New Orleans Pelicans (RFA)
Despite missing out on the playoffs, Lonzo Ball has shown tremendous improvement over the course of the season. Ball averaged 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. At just 23-years-old, Lonzo is still yet to reach his full potential.
Since reforming his jump shot, Lonzo Ball has been much more consistent offensively. As a result, Ball shot 41.4% from the field and 37.8% from three. Ball has immense potential and continues to improve his game year in and year out.
As such, teams will be willing to take a chance on Lonzo. His young age means that teams will have an improving point guard at the helm for years to come. However, since Lonzo is a restricted free agent, it is hard to see him joining another team. All in all, Lonzo is in sixth place due to his young age, fantastic work ethic, and yearly offensive improvement.
5 John Collins (PF) – Atlanta Hawks (RFA)
The Atlanta Hawks have formed a dynamic duo between John Collins and Trae Young. Both stars have been crucial in the Hawks’ push towards an NBA final. Collins, in particular, has expanded his offensive arsenal, shooting in both the paint and from beyond the arc.
This season, John Collins averaged 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. Since Clint Capela’s arrival, Collins has had the chance to roam further from the paint, giving the Hawks more flexibility. It is difficult to see Collins on a different team as he is a restricted free agent. Nevertheless, the Hawks will have to put up big money to keep Collins on the team as he will be searching for a max contract.
John Collins lands in fifth place as he is putting up spectacular numbers at just 23-years-old. He continues to evolve his game at both ends of the floor and becomes one of the best two-way power forwards. The Atlanta Hawks will look to lock him down on a lengthy contract to keep their young core of players intact for years to come.
4 Kyle Lowry (PG) – Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry has been a perennial All-Star in the NBA since the 2014-2015 season. He is coming off a rather lackluster season with the Toronto Raptors as the team failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013. However, Lowry still put up great individual numbers as he averaged 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.3 assists.
Kyle Lowry is amongst the best all-around point guards in the NBA as he offers stability on both ends of the floor with his veteran leadership. Lowry can consistently make the right decisions on the offensive end as he knows when to find his own shot and get his teammates involved. Teams may be hesitant to sign Lowry on a long contract as he is 35-years-old. However, he is a great short-term investment for contending teams looking to make a championship run.
Lowry lands fourth on this list as he offers valuable championship experience and veteran leadership to playoff-caliber teams. It will be interesting to see where the point guard lands as the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, And Los Angeles Lakers are targeting him this summer.
3 Chris Paul (PG) – Phoenix Suns (Player Option)
Chris Paul has proven once again that he is a valuable veteran presence for any team. Paul has helped the Suns reach their first Western Conference Final since 2010. His ability to get his teammates involved and dictate the flow of the game separates him as one of the most elite point-guards the NBA has ever seen. Since being traded to the Suns, Chris Paul has averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 8.9 assists. He was also selected as an All-Star for the second consecutive year.
Chris Paul currently has a player option with the Phoenix Suns, which he reportedly intends to deny. If he were to opt-in, he would receive $44.4 million, making him the fifth highest-paid player in the NBA. Despite the large sum, Paul is expected to test Free Agency in hopes of receiving a multi-year deal upwards of $100 million.
Chris Paul at third place may come as a surprise on this list. It is undeniable that Paul is one of the best guards the league has to offer. However, at 36-years-old, it is doubtful that Paul will maintain this level of form for years to come. Paul is currently best suited for contending teams rather than teams that are rebuilding.
2 DeMar DeRozan (SG/SF) – San Antonio Spurs
For the past few years, DeMar DeRozan has been one of the most underrated players within the NBA. This season, DeRozan averaged 21.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and a career-high 6.9 assists. DeMar has drastically improved his playmaking skills since joining the Spurs and has become a premier playmaking forward. Teams will be after him this summer as he is amongst the best forwards available in Free Agency.
DeRozan has been incredibly efficient from the field as he shot 49.5% and 88% from the free-throw line. His aggression and explosive abilities on the offensive end have always been coveted traits. However, DeMar has been criticized for not shooting enough threes. It is a part of his game that peaked in the 2017-2018 season as he attempted 3.6 threes per game and shot 31%.
Following his move to the San Antonio Spurs, DeMar has only attempted around an average of 0.8 threes in his three seasons on the team. This may be due to Gregg Popovich’s hatred of the three-point shot. Even so, it is clear the DeMar is capable of taking threes.
DeRozan has re-established himself as an efficient playmaking forward. If he can shoot a larger volume of threes, he will only evolve into an increasingly lethal scorer. DeMar DeRozan is in second place on this list as he can become a deadly two-way player. At 31-years-old, DeRozan is just entering his prime.
1 Kawhi Leonard (SF) – Los Angeles Clippers (Player Option)
Kawhi Leonard is perhaps the most sought-after player in this Free Agency. The 29-year-old has a player option with the Los Angeles Clippers, which he reportedly intends to deny. Leonard is also ineligible for a contract extension, making him more likely to test Free Agency in the summer.
Over the course of this season, Kawhi averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and a career-high 5.2 assists. Leonard is undoubtedly one of the top-five players in the NBA. He will have many suitors this summer. However, as of right now, it is unlikely that Leonard will leave the Clippers. Kawhi is in his hometown, alongside Paul George (a superstar of his choice), and in the Western Conference Finals. That seems like a lot to give up in Free Agency.
Leonard easily grabs first place on this ranking. He is arguably the best two-way player within the league and will demand a large contract wherever he goes in Free Agency. In the 2019 Free Agency, Leonard surprised the world and decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers after winning an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors. Could he pull off another unpredictable move this summer?