A look ahead at the NBA’s top 2020 free agents

With the 2019 free agency season behind us, let’s take a look at the top five players who should be up for grabs next summer.

Let’s be honest: the 2020 free agency period won’t be nearly as wild as the one the NBA just went through. There will nevertheless be enough interesting players hitting the market for every team to make a move — some on their way up and looking for a pay raise, and others searching for a team where their vast experience will be considered a major asset.

Here is our list of the top five unrestricted 2020 free agents.

Kyle Lowry

One of those veterans will be Kyle Lowry. He’ll be 34 years old and an unrestricted free agent next year. And given his teammate Fred VanVleet’s (another 2020 free agent) rise as a legitimate and even clutch point guard, we expect Lowry to look for a new home next summer. Lowry probably won’t be able to claim another $33 million per year contract, but will be the best available point guard. At his age, he continues to play heavy minutes (34.2 minutes per game) and do what a good PG does. Last season, he averaged 14.2 points per game, 8.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. His shooting accuracy is not stellar (41.1 FG%, 34.7 3P%, 83% FT), but his net rating (difference between offensive and defensive ratings) remains an excellent 10.7. Chris Paul proved you can still get a major contract as an aging PG and Lowry should be high on the acquisition list of many a team.

Danilo Gallinari

Danilo Gallinari has a tendency to fly below the radar when NBA-focused media starts talking trade and free agency. That should change next summer. At 31 years of age (32 next summer), the 11-year veteran, 6-foot-10 Italian forward will no doubt be a top prospect. He is coming off a career season, averaging 30.3 minutes per game in 68 contests played, with 19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and a low 1.5 turnovers. His net rating is a positive 2.3 thanks to a 46.3 FG%, 43.3 three-pt FG%, and 90.4 FT%. At $22 million a year currently, that’s a lot of bang for the buck.

DeMar DeRozan

After seven years in Toronto, DeMar DeRozan signed a five-year, $139 million deal at the time the second-largest contract in NBA history. With the fifth year being a player option, DeRozan will effectively be a UFA next July. Now wearing a San Antonio Spurs jersey following the Kawhi Leonard trade, the 10-year veteran shooting guard is still one of the best in the business. His average defense (0.5 blocks, 1.1 steals) and dismal three-point shooting (15.6 3-pt FG%) are offset by a productive offense: 21.2 points, 49.2% FG, six rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. Though his net rating is a mere +0.1, teams in need will be hard pressed finding a better SG in next year’s market. As for his chances of staying in San Antonio, odds are the team will want to keep the much cheaper Marco Bellinelli and develop their younger talent in Bryn Forbes, Lonnie Walker IV, and Quinndary Weatherspoon.

Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond has been somewhat overlooked for the simple reason that he plays for the Detroit Pistons, a non-championship contending team. While DeMarcus Cousins and Joel Embiid were getting all the attention, Drummond was grabbing 15.6 rebounds per game this past season, making him, for the third time, the NBA rebounding champion. He also managed to score 14.1 points, 1.6 blocks, 1.3 steals and 1.4 assists per game. At only 26 years of age, the 6-foot-11, 280-pound seven-year veteran is going to earn a justified $27,093,019 with a player option of $28,751,774 for 2020. Drummond is a workhorse (33.5 minutes per game), and a reliable one who only missed three games this past season. He should have no trouble finding a significantly higher contract once he hits the open market.

Anthony Davis

In the same fashion as Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, the 26-year-old seven-year veteran now playing for the Lakers, is a bargain (by NBA standards) with his $27 million salary. With teams outbidding one another, he should be in for a max contract of a far superior value to his $28,751,775 2020-21 player option. Though he only played 56 games this past season, Davis scored 25.9 points on 33 minutes per game. He shoots at a rate of 51% (33.1 three-point FG%), commands 12 rebounds per game along with 3.9 assists and 2.4 blocks, making him the second-best blocker in the league behind Miles Turner. After a full season under the spotlight playing along side LeBron James in LAL, his value is bound to climax by July 1, 2020, making him the most sought-after ball player in our book.

The best of the rest

Should VanVleet continue to shine and increase his scoring production (11 points per game in 2018-19), he could potentially make a big splash during the next offseason. However, his value will be affected by the upcoming 2020 draft, one said to be loaded with quality point guards. He will certainly appear on a lot of teams’ 2020 target list either way.

Otto Porter Jr., the 26-year-old 6-foot-8 wing now playing for the Chicago Bulls, could be another hot commodity. He just had himself a career-year, scoring 13.9 points per game (17.5 as member of the Bulls), shooting 46.5 percent FG including 40.6 three-point FG percent. He also takes care of the ball with only 1.2 turnovers per game.

The last (and perhaps most intriguing) player is Gordon Hayward. He is 29 years old, healthy, and is expected to play near his best level this season. Now three years removed from the 2016-17 season during which he averaged 21.9 points with an impressive 39.8 percent from three, it’s up to Hayward to reclaim his glory and find a new team with a lot of cap space. Unless he decides to exercise his $34 million player option and stay in Boston, that is.

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