While it doesn’t have a ton of star power, the 2020 free agency class is full of quality players, some of whom have tremendous upside. While no team will be getting their franchises savior this offseason, plenty of contenders will be able to stock up on solid role players. Here are some underrated players who will be available in 2020.
Christian Wood fought hard to get to this position. He went undrafted out of UNLV in 2015 and bounced around the league, playing for four teams in three seasons, before finally finding a home with the Detroit Pistons this year. Wood started the season on Detroit’s bench but his promising play and the departure of Andre Drummond earned him a starting spot.
Before the season was suspended, Wood went on a 12-game stretch of dominance as Detroit’s starting power forward. He averaged over 21 points and nine rebounds a game while shooting nearly 41 percent from beyond the arc. Practically overnight he went from a solid bench piece to a highly coveted prospect. As an unrestricted free agent this summer, Wood is in line to get a big pay raise either from Detroit or another team.
Over the last few seasons, Jerami Grant has cemented himself as an archetype of the 3-and-D role. As a key bench player on the Nuggets this season, he has been solid and consistent, averaging almost a block and a steal per night while shooting over 40 percent from deep. At just 26 years old, Grant still has his best basketball ahead of him and many contending teams will be looking to lock him up on a team-friendly contract.
There is still a possibility that Grant will not be available this summer, he has a $9.3 million player option with Denver that he could accept. But there is a big possibility that Grant decides he can get more on the open market. Future contenders with cap space such as the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks may see Grant as a solid investment for the future.
Just two seasons after being selected 4th overall in the NBA draft, it seemed like Josh Jacksons’ time in the league was in jeopardy. After two massively disappointing seasons in Phoenix, where Jackson shot poorly and was a liability on defense, he was traded to Memphis, who declined his fourth-year rookie option.
Jackson didn’t debut with the Grizzlies until late January due to a leg injury but played well during his first 18 games, especially after the all-star break. He reached a career-high in true shooting percentage, breaking the 50 percent barrier for the first time mainly due to much better shooting around the rim. Even more notable was his improvement on the defensive end. For the first time in his career, Jackson had a positive defensive box plus-minus and was notably more active and mobile. Since the Grizzlies declined his option, Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent and should attract some interest as a cheap scoring option with lots of potential.
Derrick Jones Jr.
When Derrick Jones Jr. entered the league, he was little more than a bit player who would throw down the occasional highlight-reel jam. But over the past two seasons in Miami, he has evolved into a versatile role player capable of defending a number of positions. Only a league-average defender during his first two seasons, Jones now ranks as a solidly above-average player on the defensive end. This is mainly due to his massive seven-foot wingspan, which allows him to cover guards as well as larger forwards.
He is also starting to improve on the offensive end of the court. While he does not possess a good three-point shot, Jones is an elite finisher around the rim thanks to his freakish athleticism. He shoots 73 percent at the rim and 67 percent on two-pointers overall. While teams are rightfully worried about his shooting from three-point land, Jones still has the quality to be a solid rotation player for a playoff team.
A darkhorse candidate for an all-defensive team this season, Kris Dunn will be getting his first taste of NBA free agency later this year. After a poor start to his career in Minnesota and subsequent trade to Chicago, Kris Dunn has carved out a role for himself as a solid facilitator and elite defender. Where Dunn struggles is on the offensive side of the ball, this season he is shooting just under 26 percent from deep and has an offensive box plus-minus of negative 3.7.
The main comparison that Dunn gets is to Celtics guard Marcus Smart, another elite defender who struggled shooting the basketball early in his career. Smart turned his shooting around over the past two seasons and interested teams hope that Dunn can do the same. He is a restricted free agent but Chicago is unlikely to match any offers since they have two point guards locked up in Coby White and Tomas Satoransky. Dunn will be an interesting option for contenders such as the Clippers and Celtics, who are in need of affordable backup guards.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference
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