It’s snowing in Connecticut today. You wouldn’t be able to tell but, summer is only a few months away. That means NBA Playoffs. That means NBA Finals. That means NBA Draft. More importantly, that means what has become the most exciting offseason in sports. The summer of 2018 will allow teams to bid on some very good restricted free agents however, each of them have a question mark. So, where do these players rank on my 2018 RFA Big Board?
- Julius Randle
If you haven’t watched this man play this year, grow up please. Shoot, I’m on the East Coast and I still find time to check him out. Since the All-Star break Randle has been putting up 21, 10 and 3 while hitting 57% of his shots. Oh, and the Lakers have one of the best post break records in the League. Randle is not the primary initiator of the offense (see Ball, Lonzo) but, he contributes in making the machine run. His motor is consistently on and the dude just makes plays. He is part of a select group of players who are just destroying the “bigs need to be able to shoot 3s” narrative.
Question: What does he get in free agency? If the Lakers want to pursuit LeKing, Randle (most likely) has to walk. Who will be the highest bidder?
- Clint Capela
I know what you’re thinking: “Capela, over Parker or Gordon?!” Damn right. Capela anchors one of the best defenses in the NBA. Thanks to lobs from Paul and Harden, CC hits 64% of his shots! His body has improved drastically and he has figured out how to use his athletic gifts. Defensively, Capela can switch on PnRs and offensively, he helps orchestrate what is arguably the best PnR set in the Association. The guy is a max player.
Question: How much of his value is related to situation? Capela may be dependent on two of the best guards in the NBA for his success. If a team like the Suns bids on Capela, does he have the same impact and make the contract worth it?
- Aaron Gordon
Boy, was this tough. I had to debate Jabari Parker’s injury history versus Gordon’s potential. At the end of the day, I just cannot ignore Parker’s lack of availability. He may have more upside however, Gordon is no slouch either. Although he is not a remarkable or consistent shooter yet, Gordon had made strides. If he can get up to 36% from deep over the next few years, he will be just fine. We know about the legendary athleticism. We know about his hustle. AG should average a double-double during his prime. His biggest asset, however, should be his defense. The guy is quick enough to defend guards and wings on switches, and strong enough to battle with bigs.
Question: How much do you pay for him? The Magic shopped Gordon for a reason. His value is foggy and has the potential to be overpaid. In this market…that could devastate a team.
- Jabari Parker
There is so much to love about the former Blue Devil. His offensive game is so polished, despite him constantly having to kick off injury rust. The three is there. The post moves are there. He can break you down off the dribble. Defensively, he may not show it yet, but Parker should be able to lock down traditional lineups. Simply put, he has a greater offensive package than Gordon and is a matchup terror. Despite his ceiling being higher than Gordon’s, exactly how much higher is it?
Question: Is his upside worth the risk? I’m rooting for the guy but, I can’t just ignore his injury history.
- Marcus Smart
Perhaps one of the most frustrating players in this class, Smart never ceases to confuse me. Some nights he hits 5-7 from three, others he goes 1-8. What is steady, however, is his defense and playmaking. A top 10 defender in the League, Smart can truly defend 1-4 and do it well. Shout out to his wingspan and linebacker physique. As NBA heads have started to notice, he is a underrated creator as well. Check the Celtics record with and without Smart on the court. His shooting make you want to pull your hair out but, he does everything else so well.
Question: Scary Terry. Rozier has put up 17, 5 and 4 during Kyrie’s absence and the Cs have been cruising. Factor in Smart’s own injury history, and the Cs may actually let him walk if the price tag is too high. Plus, I have no idea how much teams will bid for his services.
Zach Lavine, Nurkic, Kyle Anderson, Elfrid Payton, FRED VANVLEET (!) Rodney Hood, Montrezl Harrell, and the much improved Bazz Napier.