2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

Most NBA teams have played between 20 and 22 games so far this season, so we’ve hit the quarter pole of this year’s 82-game trek. It’s also been precisely a month since the inaugural edition of the Hoops Rumors 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings, so the time is right for an update. There’s been a bit of shuffling in the order, and the newest name on the list made no subtle impression to earn his way on it. Let’s break down this month’s rankings:

  1. LeBron James (player option) — The four-time MVP isn’t leaving Cleveland again, lest he be permanently cast in the villain’s role that fit him so poorly during his early days in Miami. But, his ability to hit the market and put pressure on the Cavs to continue to surround him with a roster capable of competing for championships defines “free agent power” and casts him at the top figure in this ranking. Last month: No. 1
  2. Kevin Love (player option) — The 26-year-old’s numbers are down, predictably, as more talented teammates than he’s ever had surround him in Cleveland, but he’s still an otherworldly talent. Love continues to insist that he has no plans of leaving the Cavs, though he said he’s talked in passing with Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony about playing together someday. He also called the Knicks “a great franchise to be a part of”, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote this month that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Love would end up on the Lakers next season. Last month: No. 2
  3. Marc Gasol — Re-signing Gasol is job one for the Grizzlies, according to GM Chris Wallace, and central to the team’s ability to do that will be the strength of its commitment to winning, Gasol says. That makes team’s 17-4 start an even more auspicious sign than it otherwise would be, and Gasol’s been a major catalyst, having upped his scoring average to 19.5 points per game, nearly five points better than his career high. All that success has the Knicks pessimistic about their chances to lure him to New York. Last month: No. 4
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge — New York reporters failed in their attempts to coax free agency chatter out of another logical Knicks target when the Blazers were in town recently, and while Knicks faithful may cling to the idea that Aldridge didn’t rule out leaving Portland, that seems a long shot. The Arn Tellem client said this past offseason that he intends to sign a new five-year deal with Portland this coming summer, and he spoke this month of his comfort with Portland and the Blazers. Last month: No. 3
  5. Jimmy Butler (restricted) — No soon-to-be free agent has lifted his stock during the first quarter of the NBA season as much as Butler has. The most significant flaws in his game last season were on offense , but he’s suddenly become Chicago’s leading scorer at 21.7 PPG, 8.6 PPG better than last year’s career high. Several executives around the league believe that the Happy Walters client will command the maximum salary if he keeps this up, though the Bulls seem poised to match any offers he receives. Last month: Unranked
  6. Kawhi Leonard (restricted) — The Spurs also appear ready to pounce should Leonard draw a maximum-salary offer sheet. The Brian Elfus client’s game is expanding again this year, as he’s seeing double-digit shot attempts per night for the first time, helping him to a career-best 14.8 PPG. He’s also putting up his best per-game marks in assists, rebounds and steals. Last month: No. 6
  7. Rajon Rondo — The ninth-year veteran has always struggled with his shot, but Rondo’s shooting percentage is down from every range outside of three feet from the basket, according to Basketball-Reference. He’s also scoring fewer than 10 points per game for the first time since he was a rookie. Still, Rondo is again leading the league in assists per game, and there appears to be mutual interest between Rondo and the Lakers, though Boston remains No. 1 on his list. A move to L.A. doesn’t appear the most likely outcome at this point, however, as the Celtics continue to value Rondo highly. Last month: No. 5
  8. Al Jefferson (player option) — The Hornets are off to a dreadful start, and much of the blame has fallen at the feet of Lance Stephenson, the team’s latest marquee free agent acquisition. But Jefferson’s numbers are down, and particularly his rebounding, as he’s grabbing just 7.8 boards per night after pulling down 10.8 RPG last year. The memory of his franchise-changing season last year will linger for quite some time, but with his 30th birthday looming next month, there’s cause for concern. Last month: No. 7
  9. Greg Monroe — It’s even uglier in Detroit than it’s been in Charlotte so far this season, but Monroe has soldiered on, with most of his per-36-minute marks holding steady even as he sees slightly fewer minutes in a crowded Pistons frontcourt. He’ll have a chance to be an unquestioned starter elsewhere next season, and the Hawks and Knicks are ready to pursue him. He’s also playfully spoken of playing with Celtics forward Jeff Green, though it’d be tough for him to land with Boston if Rondo is still there, and Atlanta would be an odd fit unless soon-to-be free agent Paul Millsap doesn’t re-sign. Last month: No. 9
  10. Goran Dragic (player option) — It’s no shock that Dragic hasn’t produced quite the way he did last season, and not just because 2013/14 was a career year. The backcourt logjam in Phoenix has reduced Dragic’s minutes and taken away some of his shot attempts, and his efficiency during his time on the floor, as measured by his PER, has returned to the level he displayed in 2012/13. Eric Bledsoe was injured much of last season and Isaiah Thomas was in Sacramento, so Dragic had free reign. The Suns will face pressure to convince him that sacrificing that to work for the greater collective is truly the choice he should make come July. Last month: No. 8

Dropped out: DeAndre Jordan (Last month: No. 10)

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Michael Nguyen
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Michael Nguyen
1 year 9 months ago

Sixers should put out a max offer to Jimmy Butler. Since no real SG in the Draft.

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