Heading into a free agency season stacked top heavy with guards and small forwards, many teams will need rebounding and a paint-scoring threat to add to their roster. Elite teams like Boston and Houston finished near the bottom of the league in points in the paint per game. Teams like Milwaukee, Indiana, Minnesota, and Cleveland finished near the bottom of the league in rebounds per game despite team success. To improve their roster, here are the five best big guys to go sign.
5. Enes Kanter
Just like most positions in free agency, after the star-studded players are covered — the list starts to thin out as they are mostly top heavy. With approaching Enes Kanter, a team that has good defensive big man and not many scorers should pursue Kanter. Kanter averaged 14 points per game and 11 rebounds per game, so paint scoring is the key here.
But, Kanter is not the defensive anchor most teams will seek from a center. A team like the Atlanta Hawks, who have a young big man like John Collins, would be wise to pursue Kanter. Kanter will not cost a maximum contract spot, and his veteran status could help Collins develop on the offensive end. If the Knicks decide to retain Kanter, he would be of help to newly drafted forward Kevin Knox who will need to learn post scoring for a long forward.
4. Jusuf Nurkic
Since Jusuf Nurkic made the move from Denver to Portland via trade, his production has been fantastic for the guard-oriented Trail-Blazers. Despite his good production, he did take a little step back from the previous season statistically. In 2016-17, Nurkic averaged 15.2 points, and 10.4 rebounds per game after coming over from Denver.
In his first full season in Portland, Nurkic averaged 14.3 points, and 9 rebounds per game with nearly 2 assists per game. His slick downtick in stats could due to the dominant first team all-NBA season by Damian Lillard and the Blazers reliance on perimeter play.
3. DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan is now heading into his second important free agency as a member of the Clippers. Jordan’s first one was notably 2015, where it was reported he was all but signed with Dallas — but had a change of heart, returning to LA. Jordan’s future in LA is not looking very good as the franchise heads closer to rebuilding than contending.
DeAndre Jordan averaged 12 points, 15.2 rebounds, and shot 64.5% from the field this season still making him a dominant threat in the paint for whoever pursues him. Despite a past rift, the Mavericks would be wise to pursue Jordan again as they sit at the bottom of the league in rebounding ranks and have a lot of cap space in their arsenal.
2. Clint Capela
Easily one of the most improved players in the 2017-18 season was Rockets big man Clint Capela. One of the most staggering improvements has been his free throwing shooting. In his first season in 2014-15, he shot a forgettable 17% from the charity stripe. Fast forward to this season, he improved to 56% from the line.
Clint Capela will give any team a very high floor for his talent on defense and the boards. But, as I stated above with his improvements at the line, his ceiling on offense is especially noteworthy. He averaged a career high 13.9 points per game while shooting over 65% from the field.
Where he goes is the question. The Rockets have stated their motivation for bringing Capela back, but his free agency is restricted. Meaning, the Rockets must match any offer a team gives Capela in order to keep him. The Suns have made it clear they will offer Capela a max, crippling Houston further.
The Rockets are already having trouble with Chris Paul right now due to lack of cap space and that struggle only enhances as Capela is sought after heavily.
1. DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins is by far the best pure center in basketball right now and would fill a huge need for many teams. Before tearing his achilles, Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and, 1.6 steals, 16. blocks and even shot 35% from three point range.
The production and versatility Cousins brings to a team is absurd, Cousins would be a franchise player for more than a third of the league’s teams and could be bought ‘low’ as of right now. A lot of teams could be nervous about Cousins’ future due to his achilles tear, since he would cost a max contract spot.
Some players have never been the same after the achilles tear. But, if I had to bet on anyone to bounce back strong from this injury, it’s DeMarcus Cousins. There is risk to the max contract offer, but the production any team would get would be worth the shot.