NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
Only four team remain. 26 teams are already looking at the offseason. I rank the top 60 free agents heading into 2018-2019, with a quick thought or question about all of them. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
Here’s quick guide to free agency.
Restricted free agent means that a team has the ability to match a contract offered by another team.
Player option means exactly that, a player has the option to pick up his contract.
I grouped the players by tiers, and did not rank the guys that are still on rookie contracts. I put the players in the appropriate tiers that are either a) fully expected to pick up their player options or b) no-brainer team options. The list will be updated throughout the summer.
Tier 1 - Franchise Changer
1) LeBron James - Forward/PG (Early Termination Option)
Will shape the next five years of the NBA landscape.
2) Kevin Durant - Forward (Player Option)
Free agent fully expected to resign with Golden State. The only thing of interest is if he gives the Warriors another discount.
Tier 2 - All-NBA Level
3) Paul George - Forward (Player Option)
Does he team up with LeBron James? Resign with the Thunder? A lot of intrigue and unknown surrounding PG13.
4) Chris Paul - PG
Expected to resign with the Rockets.
Tier 3 - All-Star Level
Not Ranked: Nikola Jokic - C
5) DeMarcus Cousins - C
Was finally hitting his stride before his Achilles injury. Unfortunately there is a scary track record with big men and Achilles tears. Does he get the full max?
6) Clint Capela - C (Restricted Free Agent)
Capela is so underrated. A restricted free agent should get a huge offer from somewhere. Do the Rockets bring him back for the max?
Tier 4 - All-Star Potential
7) DeAndre Jordan - C (Player Option)
Does he opt into his player option? Or opt out and try to get a longer term deal with less average salary?
8) Julius Randle - PF (Restricted Free Agent)
Restricted free agent that the Lakers are in a tough spot with. He showed real flashes at the end of the season. If someone makes an offer early in free agency the Lakers may be forced to let him walk to preserve two max cap slots.
9) Aaron Gordon - Forward (Restricted Free Agent)
Restricted free agent. Looked like he was turning a corner, but regressed as the season went on. Still has loads of potential.
Tier 5 - Starters
Not ranked: Thad Young - PF/C
10) Trevor Ariza - Forward
Very solid Three and D guy. Rockets surely want him back, but can he be lured away for more money?
11) Zach Lavine - Guard (Restricted Free Agent)
Almost have to throw away this season coming off a torn ACL. Awful defensively but has the ability to score. Will he recoup his athleticism next year?
13) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - Wing
Another solid three and D guy. Took a one year deal with the Lakers hoping to cash in. Highly unlikely he returns to the Lake Show (unless they whiff on all the big names).
14) JJ Reddick - SG
Still a deadly shooter, at times was the Sixers number one option. Not great defensively, but dynamic offensively.
Tier 6 - Borderline Starters / High End Bench
Not Ranked: Enes Kanter - C, Austin Rivers - Guard, Carmelo Anthony - Forward, Wesley Matthews - Wing
15) Marcus Smart - Guard (Restricted Free Agent)
Does everything well except shoot. Going to drive people crazy with Hero Ball moments but not many guys bring his intangibles. Turned down a reported 4 year 50 million dollar extension from the Celtics, was it a mistake?
16) Jusuf Nurkic - C (Restricted Free Agent)
Starting caliber center, not usable in all matchups. Portland is loaded with bad contracts, do they bring him back?
17) Tyreke Evans - Wing
Had a very good season (no one noticed) playing for the Grizzlies. Surprising went un-traded at the deadline.
18) Will Barton - Wing
Offensive dynamite off the bench and as a spot starter. Awful defensively. Looking to cash in after making peanuts the past three years.
19) Derrick Favors - PF/C
Old school power forward, can play backup center. Unfortunately the modern NBA is leaving him behind.
20) Isaiah Thomas - PG
I still believe. You don't luck into becoming a 30 point per game scorer. It's a shame his hip looks like a career altering injury, can still be one of the most feared offensive weapons in the game (hopefully).
21) Jabari Parker - Forward (Restricted Free Agent)
Like Lavine will be a full year removed from his acl injury. A disaster on defense, but can score with the best of them. I wouldn't give up on this guy just yet.
22) Avery Bradley - SG
Went from being one of the best two way players in the game, to borderline unplayable. What is he really? Probably somewhere in between.
23) Brook Lopez - C
Has developed into a useful stretch five. Can be a contributor to almost every team.
24) Kyle Anderson - Forward (Restricted Free Agent)
Hard to figure this guy out. Not great at anything, not terrible at anything either. Is he a just a product of the Spurs or useful everywhere?
25) Fred Van Vleet - PG (Restricted Free Agent)
Looks like he could be a low end starter / high end backup. The Raptors are extremely expensive, if a team overpays do they bring him back?
26) Rajon Rondo - PG
Had a great season with New Orleans but I'm not sold. Too many years of lackadaisical defense and assist hunting to completely change my opinion because of one good season. I will admit that playoff Rondo is a real thing.
27) Dwayne Wade - Wing
Hard to imagine him leaving Miami after seeing what happened when he did.
28) Danny Green - Wing (Player Option)
Another situation where he either had an awful year, or is on a downslope. Seemed like a lock to opt out of his 10 million dollar player option, now it's questionable.
29) Luc Mbah a Moute - Forward
Hard to believe that he generated almost no interest as a free agent. Will be even harder to believe if the same thing happens again this year.
30) Rudy Gay - Forward (Player Option)
Looked good in San Antonio, has a player option. Does he parlay it into a multi year deal?
31) Wilson Chandler - Forward (Player Option)
Player option. Probably will make more money at a lower average value by opting out.
Tier 7 - Rotation Players / Spot Starters
Not ranked: Jeremy Lin - PG, Dirk Nowitzki - PF/C, Lance Stevenson - Wing
32) Ersan Ilyasova - PF
A useful player looked good in his stint with the 76ers. Can be a starter in a pinch, but probably best served as a bench option.
33) Wayne Ellington - Wing
Ellington has turned into a deadly three point shooter. He should generate a lot of interest.
34) Marco Belinelli - SG
Like Ilyasova, Belinelli improve his stock during his stint with the 76ers. He is a liability defensively but is a solid offensive player.
35) Cory Joseph - PG (Player Option)
Basically given away as a salary dump, Joseph excelled as a backup point guard for the Pacers. Will be interesting to see if he picks up his player option.
36) David West - PF/C
Still a solid contributor, needed for minimal minutes. Got one ring already (possibly another coming) does he look for somewhere he can play more minutes?
37) Milos Teodosic - PG (Player Option)
Unfortunately we didn't get to see what this guy can really do, he missed a good chunk of the season due to injury. Ridiculous passing highlights, looks like a solid backup point guard.
38) Doug McDermott - SF (Restricted Free Agent)
Showed some flashes late in the season (completely unnoticed). Might have saved his career.
39) Nemanja Bjelica - Forward (Restricted Free Agent)
Played out of position after the Butler injury, starting at small forward. Probably wasn't used right in Minnesota, can be a stretch four.
40) Anthony Tolliver - Wing
Quietly had an outstanding season with Detroit. One of the few good moves of the San Van Gundy era.
41) Dante Exum - Guard (Restricted Free Agent)
Missed almost the whole season due to a shoulder injury. Showed up as a defensive stopper in the playoffs, questionable offensive ability.
42) Dewayne Dedmon - C (Player Option)
Might be a good cheap option as a fake starting center. Continuing to improve as a three point shooter would really help him.
43) Elfrid Payton - PG (Restricted Free Agent)
Someone will buy into his potential. Hard to be a starting point guard when you can't shoot.
44) Rodney Hood - Wing (Restricted Free Agent)
Showed real potential in Utah, but his Cleveland stint hurt his value.
Tier 8 - Bench Players, need the right system to be productive
Not ranked: Tony Parker
45) Nick Young - SG
Known more for his personality, he is still deadly off catch and shoot opportunities. Doesn't do much else, but teams always need shooting.
46) Aron Baynes - C
Solid defensively, actually held up okay as a starter. Quality backup center, but no one wants centers.
47) Jerami Grant - PF/C
Still not really sure what he is. Unbelievable athlete, someone will take a shot on him.
48) Jeff Green - Forward
Will have moments where he looks like he's one of the best players in the world, but has way more WTF moments.
49) Joe Harris - Wing
Really improved his all around game. Looks like he could turn into a solid rotation player than can really shoot.
50) Kevon Looney - PF
Showed some prowess on the defensive end of the floor, not much offensive ability.
51) Raymond Felton - PG
A serviceable backup point guard. Should get a job somewhere.
52) Shabazz Napier - PG
Revitalized his career with Portland. Looked like a usable backup point guard.
53) Jose Calderon - PG
Surprisingly still a semi productive player. Plays within himself and doesn't try to do too much offensive and defensively.
54) Michael Beasley - Forward
Took on the lead dog role in New York with injuries to Tim Hardaway Jr and Porzingis. Still can get buckets.
55) Amir Johnson - PF/C
Undersized backup center/ old school power forward. Probably looking for the veterans minimum.
56) Trevor Booker - PF
Awful defensively, but has some ability to shoot the three ball.
57) Jamal Crawford - Guard (Player Option)
Extremely inefficient player who can occasionally still score. A perfect match with the Timberwolves.
58) Derrick Rose - PG
59) Greg Monroe - C
Crazy that he's coming off a max contract. Unfortunately he's playing in the wrong era.
60) Mario Hezonja - Unknown
I still believe… but he's pretty terrible.