The 2019 free agent class is shaping up to be one of the most stacked in recent memory. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving headline the class, and stars like Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, Al Horford (player option), Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton (player option), D’Angelo Russell (RFA), Eric Bledsoe and Nikola Vucevic make this a great offseason for teams with cap space. Even with how top-heavy the market is, it’s also saturated with quality role players and potential stars in the making. So who are the best mid-tier and role players on the market?
1. Julius Randle (Player Option)
While arguably a (borderline) star, Randle definitely doesn’t get the attention he deserves for his level of play. He has a player option next year for a little over $9 million, but it would greatly behoove him to see what the market has to offer in terms of a longer-term deal. Randle is just 24 years old, and this season, he’s averaging 20.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3 assists on 54% from the field. He’s a valuable small-ball five who can play bully ball and even stretch the floor with his 34.3% three ball.
For a team with a solid center, Randle can wreak havoc on opposing benches as he’s done this season, however, he’s also capable of taking on a larger starting role.
2. Nikola Mirotic (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Mirotic is one of the premier stretch fours in the league, and at 28 years old, a long-term contract wouldn’t be wasted on him. This year he’s putting up 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 36.8% from deep on 7.2 attempts per game. For a team that needs some presence on the glass and some floor spacing in their frontcourt, Mirotic is a solid pick up.
3. Bojan Bogdanovic (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Bogdanovic is averaging 16.8 points and 4.0 rebounds, and he’s an absolute sniper from downtown shooting 42.6% on 4.7 attempts per game. The main upside of Bojan is that he should be relatively affordable, and he’s something of a Klay Thompson-lite. For reference, Klay scores 21.9 points on 18.2 field goal attempts per game, compared to Bojan’s 16.8 points on 12.2 field goal attempts per game. Furthermore, Bogdanovic has a defensive rating of 103.8 and owns a 43.1 DFG%, compared to Thompson’s 109.0 defensive rating 42.2 DFG%.
While these aren’t the sole metrics to illustrate defense, the point is that Bojan is a good player on both ends of the floor, and with a bigger role, he could likely average 20 points per game as well.
4. Marcus Morris (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Morris is averaging career highs across the board with his 14.5 points and 6.1 rebounds on 47.6 from the floor and 40.9% from deep. Morris will be 30 in September, but he’s a great defender and a solid stretch four that can fit well in any lineup.
5. Rudy Gay (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Much like Morris, Gay is having a career year efficiency wise, putting up 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists on an impressive 51.9% from the field and 43.5% from three. While he’ll be 33 by the start of next year, for teams that need a reliable scorer at the forward spot, Gay is a solid pick up for a one to three-year deal.
6. Brook Lopez (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Lopez is averaging 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds, and he shoots an incredible 37.2% from three on 6.5 attempts per game. While his rebound totals might seem low, Lopez is excellent at boxing out, and he plays a Steven Adams-like role in which he allows Giannis to get the rebounds to push the break.
There aren’t many seven-footers in the league that can shoot the ball like Splash Mountain, and against teams with solid interior defenders, the ability to stretch the floor with your center and clear the lane is extremely valuable.
7. Terrence Ross (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Ross is averaging a career high in points with 14.6 per game off the bench. He also puts up in 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting a solid 38.1 percent from three on 6.4 attempts per contest. Best of all, he does it all in just over 26 minutes per game off the bench.
For a team looking for a nice backup two guard who is still young and can stroke it from deep, Ross is an exceptional pickup.
8. Jeremy Lin (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Lin is one of the best back-up point guards in the game, and in just under 20 minutes a night backing up Trae Young, he’s averaging 10.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Now he’s a Raptor.
He could start on a point guard-less team like the Phoenix Suns, and nearly every team is in need of a solid floor general while their starter takes a breather.
9. Rajon Rondo (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Rondo is about to turn 33, so it’s uncertain if any team will offer him more than a one-year deal. Even from the bench, however, Rondo is an impactful player. In limited playing time this season between his suspension and injury, he’s averaging 8.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game. He’s even shooting 42.3% from three, albeit on just 2.3 attempts per game.
Much like Lin, Rondo could easily start on a team like the Suns who entirely lack a point guard. In Rondo’s case, however, he’s much better suited on a team with a young point guard who he can both mentor and back-up with meaningful minutes. Rondo is a proven winner in the playoffs, and he knows how to compete with the best of them.
10. Ed Davis (Unrestricted Free Agent)
While he isn’t a household name, Davis is one of the best rebounders and most impactful back-up centers in the game. This season, he’s averaging 5.9 points and a whopping 8.6 rebounds in just 18.3 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, Davis grabs 17 rebounds a game this year (for his career it’s about 12 boards per contest which is still impressive).
He’s excellent at creating second-chance opportunities for his team, and he’d be an awesome pick-up for any team needing to bolster their second unit’s frontcourt. There’s a reason that Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were upset when Portland opted to not re-sign him.
Featured image courtesy of Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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