Although some top-tier players who were expected to hit free
agency this coming summer have already signed extensions, the 2022
NBA free-agent class will feature quite a few stars.
ranking the best guards and
forwards set to hit the open market, let's complete this series
by highlighting the top-10 big men up for grabs this summer.
1. Deandre Ayton — Phoenix Suns —
Deandre Ayton is the crown jewel of this year's free-agent
center crop. Although the Suns surprisingly chose not to offer him
a max extension last offseason (worth approximately $173 million
over five years), Phoenix is still in the driver's seat, as the
franchise can match any offer the former No. 1 overall pick
receives this summer. Expect them to do just that for a young,
improving player who is a foundational cornerstone of a team with
2. Jusuf Nurkic — Portland Trail Blazers —
After a disappointing 2020-21 campaign, Jusuf Nurkic bounced
back impressively this season, averaging 15.0 points, a career-high
11.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 53.5% from
the floor. Nurkic has been sidelined by plantar fasciitis for the
past month, and will likely miss the rest of the season. However,
he'll likely be ready to rock by the start of training camp next
September. Due to Nurk's tight bond with Blazers point guard Damian
Lillard, many pundits expect Portland to re-sign the big man to a
3. Mitchell Robinson — New York Knicks —
The Knicks technically have until June 30 to ink Mitchell
Robinson to an extension worth up to $48 million over four years.
However, the two sides have not yet reached an agreement, so it
appears Mitch Rob will be able to test the market for his services.
While he has flashed All-NBA Defense upside in short spurts
throughout his four-year career, Robinson has battled numerous
injuries and baffling inconsistency. His regression at the
free-throw line (he's shooting below 50% in each of the past two
seasons) is obviously worrisome as well. Nevertheless, few big men
can supply the type of high-flying athleticism and rim-protection
he brings to the table.
4. Bobby Portis — Milwaukee Bucks — Player
With Brook Lopez sidelined for most of the 2021-22 season, Bobby
Portis stepped in and stepped up for the Bucks, starting 57 of the
team's last 58 games. He is averaging career-highs in scoring (15.1
points), boards (9.1), steals (0.8), blocks (0.8) and made
three-pointers (2.0). Portis is currently one of only two players
in the NBA averaging at least 9 rebounds and 2 made treys per game.
(Luka Doncic and Karl-Anthony Towns are the other two members of
this club.) Portis' player option for 2022-23 is only worth $4.6
million, so he is expected to opt-out and search for a significant
5. Ivica Zubac — Los Angeles Clippers — Team
Ivica Zubac's team option for next season is $7.5 million, so
it's an easy decision for the Clippers to pick it up. He just
turned 25 years old last week and continues to improve steadily.
Zubac is posting career-highs in just about every statistical
category this season.
6. Montrezl Harrell — Charlotte Hornets —
Montrezl Harrell has had another productive and efficient season
off the bench, averaging 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists,
while shooting 63.9% across 62 games for both the Wizards and
Charlotte Hornets (following a midseason trade).
7. Mo Bamba — Orlando Magic — Restricted
After struggling mightily over his first three years in the NBA,
Mo Bamba, the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft, is enjoying the
best year of his pro career. He is on pace to become the first
player in Magic franchise history to average more than 1.5 blocks
and 1.0 made three-pointers per game over an entire season.
However, the Magic inked center Wendell Carter Jr. to a four-year,
$50 million contract extension back in October and have Mo Wagner
(brother of their prized rookie, Franz) under contract next season
as well. In addition, lineups with both WCJ and Bamba have not
performed well. Thus, Orlando will likely let the former lottery
pick walk if another team offers a contract the team is
8. Nic Claxton — Brooklyn Nets — Restricted
Nic Claxton continues to impress in limited playing time off the
bench for Brooklyn. His per-36 minute averages this season are
outstanding: 15.2 points (on 65.1% shooting), 9.6 rebounds and 2.0
blocks. The Nets have limited depth due to the high salaries of
their top players, and billionaire owner Joe Tsai is unafraid of
paying the luxury tax, so Brooklyn is expected to match any
reasonable offer Claxton receives.
9. Andre Drummond — Brooklyn Nets —
Andre Drummond has increased his value following the trade that
sent him from Philadelphia to Brooklyn. He has started all 14 games
he's played as a Net, and is averaging 11.4 points (on 62.5%
shooting), 9.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks for Brooklyn. Drummond can
boost his value significantly with a strong showing in the
10. Thomas Bryant — Washington Wizards —
Thomas Bryant inked a three-year, $25 million deal back in 2019
and played very well for the Wiz during the first year of that
pact, averaging 13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in under
25 minutes a night. He also started the following season
impressively before tearing his ACL in early 2021. Bryant returned
to action in January, but has seen his minutes reduced following
Washington's acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis. Still just 24 years
old, Bryant could be a worthwhile investment for a team in the
market for a young big.
Best of the Rest:
LaMarcus Aldridge, JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, Isaiah
Hartenstein, Hassan Whiteside, Derrick Favors (player option),
Tristan Thompson, Kevon Looney, JaMychal Green, Frank Kaminsky,
Mike Muscala (team option), Bismack Biyombo