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 ESPN Insider: Free-agent rankings: Curry, KD, CP3, Hayward, more stars in top 30

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PostSubject: ESPN Insider: Free-agent rankings: Curry, KD, CP3, Hayward, more stars in top 30   Mon May 29, 2017 10:48 am

Free-agent rankings: Curry, KD, CP3, Hayward, more stars in top 30
Kevin Pelton ranks the top 30 NBA free agents for 2017. AP Photo/Ben Margot
May 22, 2017

Kevin PeltonESPN Staff Writer

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The 2017 crop of NBA free agents includes two MVPs (Golden State Warriors teammates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant) and several other perennial All-Stars. While some of the biggest names on the market might not be on the move, there are plenty of options for teams shopping with cap space.

Let's rank the top players on the market with the help of multi-year projections that use my SCHOENE projection system to forecast how free agents will perform over the next three seasons. I also factored in ESPN's real plus-minus -- weighted half as much as the box score stats -- to come up with a comprehensive estimate of how many wins above replacement player (WARP) players will provide over that span.

Starting with Curry, here's how this year's top 30 free agents project.
1. Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors
Guard
Age: 29
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 51.5 | 2016-17 RPM: 7.2 | 2016-17 WARP: 17.2

After spending the first few months adjusting to Durant's arrival and a shooting slump after Durant's injury, Curry has been back playing at an MVP level since March.

At 29, he's surely past his peak but remains the top free agent on the market. Curry will be eligible to sign a designated veteran contract with the Warriors worth an estimated $205 million over five years.
2. Kevin Durant

Golden State Warriors
Forward
Age: 28
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 42.6 | 2016-17 RPM: 5.4 | 2016-17 WARP: 14.2
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While he was healthy, Durant played well enough to be in the MVP conversation during his first season with the Warriors. His MCL sprain shouldn't be a concern going forward, and at 28 Durant remains in his prime.

Because he has 10 years of experience, Durant will be eligible to sign for the same starting salary as Curry, assuming he declines his player option. But he'll be limited to four years on a new contract instead of five since he's a non-Bird free agent after leaving Oklahoma City for Golden State last summer. (Other teams can offer him a maximum of four years and an estimated $152 million.)
3. Chris Paul

LA Clippers
Guard
Age: 32
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 41.3 | 2016-17 RPM: 7.9 | 2016-17 WARP: 13.3

We're still waiting for Paul, who turned 32 early in May, to show any signs of slowing due to age. He actually posted the league's best RPM last season because the Clippers again performed so much better with him on the court.
4. Kyle Lowry

Toronto Raptors
Guard
Age: 31
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 40.5 | 2016-17 RPM: 5.9 | 2016-17 WARP: 12.9

Only wrist surgery prevented Lowry from a second consecutive season in the NBA's top 10 in WARP, and he ranked 10th at RPM.

Yet Lowry has been unable to translate that efficiency to the postseason, which could make the Raptors wary of offering him a full five-year maximum deal. Such a contract would pay Lowry an estimated $46.5 million in 2021-22, during which he will turn 36.
5. Paul Millsap

Atlanta Hawks
Forward
Age: 32
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 28.1 | 2016-17 RPM: 4.6 | 2016-17 WARP: 7.1

Though his RPM remained in the league's top 15, Millsap's box score production dipped during his age-32 season. As a result, there's a big drop-off from the top four players on the market to him.

My projections regard a full five-year max for Millsap as a riskier proposition than for Lowry or Paul. A five-year contract would take Millsap through 37, yet the Hawks seem intent on retaining him.
6. Gordon Hayward

Utah Jazz
Forward
Age: 27
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 27.6 | 2016-17 RPM: 3.1 | 2016-17 WARP: 10.9

Given that the Warriors' free agents seem likely to re-sign in Golden State and the other players ahead of him are in their 30s, Hayward has emerged as the top free agent realistically available.

Because of Hayward's age, a four-year contract carries far less risk, and he's established himself as an All-Star capable of leading an offense.
7. Blake Griffin

LA Clippers
Forward
Age: 28
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 27.0 | 2016-17 RPM: 3.8 | 2016-17 WARP: 8.6

Despite his relative youth, Griffin can be considered a risky free agent because of his injury history. After Griffin underwent surgery in early May for his most recent malady, a plantar plate injury that knocked him out of the Clippers' playoff loss to the Jazz, the team told reporters it was reasonable to expect his return sometime during the preseason.
8. Otto Porter

Washington Wizards
Forward
Age: 23
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 25.8 | 2016-17 RPM: 3.5| 2016-17 WARP: 9.6

After he and the Wizards were unable to agree on a contract extension last fall, Porter projects as the top restricted free agent on the market.

He's one of the league's more efficient scorers (.628 true shooting percentage), though Porter does struggle to create his own shot when he plays without either of Bradley Beal or John Wall alongside. Nonetheless, expect Washington to match any offer sheet to Porter, who could easily make max money.
9. Danilo Gallinari

Denver Nuggets
Forward
Age: 28
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 21.1 | 2016-17 RPM: 2.9 | 2016-17 WARP: 4.8

Frankly, this projection probably overrates Gallinari because it doesn't penalize him enough for a history of missing time due to injury. Gallinari hasn't played more than 63 games in a season since tearing his ACL in 2013, and his box score value declined last season.

Still, RPM gave Gallinari plenty of credit for Denver's top-five offense.
10. Jeff Teague

Indiana Pacers
Guard
Age: 28
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 20.2 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.6 | 2016-17 WARP: 9.1

Teague projects atop the ranks of sub-All-Star point guards on the market after a strong first season with the Pacers.

In a slightly smaller role, Teague posted a career-best .574 true shooting percentage thanks largely to his excellent free throw rate. Additionally, RPM didn't rate Teague as the same kind of defensive liability he had appeared to be in the past.
11. Jrue Holiday

New Orleans Pelicans
Guard
Age: 26
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 18.8 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.8 | 2016-17 WARP: 6.2

Because he was a young draft pick even by one-and-done standards, Holiday will hit the unrestricted market in his prime at age 27 (his birthday is June 12).

Holiday showed the ability to stay healthy at the right time, missing just three games (due to turf toe) after returning from a 12-game absence tending to his wife, Lauren, (a former U.S. women's national soccer team star) when she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.
12. Nikola Mirotic

Chicago Bulls
Forward
Age: 26
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 16.5 | 2016-17 RPM: 2.3 | 2016-17 WARP: 4.9

Mirotic's value tends to fluctuate with his 3-point percentage, and he finished 2016-17 on a high note, making 41.3 percent of his triples and averaging 14.2 points per game after the All-Star break. (That didn't carry over into the playoffs, as Mirotic shot 28.6 percent in a loss to the Boston Celtics.)

Because of his gravity as a shooter, the Bulls have tended to score better with Mirotic on the court.
13. George Hill

Utah Jazz
Guard
Age: 31
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 16.3 | 2016-17 RPM: 3.7 | 2016-17 WARP: 5.4

Hill is the anti-Holiday; he was drafted at age 22 and signed a five-year deal with the Pacers as a restricted free agent, so he's not hitting unrestricted free agency until 31.

Though his size and 3-point shooting mean Hill figures to age relatively well, his age explains why he rates behind Holiday and Teague despite outperforming them while on the court last season.
14. Greg Monroe

Milwaukee Bucks
Center
Age: 27
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 14.9 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.6 | 2016-17 WARP: 7.1

This time a year ago, Monroe seemed likely to pick up his 2017-18 player option for $17.9 million. After establishing himself as one of the league's top reserve centers, Monroe has a more difficult decision to make.

The market for centers is poor, but Monroe is the best of them available as an unrestricted free agent.
15. Patty Mills

San Antonio Spurs
Guard
Age: 28
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 13.1 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.6 | 2016-17 WARP: 4.9

Tony Parker's injury has given Mills an unexpected opportunity to showcase his ability to run a team as a starter during the playoffs. While he's limited as playmaker, Mills' 3-point shooting is a considerable upgrade on Parker's, and he's developed into a capable defender.
16. Rudy Gay

Sacramento Kings
Forward
Age: 30
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 13.0 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.8 | 2016-17 WARP: 2.6

Though he's rehabbing an Achilles rupture -- which is not factored into his projection -- Gay told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated he plans to decline his player option and become a free agent. Before the injury, he was enjoying an atypically positive season in terms of RPM.
17. Serge Ibaka

Toronto Raptors
Forward
Age: 27
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 12.8 | 2016-17 RPM: 0.6 | 2016-17 WARP: 5.5

For his ability to space the floor as a 3-point threat and his shot-blocking prowess, Ibaka has had relatively modest RPM impact. Similar players also haven't aged particularly well, so Ibaka's production is projected to decline throughout the course of his next contract.
18. Mason Plumlee

Denver Nuggets
Center
Age: 27
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 12.5 | 2016-17 RPM: 0.9 | 2016-17 WARP: 6.0

Plumlee was a financial winner of the pre-deadline trade that sent him from the Portland Trail Blazers, who are already deep in the luxury tax for 2017-18, to the Nuggets. After giving up a first-round pick and Jusuf Nurkic to get Plumlee, Denver is likely to match any realistic offer to him as a restricted free agent.
19. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Detroit Pistons
Guard
Age: 24
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 12.4 | 2016-17 RPM: minus-0.6 | 2016-17 WARP: 2.8

Caldwell-Pope suffers from the adjustment to favor WARP over RPM, which better captures his value as a top-tier perimeter defender.

Caldwell-Pope shot a career-best 35.0 percent from 3-point range last season and could get a max offer sheet from a team in need of a youthful 3-and-D contributor. The Philadelphia 76ers fit that bill.
20. Pau Gasol

San Antonio Spurs
Center
Age: 36
Player Option

Projected 3-Year WARP: 12.0 | 2016-17 RPM: 2.4 | 2016-17 WARP: 7.0

Like Monroe, Gasol will have a tough choice on a $16.2 million player option for 2017-18.

He's unlikely to match that salary on the open market approaching age 37 (he'll celebrate his birthday during the July moratorium). However, Gasol could lock in a contract that takes him through his late 30s.
21. Nerlens Noel

Dallas Mavericks
Center
Age: 23
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 11.5 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.3 | 2016-17 WARP: 4.2

Noel's projection is artificially limited because I use last season's minutes per game to project future playing time and he averaged just 20.5 MPG.

Though that didn't increase much in Dallas (he averaged 22.0 MPG after being traded from Philadelphia), Noel would surely play more as a starting center elsewhere and figures to pick up more minutes from aging Dirk Nowitzki if he remains with the Mavericks.
22. Kelly Olynyk

Boston Celtics
Forward
Age: 26
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 11.3 | 2016-17 RPM: 0.5 | 2016-17 WARP: 2.8

Coming off shoulder surgery, Olynyk had a relatively down regular season. He surely helped his value in free agency with a huge 26-point outing off the bench as the Celtics beat the Wizards in Game 7 of their conference semifinals matchup.
23. Patrick Patterson

Toronto Raptors
Forward
Age: 28
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 11.3 | 2016-17 RPM: 2.3 | 2016-17 WARP: 2.8

A longtime RPM favorite because of his floor spacing and nimble feet for a big man, Patterson didn't help his cause heading into free agency by shooting just 27.8 percent during Toronto's playoff run.
24. Tim Hardaway Jr.

Atlanta Hawks
Guard
Age: 25
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 10.8 | 2016-17 RPM: 0.8 | 2016-17 WARP: 3.5

After two disappointing seasons with the New York Knicks, Hardaway has developed into a starter in Atlanta. He's still a relatively weak defender who struggles to negotiate screens, but Hardaway averaged 19.1 points per 36 minutes on above-average efficiency during his age-24 season.
25. Alan Williams

Phoenix Suns
Center
Age: 24
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 10.3 | 2016-17 RPM: 0.6 | 2016-17 WARP: 2.7

Getting regular playing time after the Suns shut down Tyson Chandler, Williams averaged 17.6 points and 14.8 rebounds per 36 minutes in his second NBA season. He's one of the league's best rebounders and a surprisingly effective shot blocker at 6-foot-8.

Don't be surprised if Williams forces his way into more playing time next season.
26. JJ Redick

LA Clippers
Guard
Age: 32
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 10.2 | 2016-17 RPM: minus-0.4 | 2016-17 WARP: 3.4

Redick's market should be robust because virtually every team could use a knockdown shooter who can generate shots through relentless off-ball movement and defend his own position. Players similar to Redick aged reasonably well into their mid-30s.
27. James Johnson

Miami Heat
Forward
Age: 30
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 9.5 | 2016-17 RPM: 2.4 | 2016-17 WARP: 6.2

Johnson hits free agency coming off a career year he attributed to dramatically improving his conditioning under the tutelage of the Heat's strength and conditioning staff.

Versatile enough to run an offense and defend centers, Johnson should command a sizeable raise on the $4 million he got from Miami last summer.
28. Ersan Ilyasova

Atlanta Hawks
Forward
Age: 29
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 9.0 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.7 | 2016-17 WARP: 3.9

Across the three teams he played for last season, Ilyasova supplied effective floor stretching and adequate defense as a power forward. He shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range and boosted his teams' offenses.
29. Manu Ginobili

San Antonio Spurs
Guard
Age: 39
Unrestricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 8.2 | 2016-17 RPM: 2.8 | 2016-17 WARP: 3.3

During the playoffs, Ginobili has indicated he'll take some time after the season to decide whether to retire or return for 2017-18. He'll turn 40 in July.

Still, his throwback performances in Kawhi Leonard's absence during the playoffs have shown that Ginobili remains capable of helping a team in big moments.
30. Andre Roberson

Oklahoma City Thunder
Forward
Age: 25
Restricted

Projected 3-Year WARP: 7.8 | 2016-17 RPM: 1.2 | 2016-17 WARP: 0.3

Because of his extreme strengths and weaknesses, Roberson will be a fascinating restricted free agent. He earned a spot on my All-Defensive first team by contributing both lockdown one-on-one D and blocks and steals in a help role.

At the same time, Roberson is one of the least effective offensive perimeter players in the NBA and his dreadful free throw shooting makes him an intentional foul liability.

It will be interesting to see how the Thunder and other teams value that combination of skills.




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