The 2017 postseason is nearing an end, and free agency is now less than a month away. Teams will be able to start contacting available free agents beginning at 12:01 a.m. on July 1st and players can officially sign new contracts on July 7th.
In preparation, we will be rolling out rankings for the top 10 players at each position over the next couple of weeks.
First up, we have the point guards:
1. Stephen Curry, Warriors:
Coming off back-to-back MVP campaigns (including being named the first unanimous MVP in league history in 2015-16), Curry’s numbers regressed a bit this past season. However, make no mistake, Steph is still inarguably one of the greatest shooters in league history. Curry has led the NBA in made 3-pointers in every season since 2012-13. With 324 3-pointers in 2016-17, he passed his own mark (286 in 2014-15) for the second-most in a single season in NBA history. The Warriors have had Steph locked into a ridiculously cheap contract the last four years, after he agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract back in the summer of 2013. Curry is in line for a major raise come July, when he is expected to ink a super-max contract with Golden State that will pay him in excess of $205 million over five years.
2. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers:
Paul just turned 32, but there has been no discernible slippage in his performance. In fact, CP3 had arguably the most efficient season of his career in 2016-17. Paul posted a career-best true shooting percentage (.614), including a career-high 41.1 percent from three-point range while knocking down a career-high 2.0 treys per contest. CP3 also ranked second overall in Real Plus-Minus among all NBA players this past season, trailing only LeBron James. And, although the Clippers again failed to advance deep into the playoffs, Paul was once again superb in the postseason. He averaged a career-high 25.3 points to go along with 9.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds, becoming the sixth player in NBA history (Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas & Magic Johnson) to average at least 25 points, nine dimes and five boards in a single postseason. According to NBA.com, Paul has the highest Playoff PER among point guards in NBA history and his box plus-minus of 8.50 ranks third in postseason history (behind LeBron James & Michael Jordan). There have been rumblings recently that Paul will consider leaving Los Angeles to sign with the Spurs. However, that seems unlikely considering he would have to leave roughly $50 million on the table to sign with San Antonio. The Clips can offer a contract starting at $35.3 million annually. (The downside for L.A. is that contract would pay Paul $46.6 million in the final year of the deal, at which point CP3 would be 36 years old).
3. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors:
Much like Paul, Lowry has shown no signs of slowing down despite being on the wrong side of 30. Last season, Lowry, who turned 31 in March, averaged career-highs in scoring (22.4 points per game), rebounding (4.8), made 3-pointers (3.2), true shooting percentage (.623) and PER (22.9), while finishing second in the NBA in minutes per game for the second straight year. Unfortunately, Lowry struggled in the playoffs once again in 2017. He averaged just 15.8 points per game before spraining his ankle in the Raptors second-round series vs. Cleveland. Lowry is eligible for a max contract north of $200 million. The question is whether or not Toronto is willing to offer him the full five years. The Raptors would prefer to play hardball and find a middle ground, but the issue is they are up against the cap and have no way of effectively replacing Lowry’s production if he walks. For what it’s worth, Lowry has maintained his primary focus is winning. Last month, when asked about his free agent priorities, Lowry said: “A ring. Nothing else. I just want a ring.”
4. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans:
Holiday is entering free agency at the right time. Durability issues have been a problem in the past, but he missed only three games due to injury (turf toe) last season. The 67 games he appeared in were his most since his final season in Philadelphia (78 in 2012-13). His 2016-17 minutes played, assists, steals, blocks, rebounds, field goals made and treys were all the highest marks he’s totaled in a season since coming to New Orleans in 2013. And Holiday closed out the season in fine fashion as well. Over the final 38 games of the year, he averaged 16.5 points (on .477 shooting from the floor), 7.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals. Only three other players matched those per-game averages in those categories over that same stretch: Chris Paul, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
5. George Hill, Utah Jazz:
Hill is versatile, talented point guard, who contributes on both ends of the floor. This past season, he averaged a career-high 16.9 points, while shooting a stellar 47.7 percent from the floor, including 40.3 percent from downtown, and 80.1 percent from the charity stripe. He also dished out 4.1 assists per game. The primary concern related to Hill is his injury history. He appeared in just 49 games due to a variety of ailments, including a nagging toe injury, which sidelined him for the final three games of Utah’s second-round series against Golden State. Hill has missed a total of 80 games over the last three seasons.
6. Jeff Teague, Indiana Pacers:
Teague is squarely in his prime at age 29. He’s been durable (starting all 82 games last season) and solid, if unspectacular, since becoming a full-time starting point guard. Dating back to 2013, Teague has recorded cumulative averages of 15.8 points (on 44.5 percent shooting) and 6.9 assists. That’s 313 games worth of data, which is certainly a fair sample size. It’s safe to assume that’s what we can expect from Teague over the next few seasons.
7. Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs:
Having spent the vast majority of his NBA career coming off the bench, Mills may finally have an opportunity to start next season. He has been a crucial contributor for the Spurs since arriving in San Antonio back in 2011. Mills is a proven winner who can knock down 3-pointers and has developed into a capable defender. He was one of just two players (Lou Williams) to tally over 200 assists and 120 threes off the bench last season. Will a team be willing to pay him starter-caliber money?
8. Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings:
Collison doesn’t have the potential star power or upside as many of the names mentioned above, but he is a reliable and steady playmaker that is best suited to serve as a high-quality backup PG. Collison will likely look for a contract starting somewhere between $8 and $10 million annually.
9. Derrick Rose, New York Knicks:
Rose posted impressive offensive numbers (18.0 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game) during his lone season in New York. However, his overall impact was often a net negative due to his subpar defense. Among 91 qualified point guards, Rose finished the season ranked 82nd in Defensive Real Plus-Minus. Also, Rose suffered another knee injury, a medial meniscus tear in his left knee, in April. Teams will be tempted due to the flashes of his old self he showed last season, but Rose remains an extremely risky offseason addition, especially if he is looking for a lucrative, long-term deal.
10. Milos Teodosic, CSKA Moscow:
Last summer, in a poll of NBA general managers, Teodosic was voted the best player not currently playing in the league. He’ll have plenty of interested suitors come July, with the Nets, Kings and Nuggets near the top of the list. Teodosic is widely recognized as one of the best pure passers in the world and brings plenty of flash and excitement to the game. However, it's important to note that he’s a sieve on the defensive end. He will reportedly seek a three-year deal worth between $25-30 million this summer.
Best of the Rest: Brandon Jennings, Michael Carter-Williams (restricted), Raymond Felton, Sergio Rodriguez, Langston Galloway (player option), Brian Roberts, Shelvin Mack, Trey Burke (restricted), Ramon Sessions (team option), Tyler Ennis, Shelvin Mack, Jose Calderon, Beno Udrih, Jason Terry, Ron Baker (restricted), Greivis Vasquez.