In case you missed Part 1, click here.
Group U: “We’ll Listen, But He’s Way More Valuable To Us Than He Is To You”
75. Tony Allen
Not bad paying one of the best perimeter defenders in the league $5 million per season for the next three years. Allen is already 32, but just ask Kevin Durant how tough it is to score on Allen. Allen was the reason the Grizzlies very nearly sent the MVP home packing in the first round. Someone as good on defense as Allen would fit on any team, but there’s perhaps no better fit than Memphis’ Grit and Grind basketball.
74. Boris Diaw
Diaw could shoot up or down the list, depending on what kind of contract he signs this summer in free agency. One thing is for certain when talking about Diaw, though: he can pass the hell out of the ball. Diaw may be the best passer for his size in the entire league, and he sees the court better than most point guards. Like defense, passing is a skill that can easily translate from one team to the next. But, Diaw is unlikely find a better fit than San Antonio, and San Antonio is unlikely to find another player quite like Diaw.
73. Andrew Bogut
Due to his injury history, Bogut feels considerably older than 29. He’s not particularly cheap, owed over $35 million for the next three seasons, but it’s worth it for the Warriors. He’s their defensive anchor, and without him, we saw what the Warriors were: a good team that struggles to get out of the first round. With him in the lineup though, the Warriors are legitimate contenders in the West.
72. David West
West is another guy on the decline, already 33 years old, but the Pacers would not just give him up, unless they received some very good players. West may be Indiana’s most consistent player, and it’s well-established that he’s their leader. He’s owed around $24 million over the next two years. That’s a hefty salary for a guy entering his mid 30’s, but the Pacers are in win-now mode and need West if they want to win.
Group T: “Don’t Laugh But We Think This Guy Could Be Pretty Good”
71. Enes Kanter
Kanter is still on his rookie salary and started for the first time in his life last season. He averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds, not terrible for a 22 year old. But for anyone who’s seen Kanter play, you know that the idea of him as a franchise building block is ambitious, if not completely misplaced. It is not that Kanter isn’t athletic. He has decent athleticism for a big man his size, but watch him run and much is left to be desired. He is not fluid and his moves don’t look natural. I’ll give him time–he’s only 22–but he’ll be up for an extension in two years, and if the Jazz think Favors and Kanter will taken them to the promise land, they’re in for a surprise.
70. Harrison Barnes
No one quite knows what to make of Harrison Barnes. Here’s another guy still on his rookie salary, like Kanter. Barnes flashes amazing athleticism and ability every once in a while, but usually he’s too passive and lets himself disappear. At times you’ll really forget he’s even on the court. And then there’s the whole playoffs thing. For the past two years, Barnes has been a much better player in the playoffs. He can guard multiple positions and is a tough mismatch for many teams with his size. The Warriors are desperately trying to win now and have flirted with the idea of trading Barnes, but the fear of what he could become is enough to make the Warriors keep him.
69. Ricky Rubio
A year ago, Rubio might have been considerably higher on this list, but then the stat came out about Rubio being the worst shooter in modern NBA history. Rubio is what he is: an amazing passer and good defender. Expecting anything else from him is unwise. He’s 23, with two years left on his rookie deal, and talk about Rubio receiving a max deal have finally kind of stopped. It’s fun to imagine what Rubio would be like with a really good supporting cast. It really is. But you cannot build around Ricky Rubio and win in the NBA.
Group S: “We’re Getting Low-Ball Offers For Him. Yeah He Takes A Lot Of Heat, But He’s Hard To Replace”
68. David Lee
Of all the Warriors, Lee finds his name in trade rumors the most. It probably has to due with that mammoth contract. Just look at his stats and you’ll think Lee is a borderline All-Star. He puts up 18 and 9 every night. He’s a good scorer for the Warriors. But his defense leaves him off the court when it really matters, and when the Warriors play small ball, they usually put Harrison Barnes at the 4 over Lee. The Warriors will probably trade him before the season starts, as part of a bigger package, to try and land a superstar like Kevin Love. Lee would probably be most effective on a mediocre team in the East just trying to make the playoffs to sell tickets. If you’re really trying to win a title, the aging Lee and his salary are of little help.
67. Deron Williams
Ouch. Yes, that Deron Williams. The one that Mark Cuban desperately tried to clear cap space for, only to not be at the Mavs’ official pitch meeting The same guy we used to contrast with Chris Paul, acting like it was actually a close call or something. Deron Williams is now a 29 year old, coach-killing point guard, owed over $60 million over the next three seasons, who can’t get his team out of the first round. The only offers the Nets may be fielding for him would have to be the most disrespectfully desperate offers. The overrated, overpaid point guard will probably get his wish and stay in the big city. And continue to put up 14 and 6 every night.
66. Roy Hibbert
Let’s do a quick hypothetical. If the Pacers had dethroned the Pacers this year, as many predicted, and seemed plausible, Hibbert could easily be in the top 25 of this list. As the anchor of one of the best defenses the NBA has seen in quite some time, Hibbert would be invaluable. Paul George might be the best player. David West might be the leader. But Hibbert is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s what holds the defense together. Two years ago in the Conference Finals, he dominated the Heat. They couldn’t stop him in the paint, and he made LeBron and Wade look scared to even attack the rim. This past season though, he fell apart after the All-Star Break. We don’t have to document what happened. In short, he turned into a player who didn’t deserve to be on the court.
He began posting double donut games. That is, zero points and zero rebounds. He was destroyed on social media by has-beens, and became a punchline on the Twittersphere. Owed nearly $30 million over the next two seasons, Hibbert is no bargain. He may be just 27 years old, but he looks washed up. Centers tend to fall off abruptly, sort of like how a running back suddenly loses his burst. It might be early to give up on Hibbert, but don’t be surprised if the Pacers are ready to cut ties with him this offseason.
Group R: “We’re Trying To Win Now, And We Need These Wings To Do It. What’s The Offer?”
66. Trevor Ariza
On talent alone, Ariza could be higher than the guys in front of him. But given that Ariza is likely to get WAY OVERPAID by the Wizards, or someone else, this offseason, his value slides a bit. So basically, he’s punished for NBA GM’s stupidity. Don’t pay this guy $40-45 million over four years. He had a career year averaging 14 and 6, and shooting over 40% from 3, but he’ll be 29 next season. Do you really want to see what happens when he gets his last long contract of his career and is in his early 30’s? Plus, you’re getting a corner 3 shooter who’s a good defender. Are ‘3 and D’ guys really worth $40 million anymore? They’re kind of like Running Backs. You can always find a cheaper one who still gets the job done.
65. Danny Green
If Green was on another team, there’s no telling if he’d have close to this much value. At just 27 years old and on a cheap contract–that only has one more year on it–Green is one of the Spurs’ most valuable players. He’s reinvented himself as a deadly 3-point shooter, and his near-elite athleticism is underrated. The Spurs could replace him, but it would not be easy, and they would greatly miss his production. He went from a NBA journeyman, bouncing around the D-League, to one of the best players on a championship team. When his contract expires next year, someone will overreact and overpay him.
64. Nicolas Batum
63. Wes Matthews
Batum should be higher on this list. He does a little bit of everything, averaging 13-8-5 at just 25 years old. He’s a playoff team, but he hasn’t progressed like the Blazers expected when they signed him to his big 4 year/$44 million deal. He’s the Blazers’ best perimeter defender, but offensively, his game is still too limited. Can you win a title with Batum as your third best player? No, not unless he turns into a less lame version of Scottie Pippen in the next few years and Damian Lillard turns into Michael Jordan. So, no. But can you win with him as your fourth best player? I’d say yes, but only if you’re either A) an extremely deep team (think Spurs), or B) your top three guys are All-Star caliber. The jury is out on Batum. Batum’s teammate, Matthews, became the Blazers’ third best player this year and had the best season of his career, averaging over 16 points per game. He’s only 27 and has one season left on his deal, but if the Blazers were given the chance to upgrade, they’d take it in a heartbeat. If they had to give up Matthews, C.J. McCollum, and a future first rounder to get Arron Afflalo, you can’t tell me they wouldn’t pull the trigger.
62. Andre Iguodala
I know you can’t quantify what Iggy does for a team by only looking at his stats, but how much higher on this list can he go, when averages 9-4-4? Right, he’s the Warriors’ best defender, and one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, but still. And paying a 30 year old $35 million over the next three years could get ugly if Iggy starts losing his athleticism. He’s a great fit on the Warriors and is a great teammate. He probably deserves to go higher on this list on talent, but not when you factor age and salary.
Group Q: “We Think We Can Win This Guy, Even Though He’s Not Elite”
61. Jrue Holiday
How can a 24 year old, who averages 14-8-4 and has made an All-Star game be so low on this list? Just ask the Pelicans. I’m sure they’d rather have Nerlens Noel and this year’s tenth pick back if they could redo that trade. They tried to win now with an Anthony Davis-Jrue Holday-Ryan Anderson-Tyreke Evans nucleus in the loaded Western Conference. Davis is a superstar. The rest of the guys are overrated and overpaid. The Pelicans better fix this thing and fast, or Davis will be gone the first chance he gets.
60. Jeff Teague
Did anyone’s stock soar as much in the playoffs as Teague’s? He looked like a star against the Pacers, nearly averaging 20 points. During the season, the 26 year old put up 17 and 7. What’s better is that he’s on a bargain deal, owed $24 million over the next three years. If the Heat could trade Chris Bosh for Teague, Korever, and Antic, wouldn’t they do it? Wouldn’t the Hawks tell them to get lost? Jeff Teague is the best point guard no one knows about. You can win with this guy.
59. Monta Ellis
What a year Ellis had. He was the second option to Dirk on the Mavs. The same Mavs club that took the Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. That’s better than anyone else could do against the Spurs. Ellis ran the pick and roll great with Dirk (who doesn’t?) and looked like a player you can win with. Obviously Ellis shouldn’t be your second best player. Some people think his ideal role is as a title team’s sixth man, providing instant offense off the bench. He’s only making $17 million over the next two years, and he’s the type of guy unafraid of anyone in the playoffs. Ellis is your classic irrational-confidence guy.
Group P: “Could We Get A Little More For Him? People Used To Think He Was Really Good, Remember?!”
58. Brook Lopez
The Nets were better without Lopez. The whole ‘best-offensive-center-in-the-league’ thing is overrated and needs to stop. He doesn’t rebound, play defense, or stay healthy. His numbers and PER are insane: 21 and 6, with a PER of 25. Wait, 6 rebounds for a center? Maybe they’re not insane. The Nets should realize they’re not very good, and could get a lot for Lopez from some dumb GM. Someone will overpay for a 26 year old 7 footer who scores over 20 points.
57. Greg Monroe
Before the Pistons got Drummond, everyone talked about Monroe. He was the ultimate All-Star snub, a guy who put up 14 and 9 as a 23 year old. How rare to find an effective big man at such a young age! Let’s pay him the max! The Pistons have made a habit of making terrible front office decisions since their ’04 title run. Paying Monroe the max wouldn’t be Ben Gordon/Charlie Villanueva territory, but it wouldn’t get them that much closer to where they want to go. They made the mistake of signing Josh Smith last year, thinking a big man trio would work, but we know that was a mistake. They’re better off letting Monroe walk than overpay to falsely feel relevant in a terrible conference.
56. Chris Bosh
If the Heat had won the title, Bosh would probably be a lot higher on the list. Somewhere near the top 35. It wouldn’t have been deserved, but we’d trick ourselves into overvaluing him just because he was the third best player on a threepeat team. Thank God that’s only a hypothetical. It’s trendy to write about how Bosh could be a superstar, but values winning over money. He’s not a superstar though. Not even close. We’ve seen his game transform in the past year, as he’s compromised himself to just a 3 point shooter. Here’s Bosh in a nutshell: an overpaid 30 year old, jump-shooting power forward, who can’t rebound.
55. Marcin Gortat
As a Wizards homer, I don’t know if this is too high or too low for Gortat. He had a great year. He might be 30 and about to be WAY overpaid by the Wizards, but he was one of the best centers in the league. He averaged 13 and 10, and complements Nene’s game pretty well. If Gortat was signed to $30 million deal over four years, I’d put him much higher. The problem is the Wiz will pay him around $50 million over four years. He’s good, but not that good. Then again, how many guys could do this?
54. Tyson Chandler
Chandler shouldn’t be higher than Gortat, Bosh, Monroe, or Lopez off production. He averaged 9 and 10, is owed $15 million next season in the last year of his deal, and is 31 years old. And, he broke his leg last year. He is higher on the list though because he is the only guy who is a true defensive anchor. Put him on a contending team like the Warriors or Heat, and his value would skyrocket. There’s a good chance he’ll end up reunited with Dirk in Dallas by next season.
Group O: “He’s Young and Cheap. We’ll Keep Him.”
53. Jimmy Butler
Butler is one of the toughest guards in the league. He’s the ultimate Tom Thibodeau player. Only 24 years old and with two years left on his cheap rookie deal, Butler is a steal for the Bulls. He’ll never be a big scorer, but he’s a great defender, competent 3-point shooter, and perfect locker room guy. The Bulls were even better once they traded Luol Deng and gave more minutes to Butler. His value could slip once he gets his big payday. Till then, he’s an absolute bargain for the Bulls and their second best player.
52. Draymond Green
Who would’ve guessed Green would be just as good as Harrison Barnes? He can hit threes, defend, and rebound. Green is a less rugged version of Butler, but he can do more offensively. How did he ever slip to the second round? Everyone knew he’d be an effective pro. Just like Butler, he slipped too far in the draft because scouts valued potential over ability. Because of Green, the Warriors can shop Harrison Barnes without worry. Green and Butler are both the prototypical glue guys. Every title team needs a guy like them.
Group N: “Everyone Knows We’re Shopping Him, But He Is Very Valuable”
51. Kenneth Faried
During the season, Faried was the subject of endless trade rumors. At one point, the Knicks tried to trade Shumpert for him straight up. Faried is really good. He’s 24 year olds and nearly averages a double-double (14 and 9). He might be a little overrated for those who think he could turn into a star. He’s in a gray zone. He’s not a star, but he’s not quite a role player. Or if he is, he’s an extremely valuable role player. He’ll get paid a lot when his rookie deal expires in two years, but we don’t know yet how good you can be with him as your third best player. Plenty of teams would love to have his service.
50. Arron Afflalo
It’s surprising that the Magic didn’t deal Afflalo. They could have probably netted a top 6 or 7 pick for him. Maybe that’s not enough. At one point last year, he looked like the best shooting guard in the league. He’s on a bargain deal, making $7.5 million per season for two more years. A team like the Pacers could make an offer for Afflalo. Something along the lines of Stephenson and some picks for Afflalo could be attractive to the Magic. Or imagine Afflalo on the Thunder. He’d be the perfect complement to KD and Westbrook. He plays good defense, stays healthy, shoots the ball well, and is a good teammate. Afflalo deserves to be on a playoff team already.
49. Isaiah Thomas
Pop quiz: who had a higher PER than Kyrie, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Eric Bledsoe, John Wall, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, Rondo, etc? Right, I’m obviously talking about Thomas. And Thomas IS ONLY 25 YEARS OLD. Why doesn’t anyone talk about this guy? Is it because he’s on the Kings? (Probably.) Is it because he was Mr. Irrelevant? (Maybe.) The diminutive Thomas averaged over 20 points and 6 assists per game for the Kings. The Kings offered Thomas and Ben McLemore for Rondo at one point. I don’t know how good you can be with Thomas as your second best player, or even third, but his numbers are absurdly good, and he’s supremely underrated.