Ranking the best NBA free agents still on the market

Most of the 2023 NBA free agency’s big names came off the board in the first few days, but there are still a handful of difference-makers.

Today we look at the top 10 back on the board.

Based on age, position, how they fit in today’s NBA and past and projected production, you can find these 10 players below.

*Check out 2023 NBA Free Agency Day 1 gradesincluding the Kyrie Irving and Draymond Green signings. Day 2 grades touch Austin Reaves and a number of high-profile extensions. Day 3 grades hit Jordan Clarkson, the Suns’ latest veteran addition and a Laker-turned-Net.

LeBron James, Mo Bamba, Max Christie, Troy Brown and Jarred Vanderbilt Photo by AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Mo Bamba’s minutes and offensive output dipped in 2022-23, but taking the last two seasons together offers hope for the three-and-D 5’s career.

Since the start of 2021-22, he’s put up 9.0 points and 1.3 threes while shooting 38.3 percent from deep.

And on top of the floor spacing he can provide, he also remains a potential difference maker as a shot blocker.

Among players with at least as many career minutes, Bamba is tied 36 in league history in blocks per possession (fourth among active players).

Ayo Dosunmu Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a promising rookie campaign in 2021-22, Ayo Dosunmu took a step back in Year 2. His scoring efficiency and assist percentage both declined significantly as Lonzo Ball’s injury forced him into a starting role he wasn’t ready for to begin the season.

Even after he returned to the bench in late February, the numbers did not improve. In fact, in that role, Dosunmu averaged just 6.5 points and 1.8 assists while shooting 33.3 percent from three.

Still, the flashes from that rookie campaign should make him worth a flyer to someone. At 6’5″, he has decent size for a combo guard. And a 37.6 three-point percentage that season suggests he can function as a floor spacer in lineups with ball-dominant wings or bigs.

Matisse Thybulle Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Matisse Thybulle’s chance to stay in NBA rotations will depend heavily on his outside shooting.

We already know about his ability to impact a game on the other end of the floor. He has made two All-Defense teams and has career averages of 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks in just 20.5 minutes (2.7 steals and 1.5 blocks per 75 possessions).

Those numbers alone can move the needle for a team, and Thybulle’s awareness both on and off the ball can also help.

It just depends on how much his offense moves the needle the other way.

Thybulle doesn’t create much for himself or others, so his impact is often limited to catch-and-shoot opportunities. And if you’re looking for a sign of hope on that front, his 36.5 three-point percentage in 2022-23 was just over average.

Darius Bazley Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Darius Bazley played fewer minutes in 2022-23 than he did in any of his previous three NBA seasons, but he may have stumbled into his most sustainable role with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns.

Both teams used him predominantly as one 5where his 6’8″ frame may seem a little small, but his combination of perimeter skills and athleticism can be a real weapon.

Only this season 10 players both matched or exceeded Bazley’s average per possession for blocks and assists.

If his 37.7 three-point percentage this season is any indication of things to come, he could still have a moment in the NBA. (Although the paltry 53 attempts suggest we shouldn’t take much from it).

Willy Hernangomez Amanda Loman/Getty Images

Willy Hernangómez has not been a fixture in any NBA rotation since his rookie season in 2016-17 with the New York Knicks.

The reasons for that vary from team to team, but the most consistent one is probably just the nature of today’s game.

Hernangómez has some perimeter skills, but his game is closer to old-school bigs than today’s rimrunners and playmaking 5s.

In his limited opportunities, however, he almost always produces.

He has averaged at least 15.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. 75 possessions, with a 50-plus field-goal percentage in each of his seven campaigns. Rudy Gobert and Jonas Valančiūnas are the only other players to do so in each of the last seven campaigns.

Hamidou Diallo Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

After posting a 93-percentile defensive estimated plus-minus in 2021-22, soon-to-be 25-year-old Hamidou Diallo pushed his way into the 99th percentile this season.

Thanks to his 7’0″ wingspan and athleticism above the rim, he has posted a strong defensive rebound and steal rates for a 6’5″ screen/wing.

Combine that with a more concerted effort to take shots around the rim (which gave Diallo by far his career-best effective field-goal percentage) makes him a more dynamic two-way threat.

Kelly Oubre Jr. Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Kelly Oubre Jr.’s 2022-23 campaign flew under the radar — likely because he played just 48 games for a poor Charlotte Hornets team — but he posted career highs in points (20.3) and steals (1.4) per game. match.

Of course efficiency (or lack thereof) is an issue and he needs to get his teammates more involved, but his slashing and scoring can bolster a second unit.

And while his defense has rarely been a calling card, Oubre’s size (6’7″ with a 7’2¼” wing catch) and athleticism give him the tools to be solid on that end of the floor.

In the right role (seventh or eighth man in a good team) he can be a positive difference maker.

Grant Williams Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Unless his offer sheet comes much lower than expected, it’s hard to imagine Grant Williams returning to the Boston Celtics this season. They are within $4 million of super treasure apron with 13 players under contract. If they add one more player, it will likely be at a minimum.

That clears the way for Williams to land on another team, and his low-usage, high-intensity game would work for a number of contenders.

Over the past two seasons, he has averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 threes in 25.1 minutes while shooting 40.3 percent from deep.

And his willingness and ability to defend two or three positions also increases his value.

PJ Washington Joshua Gateley/Getty Images

At this time, considering the limited purchasing power back on the market, it’s hard to imagine restricted free agent PJ Washington signing an offer sheet that the Charlotte Hornets won’t match.

He started 73 games for the Hornets last year, and they haven’t really added anyone to threaten his spot, though the return of Miles Bridges could eat into his shots and minutes.

Technically, though, he’s still on the market. And he makes good sense as a floor spot 4 in today’s NBA. His percentage tumbled in 2022-23, but Washington hit 37.5 percent of his triples over his first three seasons.

He’s also long been an underrated stat-sheet filler. He doesn’t list flashy totals in a single column, but he adds a little bit of everything.

There are only 14 players in the NBA history which matched or surpassed all of Washington’s career marks in rebounding percentage, assist percentage, block percentage and steal percentage.

Christian Wood Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Christian Wood had one of the strangest 2022-23 campaigns in the NBA.

In a contract year, just as he was starting to look like a high-end starting big man, coach Jason Kidd and an untimely injury torpedoed his role.

For about a month from mid-December to mid-January, Wood started and averaged 20.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 2.3 assists and 2.3 threes.

After the injury cost him eight games, he never started again and averaged just 20.8 minutes. And perhaps to the benefit of his potential suitors, the closing stretch likely suppressed free-agency value here.

Now, a team in need of some outside shooting and some shot blocking could probably secure Wood in a trade.

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