The 2016 NBA Free Agency class has the potential to be an extremely good one. It is surely a very fortunate one as all players will benefit from a huge salary cap jump thanks to the NBA’s new television deal. With so many teams having a lot of money to spend, this summer of spending could be a furious one.
Many of the top players available are unrestricted free agents who are able to sign with whoever they want. There are, however, a number of restricted free agents for which their future is slightly murkier. Teams have the ability to match any offer on these players making it much more difficult to pry them away.
That being said, there are some very talented players in this group such as NBA rebounding leader Andre Drummond who is one of the NBA’s best young big men and a double-double machine. Someone like Harrison Barnes has a ton of potential if he were to go somewhere and take on a bigger role as he can score and defend.
There are also plenty of young guards each with their own set of skills such as Jordan Clarkson, Bradley Beal, and Matthew Dellavedova, as well as some promising big men such as Festus Ezeli, Boban Marjanovic, and Donatas Motiejunas.
So we here at Lakers Nation are giving you the top-10 restricted free agents of the 2016 NBA Free Agency class.
#10 Terrence Ross, SF, Toronto Raptors
Terrence Ross has proven that he can score the ball, but the rest of his game has yet to come around. The potential for him is still there as he is one of the best athletes in the entire NBA and is a great shooter.
Ross will need to improve on defense to become a ‘3-and-D’ wing that all teams are constantly looking for. He will also need to attack the basket more as he tends to settle for jumpers too often. The raw tools are there, however, if someone can harness all of his potentials.
#9 Dwight Powell, PF, Dallas Mavericks
Powell has great size down low, is a good athlete and plays hard at all times. Big guys like that usually work out and Powell could be the next one if given the opportunity. His per-36 numbers this year (14.5 PPP, 9.9 RPG) give a glimpse of what he is capable of.
He averaged under 15 minutes with the Mavericks last season and really just needs time to really grow into his own. He is still only 24 years old so the potential for him blossoming in a larger role is there.
#8 Allen Crabbe, SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Finally able to get his first consistent minutes with the Trail Blazers, Allen Crabbe has proven himself to be a valuable role player thanks to his shooting ability and defensive potential. At only 23 years old there is still plenty of room for growth.
Shooting is at a premium in the NBA right now and Crabbe can definitely provide that in spades. He isn’t the best shot creator, but he brings enough to the table that he can be a contributor in the right role.
#7 Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Houston Rockets
Motiejunas’ numbers are deceiving as he was injured for most of this year, playing in only 37 games for the Rockets. When healthy in 2015 he averaged 12 points and six rebounds while shooting nearly 37 percent from deep and that player could make a big impact for a lot of teams.
Offensively, Motiejunas can do a little bit of everything, scoring from the post and the perimeter while being able to put the ball on the floor at times too. Defensively he is not great, but with the right team, he can be a valuable player.
#6 Festus Ezeli, C, Golden State Warriors
Another case of someone who has had a smaller role as being part of a great time who many see as flourishing if given the opportunity to become a regular starter. Festus Ezeli is a big athletic big man who can control the boards and protect the basket.
His offensive game will never be great but he can finish around the rim when set-up. The Warriors have a lot of money tied up to their stars so keeping Ezeli could be difficult if the right deal comes along that they simply can’t match.
#5 Evan Fournier, SG/SF, Orlando Magic
In a league where shooting is at a premium, someone like Evan Fournier could find himself cashing in as a top-notch shooter who can handle the ball adequately and play solid defense. He’s blossomed in Orlando with his bigger role and now will be able to be paid for it.
Fournier is far from a star, but very good role players are hard to come by and guys with Fournier’s skills are all the rage right now.
#4 Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Los Angeles Lakers
Jordan Clarkson proved his rookie season was no fluke as the second-round pick improved across the board, raising his scoring and rebounding numbers while improving as an outside shooter. Some wondered if Clarkson could thrive when he wasn’t the primary ball-handler and lead option and he showed he can.
Questions remain as to what his true position is and his defense needs improving as well, but his skill, work ethic, and athleticism are all worth betting on. He falls under the ‘Arenas Rule’ so the Lakers have every advantage when it comes to keeping him in town.
#3 Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal could arguably take the top spot on this list had he been able to stay healthy in the NBA, but he has been unable to do so to this point and those worries move him down some. The talent is still there, however, as Beal is one of the best young shooting guards in the league.
Beal is a great scorer and outstanding deep shooter who is also a solid defender on the other end. Unfortunately, he has missed at least 19 games in three of his four NBA seasons leading many to wonder if he can ever stay healthy. Even with that, Beal is sure to command major money and it would take a lot of it to pry him from Washington.
#2 Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors
Though his numbers aren’t outstanding the potential for Harrison Barnes to break out with a bigger role is substantial. Barnes has great size, strength, and athleticism for his position. He has also turned into a more than adequate shooter while being capable of defending the other team’s best player.
The question with Barnes is whether he can make a leap if he does find himself as more of a lead player. He will be paid as such, but there is no proof he can be the main option. With Klay Thompson and Draymond Green already on max contracts and Stephen Curry due up next year, the Warriors may not be able to match what it would take to keep Barnes in town.
#1 Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons
Andre Drummond had a breakout year in 2016, helping the Detroit Pistons to return to the playoffs while posting career highs in points, rebounds, and steals. Drummond is a beast down low, finishing everything at the rim, controlling the boards, and protecting the rim as few others can.
His free throw shooting is a concern as many times he has to be taken out of the game down the stretch because it can hurt the offense. That being said, his positives still outweigh his negatives and he is still only 22 years old with plenty of room to grow. Hard to imagine Detroit letting him go anywhere regardless of what it would cost.
The big man is definitely a beast and is more skilled than many expect. He patrols the paint and controls the boards while providing an offensive presence. Who knows what he is capable of if given a bigger role.
A tough, hard-nosed, gritty point guard who has no problems doing all of the dirty work on the floor and never stops working. He isn’t the most skilled or physically gifted, but he competes every night, can defend and knocks down open shots.
Sullinger has continued to grow in Boston and his offensive skill set has proven to translate to this level. He doesn’t have the requisite measurables that many look for in big men, but he makes up for it with skill and can be effective.