2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

The regular season is almost over, and for some players, that means this week is the last opportunity to hit the court before they hit free agency. For most of the top free agents, the playoffs loom, and the postseason offers a chance to make a profound impression, whether positive or negative. Before that happens, here’s where the top members of the 2015 free agent class stand:

  1. LeBron James (player option) — James is on the verge of completing his first back-to-back seasons without winning the MVP since 2006/07 and 2007/08, but many still consider him the league’s best player. No shortage of teams will be hoping against hope that he’ll listen to their pitches if he opts out, as he’s reportedly likely to do, but it’s almost certain those teams will end up disappointed, and that he’ll return to the Cavs on another two-year max deal that gives him the most money and flexibility possible.  Last ranking: No. 1
  2. Kevin Love (player option) — There’s a strong chance that five straight seasons of averaging a double-double won’t become six for Love, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group points out, but even as Love’s stats continue to tumble as the season wears on, the issue appears more like one of context than declining talent. The former All-Star power forward has seemed like a poor fit with Cleveland, but Love told Haynes in January that he plans to opt in. Even if he doesn’t, and even if the Cavs wouldn’t want to pay him the max, a point some executives around the league have apparently questioned, it would be surprising if there weren’t multiple other max offers on the table. Last ranking: No. 2
  3. Kawhi Leonard (restricted) — Leonard’s monster stretch run has vaulted the Spurs from seventh place in the Western Conference into a chance for the second seed, and it’s catapulted him from seventh to third in these rankings. Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News wrote in early March that there was little that could happen this spring that would change the value of the max or near-max deal Leonard would receive this summer, but if Leonard wasn’t a max player then, he is now. The Celtics, and presumably others, are expected to propose offer sheets for the Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but the Spurs would be poised to matchLast ranking: No. 7
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge — It’s a tough call between Aldridge and Gasol, and for most teams, it would probably come down to which would be the better fit. We’ll give the nod to Aldridge, who bumped his production back up in March after a dip in February as he continues to play with a thumb injury that was to keep him out six to eight weeks. The power forward spoke recently of the darker days that marked his relationship with the Trail Blazers in the past, but he still seems likely to re-sign, as he said this past summer that he intends to do. Last ranking: No. 4
  5. Marc Gasol — Neither Gasol nor the Grizzlies are playing as well as they did earlier in the season, but that probably won’t change the dynamics at play. The 30-year-old is still averaging a career high 17.3 points this season, one in which he’s shifted some of his attention from defense to offense. The SpursKnicks and others will surely give chase, but Gasol’s longstanding connection to Memphis still looms largeLast ranking: No. 3
  6. Jimmy Butler (restricted) — Injury has helped stall Butler’s rise up this list, but he’s back in the lineup, and a strong playoff run could help him climb another few spots. The Bulls reportedly plan a max offer, and while other teams may test whether Chicago follows through, the consequences of losing Butler would likely be too devastating for the capped-out Bulls to let him slip away. Last ranking: No. 5
  7. Greg Monroe — A move to the Knicks is far from preordained, the big man insists, but while the Pistons would like him back and agent David Falk says it remains a possibility, Monroe still seems unlikely to re-sign with Detroit, as I wrote when I examined his free agent stock. He’s only played 11 games since the start of March because of injury, but he did plenty to enhance his value this year. Last ranking: No. 6
  8. DeAndre Jordan — Jordan makes it clear that he’s a major fan of Doc Rivers even when the big man has spoken of his enthusiasm for his free agency ahead. Jordan has become an elite rebounder under Rivers, and even though he has staunchly limited offensive range, he knows his boundaries and is poised to lead the NBA in field goal percentage for a third straight year. Last ranking: No. 9
  9. Goran Dragic (player option) — The point guard has dropped hints that he envisions a future with the Heat, and while the Lakers still seem like a possibility, Miami appears to have an edge. Dragic has regressed after a breakout season last year, and his numbers with the Heat are similar to what they were in the crowded Phoenix backcourt this season before the trade. Few teams lack quality point guards, but those that do seem intent on acquiring one, as the Heat proved when they gave up two first-round picks to deal for him. Given that investment, it would seem the Heat will spend whatever is necessary to retain him. Last ranking: No. 8
  10. Draymond Green (restricted) — A legitimate chance exists that Green will enter free agency as the Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year and an NBA champion. Even if he misses out on all three, it will still have been an impressive 2014/15 for the versatile 25-year-old whose insertion into the Warriors starting lineup helped lift the team to the league’s best regular season record. Golden State appears ready to match any offer sheet, and while there’s seemingly mutual interest between Green and the Pistons, the Warriors control the process. The question is whether Green ends up with the max, and Hoops Rumors readers believe he will. Last ranking: unranked

Dropped out: Rajon Rondo (Last month: No. 10)

Earlier in the season, we looked at the next 10 free agents who would be on this list, and we’ll do so again this time. The names here again demonstrate the depth of this year’s free agent class, assuming most of the players with options hit the market:

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