Ranking This NBA Offseason’s Free Agent Class

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This list of free agents will not include those that have a player option in their contract. Though sports news will cover them as possible free agents, they do not become available to other NBA teams until they decide.

Some of these names are star players, such as Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, so there could be some added drama if they all opt out. We don’t know what they’ll do, and it’s almost impossible to predict. Perhaps earlier than anticipated, Irving and Harden crashed out of the playoffs, and Westbrook’s year in Los Angeles was more than forgettable.

For now, though, here are the top free agents for the summer of 2022.

1. Zach Lavine

The Bulls will likely have to reward Lavine with another big contract but much more important than his current $20 million deal. Chicago started great, but unless they believe that their core of Lavine, DeRozan, Vucevic and Lonzo Ball can win a championship, resigning Lavine wouldn’t make any sense.

Another franchise is likely willing to spend much more on Lavine to complete their roster, so the high-flying wing will likely be taking his talents elsewhere.

2. Deandre Ayton (RFA)

Ayton is a restricted free agent, meaning that if another team offers him a contract, Phoenix has the right to match that contract to retain their player. Though this looked like a clear decision from Phoenix, who was rolling as Ayton was playing his best basketball yet, the former number one overall pick had a minor disagreement with head coach Monty Williams at the end of their game seven defeat at home Luka and the Mavs.

Ayton’s future looks less than confident with the Suns, but his ability to get 20 and 10 every night is attractive to many contending teams that need a big man to hold down the paint area.

3. Miles Bridges

The former Michigan State Spartan had his best season in a contract year, meaning he will probably get paid a lot more than he should. The Hornets have the space to bring him back, but if Bridges wants to secure his bag, he may take the highest offer no matter who comes calling.

He’s become more than just a dunker, as his dribbling and shooting skills have improved drastically over his first few years in the league. He’s also become a great two-way player while averaging 20 a game, and that’s a rare commodity in today’s game.

4. Jalen Brunson

No one has helped themselves more than Brunson has this year in a contract year. He’s been the Robin to Luka’s Batman, and he became the Batman when Doncic sat out the first few games of the first round.

Brunson has shown that he can be a very steady scorer, and his college game has translated to the NBA level much better than most thought ever would. He posts opposing guards and backs them down, leading to his signature fadeaway shot over a small defender who can’t reach his release point.

Jalen will get a lot of money, and Dallas probably can’t afford to lock him in long-term if they want to make this team even better.

5. Collin Sexton

The injury-ridden point guard’s stock is a complete mystery as he rehabs his meniscus. No one knows if Sexton will come back the same fiery and explosive player he was at Alabama and in his first few seasons in the NBA.

If he returns healthy for next year, though, he may be a steal in the free-agent market. He’s not going to garner much attention after missing most of last season, and an injury in a contract year will significantly diminish his value on the open market.

It’s unlucky for Sexton, a solid, score-first point guard, but it’s heaven if you’re an NBA team looking for added scoring in the backcourt.

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