Throughout the playoffs, we've been tracking soon-to-be free agents week by week as they make their final impressions heading into the offseason. With 12 members of the Finals-bound Thunder possessing guaranteed contracts for next season, most of the cases have been closed. So, here's a look at the three impending free agents who made the most significant leaps throughout the entire postseason, and the three who took the greatest steps back.
Kevin Garnett, Celtics: Garnett and Tim Duncan were both carrying the banner for 36-year-old former power forwards getting it done at center in the playoffs, but in the conference finals Garnett has set himself apart. In the series, he's averaged 20.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, helping Boston to the cusp of the NBA Finals. For the playoffs as a whole, he's ninth in points per game (19.5), fourth in rebounds per game (10.5), and second in Basketball-Reference.com's defensive rating (93.5).
Roy Hibbert, Pacers (restricted): The most significant question surrounding Hibbert's postseason performance is why his 9.5 shot attempts per game were down from the 10.3 he saw in the regular season. That reflects much more poorly on his Pacers teammates than it does upon Hibbert, who shot 50% and controlled the boards to the tune of 11.2 RPG, the second highest rebounding average in the postseason. Though his team was eliminated in the conference semifinals, Hibbert is still second in total offensive rebounds for the postseason, with 45, and third in total blocks, with 34, in 11 games. His defensive rating of 94.8 slots fourth, right behind Garnett and the next man on this list.
Lavoy Allen, Sixers (restricted): One of Garnett's playoff combatants was almost equally as impressive in the playoffs, particularly considering he's less than a year removed from being the 50th pick in the draft. Allen logged just 19.7 minutes per game, but played them efficiently, posting a 17.2 PER. His defensive rating of 94.5 was the third best in the playoffs, between Garnett and Hibbert, and his 55.7 field goal percentage was fifth among qualifiers.
Ryan Anderson, Magic (restricted): Sure, he made 40% of his three-pointers, slightly better than the 39.3% regular season clip that helped him win the NBA's Most Improved Player award. Yet he was little more than a spot-up shooter in the postseason. He took only 2.8 shots per game from inside the arc, as opposed to 5.5 during the regular season. That explains why his 16.1 PPG for the season was cut to 9.6 in the playoffs. He also had drastic regressions in rebounding (7.7 to 4.6) and PER (21.2 to 7.2).
O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies (restricted): He had more turnovers (18) than made baskets (17) in the playoffs this year, making a strong case that he's unfit the spot duty at point guard he saw against the Clippers. Mayo made 27.4% of his field goals, 29.2% from three-point range, and compiled a PER of 7.9 — well below average. In a roundabout way, he may have created a little more bargaining power for himself this summer, as the Grizzlies may decline to tender him a qualifying offer to avoid the luxury tax, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Matt Barnes, Lakers: In the regular season, Barnes was an asset to the Lakers, rebounding and blocking shots at a higher rate than ever as he settled into the primary backup role at both wing positions. In the playoffs, he was so much of a liability that he barely saw the floor in the last four games against the Thunder. The extra rebounding and blocked shots disappeared, and Barnes shot just 27.1 percent from the field, including an atrocious 5-for-31 from three-point range.