Anthony Davis tops the NBA’s free agent class of 2020
2020 will forever be remembered by basketball fans as the year COVID-19 stopped the NBA in its tracks, but prior to postponing the season on Mar. 11, the biggest takeaway was the stellar performance of the free agency class of 2019. Kawhi Leonard had the Clippers poised for a championship, Kemba Walker was making Boston fans forget all about Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler and the Heat were proving to be too hot to handle for the rest of the Southeast Division.
The free agency class of 2020 isn’t quite as stacked as its predecessor, but it still features a number of perennial All-Stars and high character glue guys who could push one lucky contender over the top. Let’s take a closer look at five of the NBA’s top unrestricted free agents.
1. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is likely to opt out of his player option worth nearly $29 million, but fear not Lakers fans, he isn’t going anywhere. The 27-year-old power forward has adjusted easily to life in L.A., where he guided the Lakers to a dazzling 49-14 record and had the team on the brink of its 17th NBA Championship before the pandemic hit. Expect Davis back in purple and gold next year along with a hefty new contract befitting his All-NBA production.
2. Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet’s days of being an understudy could be coming to an end. The undrafted point guard posted career high in points (17.7), rebounds (3.8), assists (6.7), and steals (1.9) this season, and has shown an ability to both co-exist with Kyle Lowry, as well as take over when the six-time All-Star sits.
Like VanVleet, the 34-year-old Lowry is also a free agent at the end of the season, and Toronto would be wise to cut him loose and invest in his younger teammate instead.
3. Montrezl Harrell
Lou Williams is still the de facto leader of the Clippers’ bench mob, but Montrezl Harrell has become the group’s most indispensable member. The versatile 6-foot-7 forward averaged a career-high 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in just 27.8 minutes per game this season, and proved to be an especially disruptive presence on defense, where he used his strength and athleticism to bully opponents. L.A. will be hard pressed to keep its current roster together for another run, but Harrell is one player it can’t afford to lose.
4. Danilo Gallinari
It’s almost criminal how underappreciated Danilo Gallinari is. The Italian marksman is seldom mentioned in the same breath as the league’s top forwards, and yet he’s a lights-out shooter who consistently averages close to 20 points per game within the flow of his team’s offense. His ability to stretch the floor should be in high demand this offseason as teams around the league continue to adhere to a free-flowing pace and space approach.
5. Joe Harris
Joe Harris likely won’t be anyone’s first call when the NBA’s free agency moratorium ends, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a difference maker. The former Three Point champ has shot 41% or better from beyond the arc in each of the past three seasons, and is precisely the kind of low usage, high efficiency player every championship team needs. The Nets will have to make some difficult decisions this offseason given their considerable commitments to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, thereby making "Joey Hoops" one of the league’s top sign-and-trade targets.