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Best NBA Free Agent at Each Position

With NBA Free Agency slowly approaching in the review mirror, starting on August 2nd, 6 p.m. ET, we are taking a look at the best players available at each position in the 2022 NBA Free Agent Class.

A few notable names such as John Wall, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Kyrie Irving are on the list of available free agents in 2022, but what all these guys have in common, is that they all have a “Player Option” clause, which gives these players the power to decide whether or not they want to stay for another year or become an unrestricted free agent. Since these players are not likely to get another offer exceeding their current offer right now, barring anything unexpected, these players will all opt-in for another year with their given teams, meaning we will not be including them in our list.

With that in mind our list containing the best NBA 2022 Free Agents at each position goes like:

  1. Point Guard, Tyus Jones
  2. Shooting Guard, Zach Lavine
  3. Small Forward, Miles Bridges
  4. Power Forward, Bobby Portis
  5. Center, Deandre Ayton

1. Point Guard, Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies (Unrestricted)

May 9, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones (21) celebrates against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter of game four of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Tyus Jones heading into 2022 Free Agency leads the point guard position as the most coveted player amongst his peers.

What more could you want from a point guard than Tyus? He’s a pass-first point guard who is able to knock down a 3 at a 39% clip on almost 3 attempts per game, he just absolutely doesn’t turn the ball over (< 1 per game), he knows how to set up an offense and generate points even if he doesn’t get directly credited for a stat, you could go on and on about what Tyus does on the court. Any team in need of a point guard should have his contact information ready and available for when Free Agency starts.

You know those head-scratching plays you get from your point guard, where you say to yourself “Why did you do that? That man wasn’t open? Why did you shoot that shot?” you will rarely if ever, see that from Tyus. This can be shown by his assist to turnover ratio of 6.4 in the 2021-22 season, which lead the NBA (closely followed by his brother).

Tyus is a born winner. People might remember him leading Duke to a National Championship along with the likes of Jahil Okafor, Justice Winslow, and Grayson Allen. But, a lesser-known fact about him is that not only was he a winner in college he was a winner in High School, where Tyus attended Apple Valley Highschool and led his team to a State Championship there as well. This man was born for the big stage and to win games. To see him shine in the spotlight comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following him.

If you need any more proof of what Tyus provides to a team when he’s leading the offense, look no further than the Memphis Grizzlies season. We all know who Ja Morant is and what he can do and what he brings to a team, that goes unsaid. What fans were able to see from the 2021-22 Grizzlies season is what the Grizzlies looked like with Ja Morant not on the court. Due to injuries and a lot of rest towards the end of the season Ja missed 25 games this season. When you hear that he missed 25 games you must immediately think that the Grizzlies had a lackluster record during those games. Think again. The Grizzlies went 20-5 in those games and when Tyus was the starter the Grizzlies went 20-3, which is just as crazy as it sounds. The Grizzlies run a completely different offense when Ja is on the court and when he isn’t and a lot of that can be credited to the Grizzlies coaching staff and of course Tyus who is the ultimate Floor General. If a team is looking for a Savvy, Pass-First, Veteran, Efficient point guard, look no further than this man right here, you’ve found your guy.

Heading into free agency the Grizzlies might not necessarily be the top bidders for Tyus, because Tyus is due for a payday and I’m sure he will be looking for the highest bidder. With the Grizzlies having to pay a lot of players in the coming years, Tyus might be one of the guys they need to let go. Tyus will be searching for a contract somewhere in the vicinity of $15 million/per year.

2. Shooting Guard, Zach Lavine, Chicago Bulls (Unrestricted)

Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine during the second half of Game 1 of their first round NBA playoff basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 93-86 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Zach Lavine heading into 2022 Free Agency leads the shooting guard position as the most coveted player amongst his peers.

Maybe the best player on our list, Zach Lavine, the dynamic combo guard who will jump over your tallest player or shoot a 28-foot three in your face to win the game. Zach Lavine is arguably the most athletic player in the NBA, if you disagree, take a look at one of his several dunk contests that he’s won, usually with such elite athleticism within a player it usually comes with technical flaws, like shooting form, dribbling, finishing through contact. But Lavine breaks that notion, with one of the most polished scoring profiles you will come across in this league. Scoring 24 points a game on almost 18 shots a game with 47/39/85 shooting splits. He is a guard providing well above league average scoring output on high volume, while that is starting to become less and less rare for teams to have someone who is capable of that, there are plenty of teams in the NBA in need of someone of Zach Lavine’s caliber who can give a team 40 on any given night.

On one side of the ball, you have this elite offensive talent who is a matchup nightmare for anyone guarding him. On the other side of the ball, you have this unknown quality, his defense. A question NBA GMs might be asking their scouts is: “Zach Lavine good at defense?” and the answer to that is, that his on-ball defense is well improved over his time on the Bulls. Given his elite athleticism and strengths, he is able to stay in front of his opponent on defense which is definitely something that should not be looked past. But beyond that, he struggles to provide good defensive production which can be displayed by his lackluster blocks (0.3/per game) and steals (0.6/per game) despite that elite athleticism. If Lavine ever wants to reach that lock-in all-star status he needs to desperately improve on that side of the ball, he has all the tools to do so.

Heading into Free Agency, Lavine’s future with the Bulls is up in the air with the recent arrival of Demar DeRozan who came back to life in the 2021-22 season, outshining Lavine for the good majority of the season. With Lavine looking also looking for a check, we expect him to explore every option in Free Agency. Lavine will hopefully be searching for a max contract with a team for $200 million over 5 years.

3. Small Forward, Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets (Unrestricted)

Miles Bridges heading into 2022 Free Agency leads the Small Forward position as the most coveted player amongst his peers.

Similar to Zach Lavine, Miles Bridges is amongst the elite athletes in the league. He can jump out of the gym and bully you in the paint. This season he had quite the jump from the 2020-21 season to the 2021-22 season. We saw glimpses of what he was capable of in 2020, but he wasn’t given a huge role until this year where we saw him take a big leap in his progression. He went from averaging 12/6/2 to averaging 20/7/4 and that is after he slowed off towards the end of the season. Quite the jump in all categories, whether that was because of opportunity or because he is simply that good is up to debate. His efficiency this season dramatically decreased (.600 eFG% -> .554 eFG% and .400 3p% -> .331 3p%) on his higher volume which could be expected, but nonetheless with someone going into free agency looking to be paid, that has to be giving some teams some hesitancy when considering if they want to throw $25 million at him or not.

With that said, his talent goes unnoticed. Very rarely can you find a forward who can score on all 3 levels, rebound effectively, facilitate, and is a freak athlete. He has all the tools to become a superstar in this league, if he can polish up his game and find a way to create his own shot I think Miles Bridges has the potential to be the #2 guy on a championship roster very easily. It all comes down to whether or not he continues to progress year to year. For some teams, that risk might be worth it and for others, they might not want to mortgage their future on a what-if.

His defense is probably considered league average, which given what he brings on the offensive side of the ball I think a lot of organizations would be okay with that end of the ball. Heading into free agency, Miles Bridges will more than likely resign with the Hornets given that their Forward position would drop off a cliff if he were to depart meaning they need to do everything in their power to keep his talent around. If they can’t offer him what they want expect Bridges to be searching for a contract in the 20-25 million range.

4. Power Forward, Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (Unrestricted)

Bobby Portis heading into 2022 Free Agency leads the power forward position as the most coveted player amongst his peers.

The power forward position is the first position where there could be several other players that could be considered more coveted with the likes of Taureun Prince, Montrezl Harrell, Kevon Looney, PJ Tucker, Jamychal Green, Jalen Smith. There is a lot of talented, sought after power forwards on the list of free agents this summer. But us here at HoopsResource, believe that Bobby Portis tops the list at the power forward position.

Portis quickly became a fan favorite in Milwaukee after making his return to the NBA after his fallout with the Bulls. He brings an energy that is unmatched and brings a smile to any fan watching him play. Beyond his good energy, Bobby Portis is very solid all-around at the Power Forward position, he brings primarily scoring (14.6 points on 48/39/75 shooting), rebounding (9.1 rebounds), and sound defense. When asking for a role player power forward, Bobby fits that role perfectly. He creates space on offense forcing defenders to play him on the perimeter and also crashes the rebounds. By doing this he relieves a lot of pressure from the center, so teams that have a solid center and a weaker power forward are definitely keeping an eye on what Bobby is doing this offseason.

I think the biggest question on people’s minds around Bobby Portis is, “can he produce on a different team?”. There is no question that the Bucks are an absolute elite team, with arguably the best player in the world in Giannis who is then supported by Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, and a plethora of solid role players. Having all this talent around Bobby frees him up a lot to be able to get his own, but if that goes away are we still going to see this same production? Only time will tell, if I was a betting man, I’d be betting on Bobby, he is the type to want to be the best and I hope to see him flourish in the league someday.

Heading into free agency, Bobby Portis has a tough decision to make. Teams around the league will more than likely offer Bobby a better contract than what the Bucks have to offer, but Bobby has a bond with Milwaukee, they brought him back to glory. Because of that, there is a possibility of him taking a pay cut to remain a part of the team, but come Free Agent season I imagine there will be a lot of GMs ringing his phone.

5. Center, Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (Unrestricted)

Deandre Ayton heading into 2022 Free Agency leads the center position as the most coveted player amongst his peers.

Deandre Ayton will probably be the most talked-about free agent this summer. It is no secret that he does not agree with how the Phoenix Suns value him as a player. We have all heard how much he deserves to be paid and since then he has been in a continuous battle trying to prove he is worth it. Is Deandre Ayton worth it? That question could be asked to 100 random fans and you would get a dead-even split of opinion. You have plenty of arguments that you can argue for either side. On one hand, you have a player who has demonstrated strong scoring capabilities, with solid rebound and defense, who is 6’11”. On the other hand you have a teammate that airs this out throughout the season, has been rumored to have a gaming addiction, and completely disappears some games. These circumstances rarely occur with players that get max contracts, which is why people are having such a hard time deciding his value.

If I was a GM in the league and had the space to get Ayton, I would. I think his potential is there, he has the talent and the drive to be good, and all he is looking for is the opportunity to be a focal point of an offense. If my team is in need of a center, who are becoming more and more desired again, or is looking for a #2 scoring option, I definitely think Ayton could fit well into a lot of schemes. I don’t think that is a super unpopular opinion, I imagine the 6’11” center is going to get a lot of attention this free agency, but will he leave the team that drafted him is the question. If the Suns lose him, their other remaining centers are Javale McGee and Bismack Biyomobo, while both can hold their own, I wouldn’t consider either of them to be starting-caliber players.

Honorable Free Agent Mentions:

  1. Jalen Brunson (point guard)
  2. Ricky Rubio (point guard)
  3. Jusuf Nurkic (center)
  4. Collin Sexton (point guard)

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