2016 Free Agent Power Rankings

Top 50 NBA Free Agents Of 2016

The NBA’s free agent period is about to get underway, and it should be a fascinating month of July. With the salary cap expected to rise at least $24MM, from $70MM to $94MM, teams around the NBA will have more money than ever to spend on available players, and there will likely be some sticker shock on some of the deals signed this summer.

While the free agent recruiting period begins on July 1st at 12:01am eastern time, teams aren’t permitted to finalize any signings until the July moratorium lifts on July 7th at 12:01am. During the next six days, however, we can count on teams and players reaching tentative agreements — as last year’s DeAndre Jordan saga taught us though, those agreements are hardly set in stone.

With free agency set to begin, be sure to check out our full list of 2016 free agents, and use our 2016 free agent tracker to keep tabs on the latest contract agreements.

Here’s our breakdown of the top 50 NBA free agents on the market this summer:

Read more

2016 Free Agent Power Rankings

Two months from now, it’ll be the 10th day of NBA free agency and most of the major names will already be off the board. Time is ticking toward the meat of the offseason even as the playoffs churn forward. It’s been a rough postseason for many of the best players on expiring contracts as several within our top 10 suffered injuries, failed to perform up to their normal standards, or both. It just makes what the top name on this list decides to do all the more important. Here’s our latest ranking of the elite 2016 NBA free agents:

  1. Kevin Durant — Last season’s injury seems like a distant memory as the Warriors and Spurs, who averaged 70 wins between them this year, prepare to make major overhauls if necessary to land the former MVP. The Thunder would need to make no such changes but seemingly need to prove they can hang with two historically great teams in the playoffs. Regardless, the next two months will be fascinating for Durant and the balance power atop the NBA. Last time: No. 1.
  2. LeBron James (player option) — It’s easy to forget, amid the Durant hubbub and more competitive series elsewhere, that James is about to hit free agency for the third summer in a row. Still, no serious questions about his commitment to Cleveland have surfaced this year, and any uncertainty surrounding the Cavs will likely have much more to do with his supporting cast should the team again fall short of a title. Last time: No. 2.
  3. Andre Drummond (restricted) — The Pistons center slumped down the stretch, and Tristan Thompson and the Cavaliers held him to just nine rebounds per game in the playoffs after he averaged a league-high 14.8 in the regular season. Still, the momentum toward new “Hack-a-Shaq” rules promises to mitigate his poor free-throw shooting and enhance his value to the Pistons, who’ll be keeping him this summer. Last time: No. 3.
  4. Al Horford — His rebounding also disappeared against Thompson and the Cavs, and it wasn’t otherwise a stellar postseason for the big man who turns 30 in June, but Horford embodies the versatility required of modern centers, especially given his sudden development of a 3-point game. His age will concern some teams, but assuming his comments this week don’t mean he’s completely sold on staying in Atlanta, he’s the best of the obtainable free agent big men. Last time: No. 5
  5. Dwight Howard (player option) — Some teams that don’t mind baggage and have faith that Howard’s declining offensive production was merely a function of Houston’s offense will rank the new Perry Rogers client in front of Horford. Howard is not what he used to be, but he remains an elite rebounder. The Magic, Bucks, Blazers and Hornets are reportedly the front-runners for him at last check. Last time: No. 6.
  6. DeMar DeRozan (player option) — Perhaps no one has had as disconcerting a playoff run as DeRozan has. His points per game, free-throw attempts per game and, most notoriously, his field-goal percentage, are all down markedly. Still, it’s probably not enough of a slump to dissuade the Raptors from committing a max deal to a player who’s expressed his affection for Toronto at every opportunity and who’s coming off career highs in points per game and 3-point percentage. Last time: No. 4.
  7. Mike Conley — It was a lost spring in Memphis as Conley was among the many Grizzlies who suffered season-ending injuries. It’s never a positive sign for anyone’s free agency to succumb to a sore Achilles tendon, but it didn’t tear, and it doesn’t appear as though the injury to his left leg will threaten his long-term health. More worrisome for the Grizzlies is Conley’s wait-and-see approach to his free agency, seemingly opening the door for teams with cap flexibility and a need at point guard, with the Nets and Knicks most prominent among them. Last time: No. 7.
  8. Bradley Beal (restricted) — It was an up-and-down year for Beal, who averaged a career-high 17.4 points per game but shot below 40% from 3-point range for the first time since he was a rookie. He played in 55 games, the fewest of his four NBA seasons, and admitted he’ll probably have to watch his minutes for the rest of his career. Still, it’s unlikely to dissuade the Wizards from committing the max to a promising talent who’s still only 22. Last time: No. 8.
  9. Nicolas Batum — An injury variously described as a left foot strain and a sprained left ankle interrupted the playoffs for Batum, and though he made it back to play before Charlotte’s seventh-game elimination at the hands of Miami, he clearly wasn’t himself. That probably won’t matter this summer, with the Hornets seemingly prepared to go all-in to keep him the Bouna Ndiaye client who fit in well during his lone season with Charlotte. Last time: No. 9.
  10. Hassan Whiteside — It’s oddly fitting that the top 10 would end with a player who’s injured and whose numbers declined in the playoffs, given how the past month and a half has gone for the top free agents of 2016. Still, Whiteside regained his starting role just before the postseason and posted five double-doubles in 10 playoff games. Agent Sean Kennedy is closing in on the opportunity to take Whiteside from the minimum salary to the max in the span of less than two years. Last time: No. 10.

His miserable half-season in Dallas still clouds his reputation, but Rajon Rondo delivered one of his best seasons yet in the relative obscurity of Sacramento, where DeMarcus Cousins and former coach George Karl siphoned most of the headlines. The 30-year-old point guard who tied his career high with 11.7 assists and shattered his previous high with 36.5% 3-point shooting leads our next 10 free agents:

11. Rajon Rondo
12. Dwyane Wade
13. Chandler Parsons (player option)
14. Harrison Barnes (restricted)
15. Evan Fournier (restricted)
16. Ryan Anderson
17. Pau Gasol (player option)
18. Luol Deng
19. Kent Bazemore
20. Jordan Clarkson (restricted and subject to Gilbert Arenas Provision)

See all the previous editions of our rankings here. See the full list of 2016 free agents here.

2016 Free Agent Power Rankings

The regular season ends three weeks from tonight, and while the playoffs lie ahead, precious little time remains for the top 2016 NBA free agents to make their cases on the court to front offices around the league. We’ve ranked the best of this year’s free agent class from time to time since last summer’s free agent market died down, and amid a crucial stretch run, it’s time to do so again. Here’s where they stand:

  1. Kevin Durant — The prize of this year’s free agency is addressing the summer ahead more often now as it approaches, but only in general terms, and while the Warriors and Spurs are threats to land him, the appeal of staying “home” in Oklahoma City still looms large. Last time: No. 1.
  2. LeBron James (player option) — We can’t accuse LeBron of not having fun with his ability to hit free agency every year. His cryptic messages via social media raise eyebrows, and sometimes he needn’t even say anything to cause a stir, as was the case when he unfollowed the Cavs on Twitter this week. Still, he risks turning his beloved northeast Ohio into a land of antipathy if he dares leave Cleveland again. Last time: No. 2.
  3. Andre Drummond (restricted) — The outcome of Drummond’s free agency is essentially preordained, since both sides were on board with not doing an extension this past fall and allowing the Pistons greater cap flexibility before an inevitable max-contract signing in the summer. His numbers have dipped after a strong start, but it’s hard to argue with 16.5 points and 14.9 rebounds per game overall. Last time: No. 4.
  4. DeMar DeRozan (player option) — The 26-year-old shooting guard has been pouring it on in March, averaging 27.6 points per game as he makes the Raptors even more fortunate that he’d like to spend his entire career with the organization. Max offers reportedly await from elsewhere, but Toronto is certain to shell out whatever it takes to hang on to its homegrown star. Last time: No. 7.
  5. Al Horford — The delineation between Horford and the next man on this list is likely arbitrary and comes down to whether a team is looking for a quiet, consistent inside force to plug in as a complementary star or a polarizing figure with higher upside but more baggage. The Hawks didn’t find the overwhelming trade offer they were reportedly holding out for at the deadline, but that doesn’t mean Horford won’t draw plenty of interest on the open market, with the Magic looming as a threatLast time: No. 4.
  6. Dwight Howard (player option) — NBA observers have learned through the years that it’s virtually impossible to predict what Howard will do months in advance. New agent Perry Rogers, who represented Shaquille O’Neal, will help guide Howard through his apparent interest in the BucksKnicks and surely others. The prospect of a Rockets return seems unlikely, but you never say never with Howard. Last time: No. 6.
  7. Mike Conley — The 28-year-old point guard was playing some of his best basketball when he went out with Achilles tendinitis earlier this month, averaging 17.6 points, 6.4 assists and 1.6 turnovers per game in 14 contests since the beginning of February. His relatively low position on this list is probably just a placeholder until he proves his health. Last time: No. 5.
  8. Bradley Beal (restricted) — An opposing GM said that he’s “scared” of the shooting guard because of his injury history. Beal would rank much more highly if not for that, given his 17.7 points per game this season, 39.9% career 3-point percentage and the fact that his next birthday, in June, will be only his 23rd. Last time: No. 8.
  9. Nicolas Batum — The Hornets swingman has been clamoring for a place in the top 10 all season, and amid a March in which he’s averaged 18.6 points, his best scoring month of the season, we’ll give him the long overdue honor. He was reportedly likely to receive max offers as of January, and that seems a near-certainty now. The mystery is in where he’ll end up in what promises to be one of the most fascinating free agent pursuits of the summer. Last time: No. 11.
  10. Hassan Whiteside — The Heat big man probably wouldn’t be here if Chandler Parsons were healthy, but as difficult as it is to put a reserve in the top 10, Whiteside is no average bench player. His performance Tuesday, when he went 10 for 11 for 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, shows the vast potential of the one-time journeyman who’ll turn 27 in June. Last time: No. 10.

We don’t always carry the rankings past the top 10, but we’ll do our next 10 here:

11. Chandler Parsons (player option)
12. Harrison Barnes (restricted)
13. Rajon Rondo
14. Dwyane Wade
15. Pau Gasol (player option)
16. Ryan Anderson
17. Evan Fournier (restricted)
18. Kent Bazemore
19. Jordan Clarkson (Gilbert Arenas Provision)
20. Jared Sullinger (restricted)

See all the previous editions of our rankings here. See the full list of 2016 free agents here.

2016 Free Agent Power Rankings

The trade deadline has the spotlight in February, but fueling much of the movement will be the anticipation of the summer ahead, when a booming salary cap figures to make it a lucrative time to be a free agent. We’re ranking those at the front of the line to snag that cash, just as we’ve done from time to time since last summer’s free agent market died down. Here’s where the top 2016 free agents stand as the NBA enters a pivotal month:

  1. Kevin Durant — No one’s better than the New York media at eliciting a response from prospective free agents who’ve been otherwise reluctant to talk. Durant’s respect for the charm of Madison Square Garden aside, he’s given no major hints that he’s ready to leave Oklahoma City. Of course, the Thunder still have half a season and two Western Conference juggernauts to overcome, and nothing’s settled yet. Last time: No. 1.
  2. LeBron James (player option) — He might not have his top choice as coach, but the Cavs have given LeBron someone he apparently likes better than David Blatt, and the results, save for a hiccup against the Bulls in Tyronn Lue‘s first outing, have been encouraging so far. Last time: No. 2.
  3. Andre Drummond (restricted) — No, he can’t shoot free throws, but Drummond does so much to offset that. The league’s leading rebounder is also tops in defensive win shares, according to Basketball Reference. It’s enough to vault him into the No. 3 spot here, though it’s a virtual certainty he’ll remain with the Pistons. Last time: No. 4.
  4. Al Horford — Recent reports that the Hawks aren’t entirely certain he’ll re-sign and that the Celtics have asked the Hawks about him cast doubt on the future whereabouts of the once-again Wasserman Media Group client, but there’s no doubting his game. Horford’s sudden addition of the 3-point shot to his arsenal this season adds intrigue, even if he’s only hitting them at a 33.1% clip. Last time: No. 5.
  5. Mike Conley — It was a tough January for the usually durable 28-year-old point guard who missed six games with a sore left Achilles tendon and averaged just 11.6 points in the eight that he played. He’ll no doubt return to more familiar form, but for now, he goes down a couple of pegs. Last time: No. 3.
  6. Dwight Howard (player option) — The 30-year-old is exhibiting some self-awareness this season, one in which he’s concentrated his shot attempts to within 3 feet of the basket like never before, as Basketball-Reference shows. Consequently, he’s nearly at a career high in field goal percentage, and his rebounding numbers are better after a regression in his injury-shortened campaign last season. Last time: No. 6.
  7. DeMar DeRozan (player option) — Even the 26-year-old’s maligned 3-point shooting is up to a nearly-decent 31.8% this season, a well-timed career year for the Aaron Goodwin client. Max offers reportedly await, but DeRozan has repeatedly expressed his affection for Toronto and the Raptors, saying recently he’d like to spend his entire career with the organizationLast time: No. 8.
  8. Bradley Beal (restricted) — Beal’s admitted that he’ll probably have to deal with a minutes limit for the rest of his career, his defense has slipped, and an opposing GM said that he’s “scared” of the shooting guard because of his track record of injuries. Red flags abound, but it’s remarkably tough to see Washington turning its back on a 22-year-old averaging 18.1 points and shooting 39.3% from 3-point land. Last time: No. 7.
  9. Harrison Barnes (restricted) — He lacks eye-popping stats in part because of all the talent around him, but the numbers that matter — a 44-4 record and his 24th birthday this May — point to a significant payday ahead for the new Jeff Schwartz clientLast time: No. 10.
  10. Hassan Whiteside — The league’s leader in blocks per game did himself no favors when he said recently that his upcoming free agency weighs into his decision-making about whether to play with injury. Questions about his approach to the game abound, but he’s still talented enough and, turning only 27 in June, young enough to loom as a tantalizing figure on the market. Last time: No. 9.

We don’t always carry the rankings past the top 10, but we’ll do our next 10 here. Batum, who’s likely in line for the max, was a particularly difficult omission from the main group:

11. Nicolas Batum
12. Rajon Rondo
13. Dwyane Wade
14. Pau Gasol (player option)
15. Chandler Parsons (player option)
16. Ryan Anderson
17. Kent Bazemore
18. Evan Fournier (restricted)
19. Eric Gordon
20. Deron Williams (player option)

See all the previous editions of our rankings here. See the full list of 2016 free agents here.

Think one of these soon-to-be free agents should be higher on the list? Lower? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

2016 Free Agent Power Rankings

Tuesday is the unofficial start of trade season in the NBA, but most if not all of the moves that take place will happen with this summer’s free agency in mind. So, we’ll update our Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings before players start changing places.

It promises to be a wild offseason, with the salary cap projected to catapult to $89MM. Many executives and agents told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News they believe it’ll go as high as $95MM. The common narrative is that teams will have more money to spend than worthy free agents on which to spend it, though the top of the class is as strong as it gets, with Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

Durant has maintained mystery surrounding his free agency, though he’s given no indication he wants out of Oklahoma City. James almost certainly won’t leave Cleveland. Three others among our top 10 free agents are restricted, giving their respective teams the edge to keep them. Still, intrigue remains, particularly with fluctuating values. Joakim Noah, Timofey Mozgov and Roy Hibbert opened the season in our top 20, but you won’t find their names below.

We’ll break down each member of this month’s top 10 2016 free agents here:

  1. Kevin Durant – Encouraging signs for the prize of next summer’s free agent class include his rebounding, as he’s pulling down far more rebounds per 36 minutes than ever before, and his 3-point accuracy, which is at a career-best 44.3%. Even more encouraging for the Thunder is the near silence in the past few weeks regarding his free agency. Last time: No. 1.
  2. LeBron James (player option) – James, by contrast, is having the worst 3-point shooting season of his career, having connected on just 28% of his attempts thus far. And despite his remark that Kevin Love would be the focal point of the Cavs offense this year, James is taking 19.9 shots per game, his most since 2009/10, the last season before “The Decision.” Last time: No. 2.
  3. Mike Conley – It’s been an off year of sorts for the 28-year-old point guard, who’s never shot so poorly from the floor as this season’s 40.2% mark. He’s never had quite as high a percentage of his shots come from behind the arc, either. Still, he has significantly more assists and fewer turnovers than he did last season. Last time: No. 3.
  4. Andre Drummond (restricted) – He’s slowed a bit from his early-season 20-20 pace, but he’s still averaging more rebounds per game than anyone since ex-Piston Dennis Rodman grabbed 16.8 in 1994/95 for the Spurs. He’s fueled the Pistons to a 14-11 mark even after the departure of Greg Monroe. Still, Drummond is almost certain to remain in Detroit. Last time: No. 5.
  5. Al Horford – The Hawks center is averaging more points per game than Dwight Howard, has a higher PER, and rates better in Basketball-Reference’s Box Plus/Minus and ESPN’s Real Plus minus. Thus, Horford gets the last spot in the top five. Last time: No. 6.
  6. Dwight Howard (player option) – The good news is that Howard is playing in back-to-backs again. The bad news is that he scored 4 points in the second game of his most recent back-to-back. Still, it seems unlikely that Howard would opt in and miss perhaps his last chance at a max contract this summer. Last time: No. 4.
  7. Bradley Beal (restricted) – Health is a concern for Beal just as it is for Howard, but unless Beal’s stress reaction lingers much past two weeks, it’s tough to see the Wizards not making the max offer they’ve been planning on. The 22-year-old is averaging a career-high 19.8 points per game. Last time: No. 7.
  8. DeMar DeRozan (player option) – DeRozan would be higher on this list if not for his lack of a 3-point shot. He scores in plenty of other ways, and the Raptors get enough 3-point shooting from elsewhere in the lineup to make it work. It’s not a given that other teams could make it work just as well, though. Last time: No. 8.
  9. Hassan Whiteside — The 26-year-old has proven last year was no fluke, and he’s blocking shots like no one since Dikembe Mutombo, the last player to average more than four blocks per game, in 1995/96. Curiously, the Heat aren’t playing him in crunch time, but he still has a strong chance to go from the minimum salary this season to the maximum salary next year. Last time: Out of top 10.
  10. Harrison Barnes (restricted) – The Warriors only failed to outscore an opponent by 10 or more points five times in the 17 games Harrison Barnes played this year. They’ve failed to do so just as many times in the eight games Barnes has missed with a sprained ankle. Last time: No. 9.

We don’t always carry the rankings past the top 10, but we’re doing so this time. The next 10 leads off with a pair of resurgent veterans and a player who’s appeared to benefit from an offseason trade:

11. Rajon Rondo
12. Dwyane Wade
13. Nicolas Batum
14. Pau Gasol (player option)
15. Al Jefferson
16. Chandler Parsons (player option)
17. Ryan Anderson
18. Jordan Clarkson (restricted)
19. Evan Fournier (restricted)
20. Deron Williams (player option)

See all the previous editions of our rankings here. See the full list of 2016 free agents here.

Which player do you think should be higher, lower, or off the list entirely? Leave a comment and debate the merits of the 2016 free agents.

2016 Free Agent Power Rankings

The rookie scale extension deadline is over, so now we have a clear picture of the NBA players set for free agency in 2016. We first ranked the players atop that class in August, but with more than a week of regular season action and a full preseason in the books, some adjustment is necessary. The most prominent change is at the top, where Kevin Durant has eclipsed LeBron James as the most powerful free agent for next year. Most of the talk has already shifted Durant’s direction, in large measure because little doubt exists that LeBron will remain in Cleveland. Durant has continually talked up the Thunder, but it’s far from certain that he’ll remain in Oklahoma City beyond this spring.

We’ll surely hear more about that in the months ahead, as well as talk about other names below. Here’s how the top 10 2016 free agents line up for now:

  1. Kevin Durant — It’s all gone well so far this season for Durant, who’s on pace for the third-highest scoring average of his career and is showing no ill effects from last season’s broken foot. So, for the first time since we began these rankings in the 2013/14 season, we have a new No. 1. The client of Leon Rose and Rich Kleiman visits his native Washington on Tuesday for the Thunder’s game against the Wizards, so he’ll have lots of questions to answer about his future. (Last ranking: 2)
  2. LeBron James (player option) — The Rich Paul client has no shortage of power with the Cavs, and his fall from the No. 1 spot on this list isn’t really any fault of his own, even as his scoring is at its lowest level since he was a rookie. James at No. 2 is simply a reflection of the nearly four-year age difference between him and Durant, who just turned 27. Four years is an eternity in an NBA player’s career, and with five straight trips to the Finals, James has endured far more wear and tear than most who are about to turn 31. (Last ranking: 1)
  3. Mike Conley — Conley, whose father is his agent, isn’t quite looking himself to start the season, but neither is the next player on this list, so we’ll keep the Grizzlies point guard at No. 3. The Nets are reportedly likely to make Conley their top free agent target this summer, but not many people think he’ll leave Memphis, with Marc Gasol having hinted that he’s one of those people. (Last ranking: 3)
  4. Dwight Howard (player option) — Howard made all 10 of his shots in Wednesday’s game, but aside from that, he hasn’t looked especially sharp, and he’s already taken one game off to preserve his creaky back. The Dan Fegan client isn’t planning the sort of fanfare that surrounded the end of his last contract, but while he remains one of the best centers in the game, he’s no longer the force he was when the drama surrounding his exit from the Magic began. (Last ranking: 4)
  5. Andre Drummond (restricted) — Drummond isn’t going anywhere, since the Pistons will have the power to match offers and owner Tom Gores regards him as a max player. If the Pistons hadn’t talked him out of an extension, he’d already be locked up for the long term. But he’s on this list as a testament to his growing value. (Last ranking: 5)
  6. Al Horford — The new Bill Duffy client is averaging 18.0 points per contest through six games, and while it’s early, that’s more than he’s posted in any season except his injury-shortened 2013/14 campaign, when he only made 29 appearances. Horford will turn 30 in June, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down. (Last ranking: 6)
  7. Bradley Beal (restricted) — Beal, off to a strong start, is essentially in the same situation as Drummond is, since the Wizards reportedly intend to re-sign him for the max in the summer. Beal’s extension negotiation seemed like more of a roundabout affair than Drummond’s, but with Beal expressing his desire to remain in Washington, the Mark Bartelstein client seems willing to go along with the team’s plan to use its cap space before circling back to sign him. (Last ranking: 7)
  8. DeMar DeRozan (player option) — His three-point shot appears no better, but it hasn’t stopped the Raptors from winning all five of their games so far. The client of Aaron Goodwin is dishing out more assists than ever and appears on his way to a third straight season of scoring more than 20 points per game. The Raptors hedged against his ability to bolt with an extension for Terrence Ross this week. (Last ranking: 9)
  9. Harrison Barnes (restricted) — The former No. 7 overall pick called off extension talks with the Warriors, long after rejecting a four-year, $64MM offer and switching agents to Jeff Schwartz. Golden State seemed to prefer the extension route, and while they have control over where he plays next season, they don’t hold full sway over how much he’ll get. (Last ranking: Out of top 10)
  10. Dwyane Wade — The Leon Rose client who turns 34 in January is averaging the same 21.5 points and 4.8 assists through four games this season that he did last year. Those numbers translated to a one-year, $20MM deal for him this past summer, so that’s enough for him to hold off teammate Hassan Whiteside — if just barely — for now. (Last ranking: 10)

Dropped out: Joakim Noah (Last ranking: 8) — It’ll be tough for Noah to maximize his value now that he’s coming off the bench, and he hasn’t made the most of the playing time new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has given him, averaging just 2.0 points in 18.8 minutes per contest through five games so far.

The following three players can also hit free agency in 2016, but they’re far more likely to retire than leave their respective teams. So, we’re listing them here, in a special section of sorts, and in alphabetical order.

Who are your top 10 2016 free agents? Leave a comment to give us your list.

2016 Free Agent Power Rankings

When most NBA observers think of the 2016 free agent class, Kevin Durant is the first name that comes to mind. However, he’s not on top of our inaugural 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings. That title is reserved for the player who’s been on top of these rankings since the beginning: LeBron James. Durant’s struggle with a broken foot this past season injects enough doubt into his future that, if 2016 free agency began today, James would seem like a safer bet.

LeBron’s strategy of signing two-year deals with player options lets him capitalize on a rising salary cap as he navigates the prime of his career, and perhaps most importantly, gives him leverage every July. He seems overwhelmingly likely to stay in Cleveland for the foreseeable future, but he, like Durant, isn’t giving too many hints about just what he’ll do.

Of course, the ranking is subject to change, and we’ll no doubt see plenty of movement in this top 10 as we check back on a regular basis between now and next June. Still, even as a few notable names remain in this year’s free agent class, here’s our first look at how they stack up for 2016:

  1. LeBron James (player option) — Yes, he’s almost four years older than Durant. But LeBron just dragged a banged-up Cavs team to the Eastern Conference title and drew Finals MVP consideration even though he was on the losing team. Durant sat out all but 27 games this past season. Once Durant proves healthy, he probably eclipses LeBron. But for now, King James remains in his throne atop these rankings.
  2. Kevin Durant — That broken foot keeps him from the top spot, but he needn’t bounce back to his MVP form of 2013/14 to vault to No. 1. He could merely do what he’s done four out of the last six years and win the scoring title. That would give him five scoring titles before his 28th birthday.
  3. Mike Conley — This ranking might seem high for Conley, who took fewer shot attempts per game than Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph did last season, but in what’s increasingly becoming a point guard’s game, Conley, who turns 28 in October, is among the elite. Multiple reports seem to indicate that he’ll follow in Gasol’s footsteps and make the Grizzlies the clear front-runners to re-sign him.
  4. Dwight Howard (player option) — Howard, like Durant, can climb this list if he proves his health this year. He played in only 41 games and put up some of his lowest numbers in 10 years this past season. Still, he led the playoffs in rebounds per game and helped the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals.
  5. Andre Drummond (restricted) — Drummond, in many ways, is like a younger version of Howard. They’ve both played for Stan Van Gundy, they’re both top-flight rebounders, and neither can shoot free throws. It remains to be seen if Drummond can become the sort of devastating force that Howard has been, however. It seems more likely that the Pistons will tie up Drummond with an extension than let him hit free agency.
  6. Al Horford — The Hawks won 38 games in 2013/14, when Horford missed the majority of the season with injury. Atlanta won 60 games when the big man returned healthy last season. That’s no coincidence. He doesn’t put up gaudy numbers, but his game doesn’t have many holes, and he’s even showing signs of developing a three-point shot.
  7. Bradley Beal (restricted) — The Wizards reportedly want some non-guaranteed money in the deal if they’re to sign Beal to a max extension this summer, with health a concern, so an extension that seemed on its way last year might not happen. If that’s the case, Beal would hit restricted free agency just three days after his 23rd birthday, and if he merely keeps up his current career numbers, he can boast 40% three-point accuracy and a scoring average of 15.6 points per game.
  8. Joakim Noah — Horford’s former Florida teammate is yet another top 2016 free agent whose health is in question. He only missed 15 regular season games this past year, but he clearly wasn’t right, and he was well off the pace of his career year in 2013/14. Part of that had to do with the adjustments he made to play with 2014 free agent signee Pau Gasol. Noah has been the anchor of one of the league’s stoutest defenses for too long to ignore, however.
  9. DeMar DeRozan (player option) — The shooting guard has posted back-to-back 20-plus PPG seasons while nailing slightly fewer than 30% of his three-pointers the last two years combined, a testament to his ability to get to the basket. The early indications are he’ll opt out, and he has plenty of reason to do so, since the option would pay him only $10.05MM.
  10. Dwyane Wade — The Heat and Wade settled their differences this summer with a one-year, $20MM deal, and if all players only went year to year on their contracts, Wade might be higher on this list, having just averaged 21.5 PPG this past season. But when he enters the market as a 34-year-old with knee trouble next July, he simply won’t be able to command the sort of long-term money that others will.

These free agents make up the next 10:

  1. Harrison Barnes (restricted)
  2. Pau Gasol (player option)
  3. Al Jefferson
  4. Timofey Mozgov
  5. Chandler Parsons (player option)
  6. Roy Hibbert
  7. Joe Johnson
  8. Hassan Whiteside
  9. David Lee
  10. Luol Deng

The following three players can also hit free agency in 2016, but they’re far more likely to retire than leave their respective teams. So, we’re listing them here, in a special section of sorts, and in alphabetical order.

Who are your top 10 2016 free agents? Leave a comment to give us your list.